By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — After taking his junior year away from track and field, Anderson senior Jalin Beard said he was persuaded pretty hard by boys’ track and field coach Cary House to make a swan song return for his senior year.
Beard had been mildly successful during his first two high school track and field seasons, but he hadn’t been able to make it to the state finals level. House told him he had the potential if Beard just gave it a shot.
Beard obliged, and together the duo worked hard during the season and achieved the goal the House had promised his senior star. Along the way, Beard proved to be a pivotal piece to the Anderson boys’ track and field team.
“He scored a lot of points for us,” House said. “He was our top point scorer this season. We had a lot of wins, and a lot of wins were due to his points.”
During a cold regional meet at Ben Davis High School May 23, Beard managed to fight through the conditions and post a jump of 22 feet, seven inches — good enough for second place in the meet and a trip to Bloomington for the state track meet just over a week later.
“I was really happy for him because I knew his sophomore year, he had the talent to be there, and it just didn’t work out for him the last two years, so it was very rewarding to finally see him get where I thought all along he needed to be,” House said.
Beard admitted that track wasn’t ever his top priority, taking the backseat to his basketball career on the Indians squad, but with House’s guidance, he managed to stay focused on his dream of appearing at the state meet in his last opportunity.
“It was a good feeling,” Beard said. “Everybody else that was in state had probably been doing it for four years and practiced all year-round, and I never worked on track as much as I worked on basketball, so it felt good to make it off of just natural talent, really.”
But natural talent will only got him so far.
Beard said he jumped 23 feet, seven inches, in practice just a few days before the state meet — a jump that would have scored him the state title by two inches. But in the meet, Beard couldn’t record a single legal jump, faulting on all three of his attempts and failing to make it to the finals. Eastern Jr./Sr. High School’s Cole Grant took home the title, and Beard was left to watch the rest of the meet wondering what might have been.
House, of course, was disappointed in his senior’s performance.
Yet, even more than the three less than stellar jumps, House was saddened that the state meet crowd wouldn’t get the chance to see the real Jalin Beard compete to his potential like his coach and local fans had witnessed all season.
“It’s just a little upsetting that people didn’t get to see the caliber of a jumper that he was,” House said. “We still haven’t been able to put a finger on what happened at the state meet, whether it was out of routine, nerves — we don’t know for sure.”