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Seventh-grader wins fourth straight national title in high jump at AAU Junior Olympic Games

August 02, 2013|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com
  • James Searcy won his fourth straight AAU Junior Olympic Games title in the high jump recently. Searcy also took second place in the pentathalon.
Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

The bar keeps getting set higher for Hagerstown’s James Searcy.

And he just continues to clear it.

Searcy, who will be a seventh-grader at Northern Middle School this year, won his fourth straight national title in the high jump at the AAU Junior Olympic Games on Monday at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.

He topped the 36 other competitors in the boys 12-year-old division, with a winning height of 5 feet, 2 inches.

Shea Degraaf of Knoxville, Tenn., also cleared that height, but finished second because he had more misses. Courtney Harris, of Boynton Beach, Fla., was third at 5 feet.

Searcy, who is a member of the local Mountain Express youth track and field club, also won Amateur Athletic Union national titles in the high jump when he was 9, 10 and 11, competing in those respective age divisions.

In his victory last year, he set an AAU national record for 11-year-olds at 5 feet, 1 inch.

“I can’t always expect that I’m going to win. I still have to do my best,” he said Friday afternoon after returning to Hagerstown. “The first year I did it, I didn’t know I was going to go all the way to nationals and win a gold medal. Now it’s like, I just want that gold medal. It’d be awesome to get five in a row.”

On Sunday, the day before he won his fourth straight gold medal, Searcy won silver in the pentathlon — an event composed of the 1,500-meter run, 80-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot put.

During that competition, Searcy, who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 103 pounds, popped a personal-best mark of 5 feet, 5 3/4 inches in the high jump.

Although he then aimed to go even higher during the open high jump competition the following day, weather conditions were not conducive for another personal record.

“The national record (for 12-year-olds) is 5-8 1/2, and I was hoping to get up there,” he said. “But it was pouring rain. I just had to do the best that I could.”

Searcy also competed in the open long jump on Tuesday, placing 19th out of 67 with a mark of 15 feet, 11 inches, and then finished 16th out of 44 in the open 80-meter hurdles on Wednesday in 13.38 seconds.

“I just think he has amazing talent, all mostly natural,” said his mother, Theresa Searcy. “And he’s worked really hard to get where he is. His effort has really paid off.”

James Searcy said he focuses on track and field for six months each year, training two to three hours a day, three days a week.

Although he has given up other sports, such as soccer, football and wrestling, he said his favorite sport remains basketball.

His future goals include competing at St. Maria Goretti High School.

“They have a track team, and the basketball there is very good,” he said.

His father, Chris Searcy, said his son is self-driven.

“I want him to want to win on his own, not to force him to have to win,” he said. “I cheer him on, but he wants to do it. I just support him when he needs supporting.”

Jordyn Morris of Hagerstown also represented the Mountain Express at the AAU Junior Olympic Games this year, competing in the girls 13-year-old division. She earned three medals, which were awarded to the top eight finishers in each event.

Morris placed fourth in the pentathlon, sixth in the long jump (15 feet,11 1/2 inches) and sixth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.01 seconds).

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