Most high school track and field athletes peak in late April — two months from now.
That bodes well for this week's athlete of the week, senior Charlie Staton at Georgia Military Prep School, as he jumped an astonishing 6 feet 5 inches in the high jump during the team's second competition of the season at Thomson Thursday, Feb. 27.
Staton's mark serves as the new GMC Prep school record, replacing the previous best of 6 feet by a Bulldog.
“Potential - I feel like he has the potential to win the state in Class-A,” head coach Steven Simpson said. “Last year, 6' 4” won Class-A public state. You can see that the sky is the limit.”
The tall, lanky senior has had little time to practice at his event, as he participates on the Bulldogs' soccer team as well this spring.
“Performance-wise Charlie is fine,” Simpson said. “He's just one of those guys that he plays soccer, does the high jump, and he runs a little for us.”
Despite having many time constraints due to other involvements, Simpson admits his high jumper works hard for the success he has achieved early this season.
“High jump is very technical,” he said. “If your technique is off at all, you're not going to clear the bar. Timing is everything.
“He works hard at it, and he's good at it,” the proud coach added. “He videotapes his jumps so that he can see what he's doing. A lot of the stuff Charlie does he learned from a video.”
At Thomson, Staton battled rough conditions, but managed to maintain the form he has worked so hard to get for a Georgia High School Association Class-A Public School state leading mark.
“It was our second meet of the season,” the senior said. “In the first meet, I actually got hurt in a very weird way - I fell through a crack in the mat. So returning to that school last week was hard. Mentally, it was tough, but I got over that. The weather that day was not great, not the best weather for any event really, but I also got over that.
“Once their competitors got out I was able to settle down and concentrate,” Staton added. “My original goal was to just break the school record, which was 6 feet.”
Performing well in the less-than-ideal conditions comes as no surprise for Staton, as he admits his focus is greater than it has been in past seasons.
“Really, I've just been mentally focused, and working out with basketball was helpful for my legs and my core,” he said. “Training has been weird this year. I spend a lot of time watching videos of myself trying to see what I need to do better.
“I'm trying to work on my approach. That's kind of a big part of high jump.”
As a coach, Simpson appreciates his technical-savvy jumper, as Staton has helped the other high jumpers on the Bulldogs' squad this season.
“We've got some other high jumpers that were decent at it and worked hard at it, but Charlie has really helped those guys,” Simpson said. “He's kind of like another coach out there. That's helped having someone out there that knows what to do.”
After only three competitions so far this season, the Bulldogs' star jumper is already looking like a state contender.
Staton is excited about the season, but most of all thankful for the opportunity to compete and be eligible for awards such as Athlete of the Week in the final season of his high school career.
“I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to be nominated for athlete of the week, and of course for the people who voted for me,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”