Name: Jai Gruenwald
School: Chandler HS
Jai Gruenwald won 9 individual State Titles over the course of her career for the Chandler Wolves, culminating in a Girls Long Jump State Record of 20-6.75, an event which she won four years straight. She's also an accomplished hurdler, picking up two consecutive D1 State Titles in both the high and low hurdles events between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Jai has signed with the University of California Los Angeles and will compete in the hurdles and horizontal jumps for the Bruins.
Where are you from and when did you begin competing in track and field?
I'm from Arizona and I started running track when I was 7 years old.
What was your most memorable performance, be it a race or jump?
My most memorable performance was my freshman year when I won state in long jump.
Did you compete in any other sports for Chandler?
No, I did volleyball in junior high but only track in high school.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Jae'Nisa Heckstall from Raymond S. Kellis. We both do the hurdles and are .01 seconds apart in each. We are good friends too and take turns winning.
(Right: Jae'Nisa Heckstall edged out Jai Gruenwald for victory in their fastest race at last year's Great Southwest.-photo by Alan Versaw)
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was definitely breaking the state long jump record.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your high school career?
I would come in with more confidence my freshman year. Rather than being scared, I would have faith in my God-given talents and not doubt myself.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
I had a different injury every year of high school and it was really tough for me to stay positive and keep my head up.
What will you miss the most about competing for Chandler?
I am going to miss my team the most. All of us making videos together and listening to music under the tent. There was great camaraderie and we were all close to each other.
What advice would you give to future hurdlers and jumpers for Chandler?
I would advise future jumpers and hurdlers to never give up and trust the process. Not everything will go your way but to keep fighting and it will all work out.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
My coaches have had a huge impact on my life. They pushed me to try new events and they care about me on and off the track.
What are your plans for UCLA? Have you decided on a major?
I plan on studying psychology.
Who would you like to thank for your success in high school?
I would like to thank my parents, all of my coaches, my teachers and counselors for always helping as well as believing in me.
What music gets you hyped before your pre-performance?
It's weird but I like to listen to classical music. I usually get nervous before a race so music calms me down rather than hypes me up.
What's your favorite post-meet food?
I love getting burgers after a meet! Especially from In-N-Out.
What was the last movie you watched?
I saw Avengers Infinity War and I actually did not like it that much.
If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?
I would love to have dinner with Sanya Richards Ross, Usher and Beyoncé.
What's gonna' be your favorite thing about living in LA?
I am going to love going to the beach and I really want to learn how to surf!