Jackson Staples goes Down Under to win high jump
Recent Sandy High graduate Jackson Staples spent a portion of his summer in Australia where he won the high jump at the ages 20-and-under showcase track and field meet.
Staples, a three-time state qualifier in the event, is no stranger to competing on the big stage. He cleared 6-feet-4.75-inches to win the event that pitted top prep athletes from the United States against the elite from Australia and New Zealand.
"There were kids coming in from everywhere for this meet, so I wasn't expecting to win it," Staples said.
Competing in the southern hemisphere, the meet took place during Australia's winter season. While darkness came early in the evening, temperatures were a comfortable 70-80 degrees.
During his stay, he and his teammates visited an animal sanctuary where Staples had the opportunity to feed some animals he had not encountered before. He also sampled some different foods, including a kangaroo burger, which he described as being similar to American fare.
"I just liked knowing that I was in Australia and competing in a whole different place," Staples said. "Ever since I was a little kid I've wanted to go to Australia."
While the competition at the track meet was top notch, Staples greatest challenge may have been in getting to Australia in the first place. He was first invited to take part in the meet following his freshman year, and he spent most of his high school career working at a local laundromat to raise the funds for the trip.
So how many loads did it take to travel across the planet?
"That's not a number I can count to," Staples said with a laugh.
His dad, Peter, made a similar trip to play basketball in Japan when he was in high school.
Staples has signed to compete at Mt. Hood Community College this coming track season.
"With the people at Mt. Hood they weren't just sending me letters, but they came to my competitions and talked with me," Staples said. "I'm hoping to see more competition — I expect it to be a real challenge."
This story is slated to appear in our Tuesday, Aug. 13, print edition.
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