Local Youth Soars to Silver Medal at AAU Junior Olympics

Read competes for the L.A. Falcons Track Club (Photo by Dick Dornan)
Julian Read receives the silver medal (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)
Julian Read receives the silver medal (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)

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.

Julian Read
Julian Read

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.

Read competes for the L.A. Falcons Track Club (Photo by Dick Dornan)
Read competes for the L.A. Falcons Track Club (Photo by Dick Dornan)

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.’”

Read clears 5'10" setting a personal best (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)
Read clears 5’10” setting a personal best (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)

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 will be an eighth grader at Luther Burbank this year (Photo by Dick Dornan)
Read will be an eighth grader at Luther Burbank this year (Photo by Dick Dornan)

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.”

Julian Read with his family and mom, Karen, to his left (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)
Julian Read with his family and mom, Karen, to his left (Photo courtesy of Karen Read)

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