Prize Recruit — Jasmine Montgomery

Montgomery was our No. 1 All-America in the 100, No. 3 in the 200 and anchored the No. 2 team in the 4×1. (BERT RICHARDSON)

SHE DOESN’T EVEN HESITATE. Jasmine Montgomery (Reagan, San Antonio) says her most important race in a season that saw the undefeated Texan rate No. 1 in the nation in the 100 was her dash to 1st at State.

“It’s something I’ve always really wanted to do since my freshman year,” says Oregon’s blue-chipper. “I remember the first time I went, I didn’t really do as good as I wanted to, but you know, I was a freshman, so they were like, ‘Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.’

“But my sophomore year I didn’t do it once again, didn’t do as well.”

Like the rest of most preps, she had no ’20 State when it was canceled because of the pandemic.

“And so I really wanted to go and I really wanted to like leave a legacy in Texas as well. I didn’t want to, you know, run and ‘It’s whatever’ and go to college. I wanted to leave my mark in Texas. I wanted to make sure that people remember what I did.”

That was her mindset when she settled into the blocks for this year’s 100. Earlier in the day she had anchored Reagan’s 4×1 to a runner-up finish in 45.00, one of the top 20 times in U.S. history.

She got out even at the gun, moved to the lead by 30m and streaked to the finish, hitting the line two strides clear of the field in 11.09w, helped along by a 4.6 wind.

“My start was pretty good; it could have been better,” she judges. “The best part was I was just really locked in and prepared.” She followed up with a dominating 200 win in 22.94w (2.2).

The journey to wanting to be the fastest sprinter out there began when Montgomery was a kid and watched older sister Linsey win the state’s private-school 100 title in ’13:

“She actually was the first one to start running track in our family. I always looked up to her and I was usually pretty fast, so I wanted to follow her footsteps. I started running track in fifth or sixth grade. I found out I had a little speed to me and so my parents signed me up for summer track and you know, the rest is history.”

By the time she walked in the doors of Reagan High, she already had run bests of 12.90 and 26.75. “My first week of my freshman year,” she says, “I looked at the records and I was like, ‘I really want to have my record in this case. And I want to have a record that’s basically unbeatable.”

As a frosh she improved to 12.33 and 24.88, finishing 8th at State in the half-lapper. As a soph she took 7th in both sprints, clocking 11.83 and 24.55.

Junior year was a story of sprinter-interrupted: “We were getting ready to go to the Texas Relays and we got the thing saying the season is canceled. I was pretty upset because I was thinking I could have podiumed or even won but we’ll never know. To have that taken away was more motivation to do better my senior year and make sure I leave everything on the track.”

Working with coach Jen McHugh, Montgomery hit it hard in the off-season. “I was doing as much as I could. As the months kept going, especially as I got closer to December and January, the workload got a little more intense. I was always working.”

It showed. Indoors she hit PRs of 7.51 and 24.34. Outdoors, she sprinted 11.16 and 23.27w in March prior to her State victories.

In the postseason, Montgomery concentrated on the 100, winning at the adidas Boost Boston Games in a PR 11.27, followed by the national title at NSAF/Nike in 11.44.

Not till the campaign was over did it hit her that she was undefeated. “The thing was, I kept it one race at a time. I didn’t notice the streak until I was done. My mom was the one who brought it up. She was like, ‘You were blessed to be undefeated the whole season.’ I just kept the perspective of not being stressed about it. When you stress about ‘I don’t want to lose a race,’ I think that’s what makes people tight, I think that’s what makes you lose, you’re so scared to lose.”

That final race in Hayward Field carried extra meaning for the 18-year-old. “I had taken a small break [after adidas Boost] but I was still training hard. It was really, really important to me, my first race at Hayward. Just to win it was really special.”

That’s because Montgomery had decided many years earlier that she would one day wear the green and yellow of the Oregon Ducks.

“Honestly, it was my dream school since I was like 12. I remember I told my summer track coach and he told me, ‘Well, then we have a lot of work to do because, you know, it’s Oregon.’

“I remember really, really wanting to go there. I didn’t even know where the school was located in Oregon. It’s very, very far from Texas. So when they offered me a chance to come up here with them, it was a dream come true.”

At the end of summer, Montgomery packed her bags and made the 1700-mile trip to work with Robert Johnson and sprint assistant Curtis Taylor. She already knew what she needed to focus on.

“My start has always been the worst part of my race. And I really need to work on that reaction time.” Combine that with a training regimen that she calls “definitely a step up,” she hopes that sub-11 may come her way soon. Especially since she’s training alongside Kemba Nelson, last year’s NCAA Indoor dash champ who has a 10.98 best.

“Training alongside her and other people has been inspiring and amazing. They’re really helping me get better.”

Taylor is impressed with his new charge. “She’s a work in progress, she’s doing fantastic, working hard and trying to absorb a lot of stuff.

“The tip of the iceberg is what we’re seeing from her now. She was under the radar before the pandemic. We like kids who like Oregon, so it was a good recruiting experience.”

Planning to major in Business and Fashion Design, Montgomery is busy putting herself in position to make an impact on the track next spring: “I’m taking it one step at a time, but I really want to go to the NCAAs and hopefully podium. I really want to run as close to sub-11 as possible and see what I can do. I’m not really going to put a time on it, I just want to leave my freshman season and say I really did my best.”