It was a tough junior season for triple jumper Omari Gregory.
After being ruled ineligible after transferring into Rogers High earlier in the year, all Gregory could do when it came to postseason was watch.
He was there watching teammate and girls state champion Jelani Heath win her state title as other onlookers were shocked that Heath could cross the 20-foot plateau. All Gregory could do at Mount Tahoma Stadium at the east end was watch.
“I watched all the guys jump, and after each one, I just thought to myself that I could be there,” Gregory said. “I was thinking I could have beat some of their marks.”
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It was a tough year as every mark Gregory set went by the wayside as not one jump mattered in the eyes of the record books within the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
But the Rogers track and field program accepted it.
Last season, Gregory set the school record in the triple jump with a mark of 44 feet, 8 1/4 inches.
“I really appreciate what the coaches did in giving me that record when they didn’t have to,” Gregory admitted. “They didn’t have to give me the school record because I was ineligible, but with them doing that, I feel like I’m more confident in myself this year. I want to break the record again.”
Gregory is also tied with Donavin Goode (2010) for third all-time in school history in the long jump with a mark of 21-6 1/2. Former Rogers track and field standout Loren Mark (2016) owns the record with a mark of 21-11, ahead of Terrance Stubblefield (2010), who previously held the record with a mark of 21- 9 3/4.
“I think Omari has really embraced his leadership role with the team,” Rogers jump coach Baily Kapel said. “It’s his final season and he really wants to make it to state and place this year.”
And to do that, Gregory is using last season’s Star Track meet at Mount Tahoma High as motivation to not be watching the competition, but owning it by leaving his mark on the competition.
“I feel like this is my year,” Gregory said. “I believe that if I do everything I’m supposed to do to prepare for state, I will be there in the finals and placing towards the top.”
Gregory’s personal best of 44-8.25 in the triple jump would have had the then-junior place sixth at state, with only junior Shamrock Campbell (fifth, 44-10) of Ferris High the only returning triple jumper who placed in the top five.
“There’s some good competition out there, and anyone can step up on any given meet,” Gregory said. “I just have to make sure that it’s me who is the one who steps up and takes the top spot.”
If Gregory has his way, he will have the season he missed out on last year and join teammate Jelani Heath as arguably the state’s top boys and girls track and field jumping duo.
“That’s my goal,” Gregory said. “I want to reach the podium with her, because after seeing her at state, I’m more motivated than ever to have my chance. It’s my senior season and I want to make the most of it.”