DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Versatility main ingredient for track and field's Sims

It’s not just track. It’s not just field. It’s track and field.

And Xavier Prep junior Jada Sims has and continues to put her mark on numerous events for the Gators.

She has established automatic state qualifying times/distances in the 100-meter hurdles (15.21 seconds) and the high jump (5 feet, 5 inches) – the latter a school record. And she has provisional state qualifying efforts in two other events – the long jump (17-9 ½) and the 300-meter hurdles (48.75).

On Friday (April 6) and Saturday (April 7), she will be competing in the annual Arcadia Invitational in Arcadia, Calif. She will be entered in the high jump and the 100 hurdles. She joined some of her Xavier teammates for practice on Tuesday (April 3) and Wednesday (April 4).

Meanwhile, a large contingent of Xavier athletes will invade Arizona State’s facility on Thursday (April 5) and Saturday for the annual Sun Angel Invitational.

Sims is excited about her improvements over the season and hopes for more in the weeks leading up to the Division I state meet on May 2, 4 and 5 at Mesa Community College.

Where does Jada Sims want to finish in her events? This photo says it all. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
Sims stands 6 feet tall. Her father, Jerome, was a college basketball player (6-7) at Youngstown State in the early 1990s and her older brother, Jerome III (6-1), recently completed his senior basketball season at Brophy Prep.

She really enjoys it when she hits her stride in the hurdles and negotiates her way over the high-jump bar and lands in the big, pillowy cushion.

“I’ve been doing the hurdles for a long time and I’ve always liked them,’’ she said. “In the high jump, when you make it over, there’s no other feeling like it.’’

The thought process is part of the equation. You must stay focused when you are involved in so many events, as Sims is.

“You want to make sure you are prepared, getting ready for each event, making sure your legs have recovered from the last event and make sure you do your stretching,’’ she said.

Having the proper footwork on the approaches in the high jump and long jump is essential.

Sims achieves a rarity of sorts with those events. She takes off from her left foot in the high jump and her right foot in the long jump.

She is thankful for the assistance she receives from the Xavier event coaches as well as the support of her family. Sometimes her dad will tape her meets and they will sit down and go over the results.

Although her senior year is a year away, Sims already is starting to think about reaching her goal of competing in college. She knows that academics also are a key factor. She said she has a 4.0 grade-point average at XCP. She is taking an advanced computer science course and is aiming toward that area to pursue at the next level.

“I enjoy all of it,’’ she said. “I know that track and field might be considered as individual sports by some people, but there is a lot of team things that are involved. It’s fun to be out here working with my teammates.’’

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