Breakthrough after breakthrough have defined Devin Jax’s spring.
After entering the 2021 track and field season with a goal to simply clear the 6-foot mark in the high jump, Jax cleared 5 feet, 8 inches in his first meet. In his third meet, Jax surged over 6 feet, 2 inches.
Then, at Saturday’s Section 1AA meet at Lakeville South High School, Jax claimed the section title with a personal-best clearance of 6 feet, 4 inches.
“I did high jump in ninth grade and last year we didn’t have a season,” Jax said. “I didn’t know I’d even reach six feet this year, and the third meet I jumped 6-2 out of nowhere and surprised everyone. That’s when I started taking it more seriously.”
Those surprising improvements have led Jax into Saturday’s Class AA state meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
“Once you get 5-10 in that first meet, that’s pretty dang good,” Northfield jumps coach Tom Dickerson said. “I would say that’s coming together. When it comes down to it, a lot of coaches agree that when you don’t have to say a lot and get a kid thinking too much, it bodes pretty well. You just don’t want to end up over coaching a kid and have him think about too much.
“He’s just great at the communication, great at adapting, just a really great, polite kid. Kind of a dream situation to work with a kid with that much height, ability, athleticism and then put it together with the character.”
That quiet confidence still nearly eroded at Saturday’s Section 1AA meet, where the 6-foot-4 junior knocked the bar off on his first attempt at his starting height of 5 feet, 8 inches.
Jax was able to regroup, however, and end up setting a personal best in the process. He’s cleared 6 feet, 4 inches before in practice, and even contorted his way over that height at the Big 9 Conference meet, but the wind knocked the bar off while he was still on the landing pad, resulting in a fault.
When he cleared the mark Saturday, the wind cooperated to deliver a section championship over Lakeville South’s Benjamin Mosser, who finished second with a top height of 6 feet, 3 inches.
“It felt surprising,” Jax said. “I did not know that was going to happen. I was seeded third and I thought I was going to stay third.”
Entering the state meet, Jax is one of only six jumpers that cleared 6 feet, 4 inches at the section meet.
Cambridge-Isanti’s Jacob Ziebarth paces the field with a top mark of 6 feet, 8 inches, but after that there are seven jumpers all clustered between 6 feet, 3 inches and 6 feet, 5 inches.
“He’s making gains each time he jumps,” Dickerson said. “He’s an inch away from being top-two in the state, and from watching his video he has plenty of ceiling left. He just has to focus on him and the next little step, and I think he’s going to do great.”