(Jasmine Todd, Center, winning the 100 meter dash - All Photos by Margot Kelly, AZTrackXC.com)
When Jasmine Todd started track in the eighth grade she came to Coach Richardson’s youth club as a “gangly, skinny kid." He says her work ethic in the weight room is tremendous and has transformed the Chandler junior into the runner she is today.
“She comes from a real strong background but that weight room stuff made her squeamish initially. Ever since she got involved and made strides in the weight room her improvement has grown leaps and bounds. She was better than most to begin with, but when she really put in the work and the work ethic improved... the marks just went off the board.”
Before track meets she turns on her iPod and listens to her playlist. Her favorite song is “Run This Town,” by Jay-Z and Rihanna. It’s only fitting because the Chandler High junior is not only taking over Arizona but she’s making noise on the national stage as well.
Last summer Todd and her teammates competed in and won Nike Track Nationals. Only a sophomore, she says the experience is one she won’t forget.
“That was probably our favorite experience of the whole year. We plan on going back... that is our goal. It’s a competition on our team for spots to go there. We’re friends but we’re competing against each other.“
At a powerhouse program like Chandler, which has won six consecutive team championships, it is that fierce competition that brings out the best in each athlete, including Todd. At the 71st Chandler Rotary Invitational, the junior broke a nine-year-old state record in the triple jump with a U.S. leading 41-5, but it didn’t come on the first try.
“It was my fifth attempt. The first ones weren’t as good... they were 38 and 39 feet. When I went for my fifth attempt it didn’t feel like a 41, it felt like a 39 again because I didn’t have a second phase. When I got out of the pit they relooked at it and said it was a 41-05.00.”
At first she didn’t know what the record was until an official had informed her. It was a goal she had coming into the meet and is looking forward to improving upon.
“That’s a great accomplishment from coming in my freshman year and seeing how I was doing. My goal was to break that and now that I’m doing well I hope I can break my record again.”
Coach Richardson believes 41 feet is just the beginning for Todd and that by the time all is done she could hit 45.
“The 41 footer - it was just waiting. If she ever works that second phase in and holds it for a little bit she can go 43, 44, 45, she is that talented. The marks are endless and the capabilities are endless especially the way she works.”
Todd continued her impressive outing at the Chandler Rotary with a wind-aided 11.73 100 meters. An injury sustained in the race caused the junior to sit out the long jump and 4x100, two events she and her team was favored to win.
“I was feeling good the first 60 meters but when I got there I felt a pull in my hamstring. It wasn’t really irritated or anything bad but it was hurting a little. We’re working on my hamstring and it’s getting a lot better though. I’m about 75 percent.”
Although, Todd doesn’t want to take time off, Coach Eric Richardson says that really isn’t an option. He has already taken her off the track and put her in the pool to do some cardio to keep the muscles going in the right direction. He anticipates she will be back in two to three weeks.
Taking the ride with her have been her parents. Todd grew up around jumping as the daughter of two collegiate athletes who shared their love of the sport. Her dad, Larry Todd, is the coach at nearby Mountain Pointe High School. Jasmine says it’s always fun competing against her dad’s squad.
“We run against them all the time. I always make fun of him because he makes jokes like he isn’t going to give me any water or not going to feed me the night before a meet he is going to be at. He still works with us too though; he is our jump coach, and a really good coach.”
Track is a way of life in the Todd household. While dad is coaching, her mom Kimberly is on top of the team’s stats and running the team’s website. She also is the first person Jasmine talks to after a race no matter the outcome.
“She (mom) helps run the fan pages for the girls and boys team. Sometimes she will tell me that 'so and so ran this time' or 'jumped this', and 'people on your team are ranked this.' She is definitely the supporter as well. She always gives me the motivational talks and prepares me for going over to my coaches when they tell me what I need to work on.”
The best advice her mom has given her is “to leave it on the track,” and let her actions do the talking. In two years, Todd has racked up six individual state titles, and two team championships.
Coach Richardson has coached at Chandler High School for 14 years and has coached numerous state champions and championship squads. He says Todd, who lists her favorites as UCLA, USC, Texas Tech, TCU, and Oregon, is one of the top athletes he’s coached.
“Sprint wise... she is in the top two or three we’ve ever had here. Jumping wise... she is by far the best. We’ve had a good jump culture here but she has the ability, tenacity, and work ethic that she can be the greatest jumper to come through here.”