In a sport like track and field, there's always a chance for redemption. And when you're an athlete as versatile as Jaden Price-Whitehead, you don't have to wait long for those opportunities.
At Saturday's Burdette Classic at Lehigh, and after taking a close second in the 60 meter dash, Price-Whitehead of Upper Dublin made his way to the infield for his redemption opportunity in the triple jump. He didn't miss it, uncorking a nice PR in the event and a US No. 4 of 47 feet, 10.25 inches.
"First, I got out of my own head because I was a little distraught about the 60 and not being able to win," he said. "But then I was able to bounce back in the triple and relax and pop a big jump."
While he was upset about not notching the win in the 60 dash, it was still an impressive performance. Price-Whitehead ran 7.03, a PR and PA No. 6 time, for second to Wilkes Barre Area's Rafael McCoy, who clocked a strong PR also at 6.97 (PA No. 4).
But the competitive spirit is easy to spot in Price-Whitehead. The junior was ranked as the No. 28 recruit for the class of 2021. That versatility -- being able to excel in both the sprints and jumps -- surely plays into his ranking, and he should be getting a number of looks from top collegiate programs in the coming year.
Price-Whitehead closed out his meet at Burdette on a high note, winning the 200 meters in 23.11, punctuating the victory with a fist pump at the finish. He wasn't leaving Lehigh with just one gold medal. He also showed off his durability in the closing meters of the 200. The race was relatively deadlocked with about 50 meters to go, but Price-Whitehead accelerated ahead to capture the win.
Saturday marked yet another big meet for Price-Whitehead, who has been on a roll in December to open up the indoor season. He leapt a US No. 1 in the long jump at Lehigh back on December 14 at the first TFCAofGP meet of the season, a 23-11.25, his second jump over 23 feet already this season. The 24 foot barrier looks like it will be coming soon.
His big jump in the triple at Burdette was another big pop for Price-Whitehead. He ranks as the top triple jumper in Pennsylvania by over two feet and the state's top long jumper by over a foot.
"It really helps me with my confidence and lets me know that I can go even further when it comes to later in the season and outdoor," he said of his early success.
He took a new approach to getting ready for his junior season that has played in a role in his hot start.
"I kept training (in the offseason) compared to last year when I took a break," he said. "To keep myself in shape, keep my mentality the same and it's helping me early in the season."
While Price-Whitehead said he prefers the jumps to the sprints, he recognizes the effect his improvement in the 60 and 200 have had on his approach on the runway.
"It helps in the jumps because I get to carry more speed as long as I can channel it and use it correctly," he said. "It's all just technique and being able to use the speed correctly."
Price-Whitehead has a busy indoor season ahead of him still. He has some big meets circled on his calendar including the VA Showcase. He's proving early on that he's worth watching for every time he compete -- whether it's on the runway or on the track.