Taking the leap: Jaiden Hubbard is a standout in the triple jump at West Forsyth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2023

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

Even thinking about attempting a triple jump is a feat in itself.
Senior Jaiden Hubbard of the West Forsyth track-and-field team is opening eyes with his ability, even though he is still relatively new to the sport.
Hubbard, who is 6-foot-1, jumped 43 feet, 2 inches last spring as a junior in outdoor track, and so far this season in indoor track, he has jumped 42-0.
Hubbard has only been competing in the triple jump for two years.
“I thought it looked cool because — the long jump, that was my primary event. I found out there was triple from one of my other friends,” Hubbard said. “And it looked fun, so I wanted to try that. It was just one of the things where I wanted to see if I’m good at it. And I was very good at it, so I just went with it.”
Hubbard started long-jumping at 15 years old and finds that was much different than it is now.
“It is a lot easier now,” Hubbard said. “I’ve gotten used to the motion. The first time I did it, there was a really bad thing in my ankle when I first started doing it. And I got used to it over time.”
He ran track at Clemmons Middle School, but middle school in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools doesn’t have field events. While there, he ran the 800-meters and the 4×400.
His freshman season at West Forsyth was mostly wiped out because of COVID-19. He was planning on running the 200 and 400, which he picked up while running AAU track for the Winston-Salem Roadrunners, and he dropped the 800 and started concentrating on field events.
“I would say the triple jump is kind of a little niche event,” Coach Nathan Newsome of West Forsyth said. “You know Jaiden in middle school, if I remember correctly, was an 800-meter runner. He may have been the middle-school champion in the 800 — or first or second.”
Then, he switched to the triple jump.
“I thought it was my best event my sophomore year, so I decided to keep doing it,” Hubbard said.
When he picked up triple-jumping, he had his dad, Jeffery Hubbard, who was on the track-and-field team at VMI, by his side.
“My dad taught me a lot of stuff because he used to be a triple-jumper in college Jaiden Hubbard said. “And one of my coaches, (Wesley) Chapman (volunteer at West Forsyth), helped me a lot with triple jump.”
Just like with anything else one might pick up, there is a learning curve in the event.
“It depends on if you’re going to be good at it, really good or elite,” Hubbard said. “And to be elite at it you need to have really good speed, you need to have really good technique, you need to have really good athletic ability,” Newsome said. “You can be good at it if you’ve got one of those. So, the more of those you can put together, the better.
“I think when the kids have an interest in doing it they tend to improve on their technique the more that they do it. “Because in my opinion, there are some events that kids avoid because they’re harder to learn — hurdles, triple jump and pole vault. Kids stay away from that.”
Even though there have been some bumps in the road for Hubbard, he’s kept at it.
“I looked up a lot of videos on it because I was very confused on how people did that so effortlessly,” he said. “So, my first phase was good, and the rest was really, really bad. So, I had to look up techniques to get better at it — practice it over and over.”
His sophomore year, he recorded an unofficial jump of 44-2. Although that sounds good on the surface, it sent Hubbard backward. He jumped more than a foot less last season as junior.
“I think it was a lack of training to be honest because I think after that 44, I think I had a little bit of an ego boost,” he said. “I was thinking I could not do that much and get better, but obviously that wasn’t the case because I dropped some.”
That was a shock to his ego.
“It was a very humbling experience to say the least,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard realized that he would have to work much harder to get better at his craft of triple-jumping.
“First of all, I lifted (weights) some more over the summer because I don’t really lift that much,” he said.
“I got better technique over the summer by trying new things like switching legs because I had to do that over the break. That’s really it.”
His coach has noticed improvement.
“There’s still a good bit of potential,” Newsome said. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all for him to suddenly jump 44-plus feet because he’s that tall, and he’s athletic. And a 17, 18-year-old boy all of the sudden, they just get better when they get older, barring injury or bad weight gain. They just tend to kind of get better.”
Hubbard still has the rest of the indoor season, plus the outdoor season to continue to improve. In the meantime, he’s working on preparing for college.
Along with the help of his mother, Angela Hubbard, who’s a guidance counselor at West Forsyth, Jaiden’s applied to and has already received confirmation that he’s been accepted to VMI, High Point, N.C. Central, Winston-Salem State and East Carolina. He’s just not sure he wants to compete in track-and-field in college.
He’s leaning toward VMI or possibly High Point.
“It’s mostly because of my dad, and because I’ve been to the campus, and what they do,” he said. “I heard there’s a lot of really good opportunities when you graduate from there.”