Jasmine Todd was born to jump.
Her father, Larry, coaches field events locally and knew early on that his daughter would succeed.
Bu it was her out-of-nowhere speed gain that really catapulted the Chandler senior to superstardom.
Growing up, Todd was only a middle-of-the-pack sprinter.
“We celebrated when she took third place,” Larry Todd said.
Jasmine made drastic improvement once she dedicated herself to track and surprised nearly everyone — including herself — by beating heralded teammate Larissa Matthews for the 100-meter dash championship as a freshman in 2009.
Todd shaved more than a second off her time from eighth to ninth grade, finishing the race in 12.19 seconds.
“When I beat Larissa, I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’m pretty good at the (100),” Jasmine said.
Since then, the senior has put together one of the most impressive high school careers of anyone in the state’s history.
She has won the state long jump title two times, triple-jump three times and the 100-meter dash twice. She set a state record with a triple-jump of 41 feet, 5 inches last season and is the favorite to win state titles in all three events this May.
Todd has committed to Oregon for college, and is hoping to be in the Olympics in 2016. Before she leaves high school, she hopes to approach 43 feet in the triple-jump and 22 feet in the long jump, marks that would put her among the top jumpers in the country.
For Larry, the coach, there are always corrections to make in Jasmine’s technique. But when he takes the time to be a father, it’s an exhilirating experience.
“If I just stand back as a track and field fan, it’s beautiful,” he said.
Jasmine is entering the stretch run of her high school career. A bothersome hamstring injury last year caused her to miss an extended period of time and took away her chance of winning the 100 at state (Todd still won the long- and triple-jump titles).
She suffered the injury at the Chandler Rotary meet during a sprint, moments after setting the state triple-jump mark.
It was the first time Todd had ever been sidelined for an extended period.
“Sitting out is one of the worst things a track athlete can do,” she said. “Anyone on this team can tell you — we hate telling our coach when we’re hurt because we don’t like sitting out and having to miss a track meet.”
The Rotary returns on Saturday, with a healthy Todd intent on proving herself against elite competition. While the Wolves have no peer in Arizona, long-time Calif. power Long Beach Poly will bring several of its team members to compete in the event, undoubtedly ramping up the intensity.
“Ever since we heard they may be coming, her attitude changed,” Larry Todd said. “Having the big guns gives you that extra push.”
When Todd hits the college level, she will begin focusing exclusively on the jumps.
For now, she’s the Wolves’ all-around star, accumulating more points on her own than many teams do throughout an entire meet. Todd is so talented that even her technically-unsound attempts still rate as some of the best marks in the nation.
“Usually my best jumps are always my ugliest jumps,” she said. “My dad will be like, ‘Your technique is horrible, how did you jump that far?’ I’m usually thinking, ‘Oh, I really messed this one up.’ And then it happens to be a good jump.”
The Chandler track program was on a steady ascent before Todd joined the team, but her multi-dimensional magnificence has pushed the Wolves into another stratosphere.
Chandler has won state titles in all three years of her career and national championships at the Nike Track Nationals in Eugene, Ore. the past two summers.
From Matthews to Keri Suell to Hannah Carson, the program has been home to some of the state’s premier track and field stars. But nobody’s done it quite like Todd.
“I’ve had some really great sprinters and some really great jumpers,” Chandler girls track coach Eric Richardson said. “But a combination of the two? No, not like her.”