The Cahokia Comanches hopes of a sixth straight Class 2A boys state track and field championship may have been dealt a big blow on Saturday following an injury to national and state record holder Ja’Mari Ward in the triple jump competition at the Collinsville Invitational.
Ward, who set a new meet record of 24 feet, 7 inches in the long jump and placed second to Triad senior Adam Nelson in the 100 meters earlier in the day, was injured on his first attempt in the triple jump when after landing, yelled in pain and crumpled to the field turf at Collinsville High School.
While meet officials, coaches, teammates and medical personnel rushed to Ward’s side, a hush fell over the crowd while one of the nation’s top track and field athletes was in obvious agony on the ground.
Comanches coach Leroy Millsap, who was running the triple jump competition, was one of the first to rush to Ward’s side while athletic trainers assessed the severity of the injury.
“I really don’t know how bad it is or exactly what is hurt. Nobody has told me a thing,” Millsap said. “We’ll certainly do what is best for Ja’Mari and Ja’Mari’s future. His health is what matters. We’ll see how he is tomorrow (Sunday). Hopefully, he’ll keep ice on it tonight.”
Although nobody would confirm the injury, it is believed the injury is to Ward’s left knee. After receiving medical attention on the field, Ward attempted to walk but was eventually carried off the field to receive further medical attention.
Nonetheless, Ward’s distance on the jump of 47 feet, 3 inches in the tripl jump was good enough to win first place in the meet.
Ward set the National Federation of State High School Association’s National Record of 53 feet, 7 1/2 inches in the triple jump nine days ago at the St. Clair County Meet at Belleville West High School.