Teal Jackson headed off to West Virginia Wesleyan University last summer hoping to take her track and field career to the next level.
Instead, the former Brewer High School star may have taken a step back.
Jackson explained that the NCAA Division II school featured a relatively young track and field program that had limited indoor training facilities and competition opportunities during the winter.
“For a while, they didn’t even have me do the 400 (meters). I had to ask to do it,” Jackson said of her signature event.
After enduring a long, snowy winter in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, she has come home. Jackson confirmed that she is transferring to the University of Maine and plans to compete for the Black Bears.
“It wasn’t a good fit for me,” said Jackson, who explained that she really didn’t mind the 14-hour drive from her home in Brewer.
Jackson hopes running at UMaine will provide her with the opportunity to return to serious training and better competition while taking advantage of the renovated New Balance Field House.
“The track, the whole surface, is so nice,” said Jackson.
At WVWU, she was forced during the winter to ride a stationary bike or train in the gymnasium as the school does not have an indoor track facility.
Despite relatively limited competitions, Jackson posted some solid times during 2013-2014. Indoors, she ran a 7.84 in the 60 meters, clocked a 25.89 in the 200 and went 17 feet, 2 3/4 inches in the long jump.
Outdoors, she posted a 12.58 in the 100, a 25.39 in the 200, logged a 57.35 in the 400 and had a 17-2 1/4 in the long jump.
“Indoor in that area is not really a big thing,” Jackson said. “Everything was geared toward outdoor.”
Jackson’s transfer to UMaine will reunite her with some old teammates and rivals from Brewer and eastern Maine track circles.
Those friends include Brewer standout Synclaire Tasker, who recently won the 100 and 300 hurdles and the triple jump and was second in the 200 at the Class A state championships. She also will team up with Bangor’s Grace MacLean, former Brewer teammates Tristan Wortman and Alex Wortman, and her sister, Tia Jackson of Old Town, who has struggled with injuries of late.
“Synclaire and I are actually rooming together,” Teal Jackson said. “It will be a lot of fun.”
Jackson plans to study psychology with a minor in communications. She is interested in becoming a doula, a woman trained to assist a mother during child support and who also provides support to the family after the baby is born.
Jackson is an eight-time Class A individual state champion. Outdoors, she won the 400 in 2012, then swept the 100, 200, 400 and long jump in 2013. She owns the Class A state record in the 400 at 57.00.
Indoors, Jackson claimed the 55, 200 and 400 titles in 2013.
Mainers perform well in NC
Among the Mainers who competed at last weekend’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina was Aleta Looker of Ellsworth.
The recent Ellsworth High graduate capped off her high school career on Sunday by placing 14th in the 800 meters at the meet.
Looker’s time of 2 minutes, 11.31 seconds ranks as the best ever by a Maine schoolgirl in that event. It lowered the previous mark of 2:13.50 set by former Lawrence High runner Erzsebet Nagy, who is now competing at Middlebury College.
Looker is headed for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Lake Region of Naples junior phenom Kate Hall closed out her amazing junior season with two more stellar performances at New Balance.
She sped to a personal best 23.98 in the prelims of the 200 meters, besting the 24.36 she had run two weeks earlier at the Class B state meet in Brewer. Hall took eighth in the finals at the New Balance meet in 24.01, her second best career time.
Hall took home All-America honors in the long jump, going 19-4 to claim a sixth-place finish. She previously finished third in the 100 in North Carolina with a wind-aided 11.45 that also was an All-America effort.