By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
Clear the runway. And in this case, clear some air space. Burbank’s own Julian Read has served notice to the country that his career in boys’ high jump is officially underway and he did it in winning style.
Read, an eighth grader at Luther Burbank Middle School, jumped his way over his national competition en route to claiming the silver medal at the AAU Junior Olympics last week in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a suburb outside of Detroit. The meet was held on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
“Winning silver meant so much to me. I had never done anything this big in my life. Being second in the nation is a big deal to me because of all the hard work and training that I’ve put in this season,” said Read, who competes for the L.A. Falcons Track Club in the Valley Youth Conference. “I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I could do well. I didn’t need to prove it to anyone else.”
Amongst a field of 55 talented boys in the 14-year-old division from across the country, Read took matters into his hands and leaped into the finals in exciting and climatic fashion. His opening height began at 5’2” which he cleared with relatively ease. He did the same at 5’4” and advanced to 5’6” (high jump increases by two inches after each made jump).
Read, 13, missed his first attempt at 5’6” by hitting the bar with his leg. His second attempt was unsuccessful as his foot knocked the bar off setting up a do-or-die third and last attempt (high jumpers get three attempts to make a height before advancing).
On his final attempt, Read approached without fear and cleared the height with room to spare. He leapt off the mat with his arms in the air.
“My heart was in my throat knowing how disappointed he would be if did not clear on this last attempt,” said his mom, Karen.
With 5’6” out of the way, Read moved on to 5’8” which had marked his personal best when he made the jump at a meet at Santa Barbara City College this past spring.
Knowing it would take a supreme effort to clear 5’8” Read relentlessly attacked the bar on his first attempt and made it with several inches to spare.
Many of the competitors fell by the wayside at this height. Only a few high jumpers remained as 5’10” stared Read right in the face.
First attempt was a miss. Second attempt another miss. Read came to his coach for some final advice who said to run faster and with more speed.
Karen threw in her own words of support. “I told him, ‘Relax, breathe. You can do this,’” she said. ‘You need to BELIEVE you can do this.’”
Unwavering, focused and full of confidence, Read nailed his last attempt at 5’10” and set a new personal record.
“On my third attempt at 5’10” when I was standing on my mark, getting ready to run up and jump, I felt really confident that I was going to make it. The bar didn’t look that high to me,” said Read, who stands at five-feet-10 inches tall. “When I made it over I felt great and excited, but I knew I had to focus on my next jump.”
“We went crazy. His family, his teammates, his coach were all cheering and screaming,” Karen said.
Only one other boy, David Hughes from Florida, managed to clear 5’10” – also on his third attempt and a new PR for him too.
Then it was on to six feet to determine the gold medal winner. Read and Hughes each attempted three times but to no avail.
In high jump, when there is a tie for height as in this case, the athlete with the fewest missed attempts wins. Unfortunately for Read, Hughes had fewer misses and thus took first place.
“There was no disappointment or let down. We were all as proud and excited as they placed the silver medal on his neck,” said his ecstatic mom.
“This is amazing!” shouted Read after receiving the silver medal.
Read’s love for high jump first began in seventh grade and success was quick to come. In this year’s All-City Middle School track meet held at Burbank High School in April, he captured first place in the high jump while breaking the seventh grade meet record (5’2 ¼”) in the process and also took first in the long jump (15’6”). He was a part of Luther Burbank’s victory with 111 points over Muir who had 62 and Jordan with 33.
“I love high jump because it really allows you to bring all of your energy to just go up and hang there for a little bit. And then I just love that feeling of falling down on the mat,” Read said. “It just makes me feel happy. I feel good that I can jump so high and do so well in something that is really fun.”
For every moment of pure exhilaration in high jump, there can be a quick dose of disappointment and frustration. High jump requires speed, a solid approach, excellent technique and sometimes simply good luck.
Read described his emotions when making a standard jump.
“I feel like I accomplished what I needed to do at that moment. Then I need to start thinking about the next jump,” he said.
As for the frustration?
“When you are jumping a height and you know you could make it because you have made it before and you keep knocking the bar off,” Read said. “And it can hurt. I’ve spiked myself plenty of times in the leg and I’ve landed on the bar with my back.”
Read credits his passion and hobby for Parkour as a major reason for his success. Parkour fanatics move quickly past obstacles using only their bodies and their surroundings to propel themselves. This includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting and jumping.
By performing Parkour frequently, the muscles in his body became stronger, his flexibility, balance coordination and athleticism improved and his vertical leap increased.
His ascent to the AAU Junior Olympics began when Read qualified at the Area 24-B National Qualifier at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego. He won with a jump of 5’6” to earn the automatic qualification and trip to Detroit.
Now after doing so well in the Junior Olympics, Read will focus on another successful season for the L.A. Falcons as well setting goals such as jumping six feet and becoming the eighth grade Burbank city champion. Then it will be off to Burroughs High School for track stardom.
“It’s a track event that not a lot of people do. A lot of people do just running,” Read said. “It’s great when you are good at it.”
