Teal Jackson may be only a sophomore, but if you want to look at things from an experience standpoint, she has plenty of it.
Even though Jackson had to rush back to Brewer for a spring play after earning Top Performer honors at Saturday’s Penobscot Valley Conference championships in Bar Harbor, her stage is typically the center of a track.
The spotlight will be on her again Saturday, as Jackson is one of the favorites for gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes at the Class A state meet at Windham High.
Jackson already owns indoor and outdoor school records in the 400 and came close to eclipsing Danielle Hutchins’ PVC record in one of track and field’s most mentally and physically demanding races. She still broke the 59-second barrier for the first time, which came as somewhat of a surprise considering a headwind with which sprinters were dealing.
“I was so happy. There was a little bit coming into the last 100, but other than that it was fine,” said Jackson. “I wanted to try to get another 59 just so I could be consistent, and I got a 58, so that was awesome.”
It will also put Jackson in the center of the track in the 400, where she’ll be matched up against a familiar foe in Biddeford senior Maria Curit, one of the state’s best sprinters.
“I pretty much learned that anything can happen,” Jackson said of that race. “Maria, she was so nice when I talked to her after.”
Jackson will be challenged by Nicole Kirk of Scarborough in the 100 and 200. Kirk she ran 12.77 and 25.88, respectively, to win those events at the Southwestern championships last weekend.
“I wish we were able to run against the girls down south more than once a year, just so I would know what to expect,” Jackson said. “They’re running against each other the whole season. I’ll be nervous, but nervous is good, right?”
While strong starts out of the blocks aren’t a do-or-die thing in the 400, they are crucial in the shorter races, especially the 100, where a fraction of a second could make a difference.
“I’ve always had trouble with my starts, but I’ve been working on it a lot more,” Jackson said. “Now my coaches think I need to work on my form.”
Now that Jackson has some experience under her belt against top-notch competition, she’d like nothing better than to claim a coveted gold medal.
“My high school career goal is to win something in states,” she said. “I want it so bad.”
All three state championship meets start at 10 a.m., with the Class B teams in Augusta and the Class C teams in Bath.