Eddy Meet: Willis gets the jump on competition
SCHENECTADY This time, Devon Willis didn’t need any final-jump heroics.
The multi-talented Schalmont High School junior won his second straight triple jump crown at the 73rd annual William F. Eddy Jr. Memorial Track & Field Meet Saturday at Schenectady High School’s Larry Mulvaney Field.
Last year, Willis leaped a 46-13⁄4 on his final attempt to grab the title, and he also used his final attempt to hop-skip-and-jump a career-best 48-23⁄4 to win the same event at the recent Loucks Games in White Plains. That mark is ninth in
Section II history. Jahez Salahuddin of Schenectady set the record of 49-31⁄2 in 1992.
Saturday, though, in perfect weather conditions, Willis got the job done early with a 47-11⁄2 jump on his second attempt. He ripped off a couple of 45-plus jumps before fouling on his last attempt in the finals. It didn’t really matter, except for his pride.
Although Willis took home one of the Eddy Meet’s stunning
trophies, he wasn’t quite satisfied with his overall performance. He was hoping for a Section II record in the triple jump but tired in the
finals. He was also gunning for a victory double by taking the
110-meter hurdles earlier in the day, but he finished second to Ticon-deroga’s Jay Hebert.
“It was a little disappointing, but I still got off a good jump, and I still won my second Eddy Meet title,” he said.
“Not winning the hurdles event definitely played a role in my performance. I was motivated to come back and win the triple jump. I knew that there was this kid
[Hebert] who was a really good runner, and coming in second to him wasn’t that bad. I can’t stress about the fact that I finished
second. I definitely used it as mot-ivation in my other event.”
Willis said he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was at the Loucks Games.
“Going back and forth between the hurdles and the jumps is tiring sometimes,” he said. “I felt good this morning when we first started, but I kind of ran out of steam. I didn’t really think about the fact that I wasn’t quite as sharp, but I was looking to go better than 49 feet or something like that. I wanted the Section II record. It just didn’t happen today. My steps were a little off, and my speed to the line wasn’t quite as fast.”
Willis pointed out that every athlete knows if he has his ‘A’ game, and it’s not always easy to be in top form when you compete in several events that require different skills.
“Sometimes, if I’m doing well in the hurdles, it can carry over to the triple jump, but on other days, if I do well in the hurdles, I don’t necessarily do that well in the jump,” he said. “There aren’t always those days when you have both of them going.
“When you feel tired, I still try to give it my all. When my legs get tired, I just push through it and talk to my coaches. Today, the record just didn’t happen.”
Willis says he still has plenty of time to break the sectional record this spring and hopes to do it either in the upcoming sectional qualifiers or the state meet.
“Hey, it still feels good to win the triple jump title at the Eddy Meet again. It’s one of the best track meets around,” Willis said.
Although the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder excels at several different events on the track and the field, he is perhaps better known as an outstanding football player who led the
Sabres to their fifth straight Class B West Division championship and fourth consecutive Section II title-game appearance.
Willis, a running back, was named to the all-state Class B first team for the second year in a row last fall when he piled up 1,632 yards rushing and scored 28 touchdowns. He was the Class B West Division Player of the Year and a Daily Gazette All-Area first-teamer.
Willis not only set a school record with 352 yards rushing in the season opener against Glens Falls, but he also broke loose for better than 200 yards on two other occas-ions and posted at least 100 yards five other times.
The previous season, he rushed for 1,588 yards and scored 19 times.
“Football and track are two different things,” Willis said. “A lot of the things I do for football helps me in track, like strength training and flexibility. But track is my career choice.
“My family and I think I have a better chance to get a Division I scholarship in track, so when I go to college, I’m definitely going to run track. Football is just another sport to help me improve to where I want to be. When I go to college, I’m looking forward to running track. That should give me my education and help me further myself. If a school comes up and offers to have me do both, which might happen, I’d definitely look into it. But right now, my future is track.”
Willis also competes in the pentathlon, and his versatile skills of running, jumping and throwing should go a long way in helping him succeed at the next level, no matter which sports or events he decides to focus on.