Just ask the other 54 competitors below how they felt.
AAU Junior Olympics Results
Boys High Jump- 14 years old
National: N 6-04 1980 Mark Trujillo, Reno, NV (meet record)
Name Year Team Finals
1 5642 David Hughes 99 Hallandale Beach, F 5-10.00 1.77m
2 4266 Julian Read 99 Burbank, CA J5-10.00 1.77m
3 641 Jeremiah Hayes 99 Webster, TX 5-08.00 1.72m
3 2634 D’Marcus Hamption 99 Ormond Beach, FL 5-08.00 1.72m
5 9009 Ethan Cadenhead 99 St Louis, MO J5-08.00 1.72m
6 5534 Shyheem Jacques-Lo 99 Fort Myers, FL 5-06.00 1.67m
7 9340 Zavier Allen 99 Hattiesburg, MS J5-06.00 1.67m
8 8397 Daniel Apuzzio 99 Heathrow, FL J5-06.00 1.67m
9 6775 Marion Humphrey 99 Birmingham, AL 5-04.00 1.62m
9 8457 Joshau Crayton-Pri 99 Garfield Heights, O 5-04.00 1.62m
9 6054 Maurice Garrison 99 Salem, VA 5-04.00 1.62m
9 8812 Branden Ellis 99 Gurnee, IL 5-04.00 1.62m
9 9266 Sage Brown 99 Sicklerville, NJ 5-04.00 1.62m
9 6928 Dyllan Conway 99 St Louis, MO 5-04.00 1.62m
9 4349 Skyler Lester 99 Kennesaw, GA 5-04.00 1.62m
9 7378 Kentwan Blackstock 99 Grandview, MO 5-04.00 1.62m
17 5638 Terrence Scott 99 Rosharon, TX 5-02.00 1.57m
17 8614 Richard Nava 99 Robstown, TX 5-02.00 1.57m
17 7642 Abay Holmes 99 Marietta, GA 5-02.00 1.57m
17 2035 Amarr Teague 99 Desoto, TX 5-02.00 1.57m
17 3972 Jacob Sobota 99 Knoxville, TN 5-02.00 1.57m
17 9087 Taliferro Rhodes 99 Pembroke Pines, FL 5-02.00 1.57m
23 8398 Phillip Apuzzio 99 Heathrow, FL 5-00.00 1.52m
23 637 Rotnei Anderson 99 Webster, TX 5-00.00 1.52m
23 4908 Myles Carter 99 Philadelphia, PA 5-00.00 1.52m
23 6015 Jeremy Davis 99 Houston, TX 5-00.00 1.52m
23 3593 Christian Goines 99 Indianapolis, IN 5-00.00 1.52m
23 8603 Mckenzie Mitchell 99 Naperville, IL 5-00.00 1.52m
29 6856 Will Runion 99 St Charles, MO 4-10.00 1.47m
29 409 Akil Stokes 99 Canton, OH 4-10.00 1.47m
29 7680 Matt Lewis 99 Yardley, PA 4-10.00 1.47m
29 3551 Jake Loebbaka 99 Minooka, IL 4-10.00 1.47m
29 2061 Grant Downes 99 Kansas City, MO 4-10.00 1.47m
29 397 James Copeland 99 Canton, OH 4-10.00 1.47m
29 1600 Kristopher Gambrel 99 Columbia, SC 4-10.00 1.47m
29 8968 Myles Howard 99 Nokesville, VA 4-10.00 1.47m
37 9352 Jahmani Wright 99 Miami Gardens, FL 4-08.00 1.42m
37 7187 Kraig Ruff 99 Piscataway, NJ 4-08.00 1.42m
37 1321 Ryan Williams 99 Clive, IA 4-08.00 1.42m
37 6745 Marcus Twitty 99 Spartanburg, SC 4-08.00 1.42m
37 1104 Jordan Counter 99 Valparaiso, IN 4-08.00 1.42m
37 3753 Calvin Matthew Ii 99 Milwaukee, WI 4-08.00 1.42m
37 346 Randy Ludwig 99 Arcadia, CA 4-08.00 1.42m
37 5518 Xavier Fountain 99 Philadelphia, PA 4-08.00 1.42m
45 6143 Antwon Hallman 99 Miami Gardens, FL 4-06.00 1.37m
45 8690 Connor Sheridan 99 East Greenwich, RI 4-06.00 1.37m
47 3616 Troy Hargraves 99 Menifee, CA 4-04.00 1.32m
— 5053 Dewan Hawthorne 99 Detroit, MI DNS
— 8749 Christopher Willia 99 Dayton, OH DNS
— 9357 Charles Smith 99 Chattanooga, TN DNS
— 6483 Landon Krebs 99 Louisville, KY DNS
— 3787 Malik Bailey 99 Metairie, LA DNS
— 8410 Dennis Barnes 99 Jefferson City, MO DNS
— 4413 Flakewood Tucker 99 Erynwood, NJ DNS
— 133 Ryan Thompson 99 Wilmington, DE DNS