CASPER – As if her state track and field experience could get any better, Favour Wanjoku added yet another huge accomplishment to her resume on Friday. After winning a state title in the long jump Thursday, along with claiming the Best of the Best award from all four classes, the Rock Springs High School junior turned her attention to what might be her best event – the triple jump.
Wanjoku came into the meet as the heavy favorite to win the event, especially after taking the title last year as a sophomore. Thursday she admitted that repeating in the triple jump was a real goal of hers, and it soon became clear that she was in a class of her own Friday.
Wanjoku said that she paid extra attention to the little things prior to the competition. The wind was really howling at that point, so she took extra run throughs, plus double- and triple-checking her mark to make sure it was perfect.
That paid off immensely, as she posted a mark on her first jump, which allowed her to get really aggressive. On her second jump of prelims, Wanjoku’s left toe was about a centimeter away from crossing the line for a scratch, and she made every single inch count.
Her second jump turned out to be a special one, as she shattered her own personal and school record with a jump of 39 feet, 3.5 inches. Wanjoku knew right then that could quite possibly be the winning effort, but what she didn’t expect was for her jump coach, Karen Wagner, to motivate her even further after locking up the title.
“Right after I jumped the 39-4, she was like, ‘Did you know that the state record is 39-10?’” Wanjoku said. “I definitely felt like I had a little more in me. My second phase is pretty flat, so I thought, ‘All I have to do is reach a little more on the second phase, and I might be able to get the record.”
The state record of 39-10 will have to wait until next year, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the accomplishment of back-to-back state championships. Nobody even really challenged her, as Wanjoku’s best jump was almost 3 feet further than the runner-up.
Apart from being crowned as state champ, one of the best things about the win was the moment that Wanjoku and Wagner shared afterward. Wagner and her family are moving to Cody after this year, and following Wanjoku’s final jump, it struck them both that it would be the final time that they would work together.
“We were just reflecting on the three years we had together,” Wagner said with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t even think about crying or anything and then it just hit both of us, like ‘this is it.’”
Although Wanjoku is an absolute star now, Wagner clearly remembers what it took her to get to this point. She said that Wanjoku has made big strides with her strength and athleticism, but more than anything she has become a confident, yet humble athlete over the past three years.
“I’m not taking any credit myself, but I’ve been able to work with her since she started out her freshman year,” Wagner said. “She wasn’t jumping these distances, so to watch her grow to where she’s at now – I mean one of the best in the nation pretty much – you can’t describe that feeling.”
It was actually Wagner who talked Wanjoku into trying triple jump for the first time, which was just last year. One day in practice after noticing how good of a bounder Wanjoku was, Wagner asked her if she wanted to give a new event a try, and the rest is history.
“She had never even triple jumped until last year. … It just took off, she just escalated her performance and found her niche,” Wagner said. “It’s just been so fun to see from the very-first time she jumped to now, where she’s contending for a state record.”
This wasn’t one of those big performances that just came out of nowhere, either. Wanjoku has been dominant in both of her jumping events all season long, competing on some huge stages, but doing it at state is something all together different.
“It feels really great, because this is where it really matters,” Wanjoku said. “It’s perfect. I just won two events and I’m just so happy and so blessed to be able to do this at state.”
Also, the fact that Wanjoku is just a junior should be a cause for concern for the title hopes of all 4A jumpers, because she has already set a lofty objective for next season.
“My goal is to get the record for sure,” she said.