Local high-jumper bounces back from serious injury to take home the gold

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 11:12 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Riesel’s Jamariyan Howlett won the state championship in high jump this month.

At this time a year ago - he could barely walk.

Howlett tells me, “I was born without cartilage in my hip so my bones are just rubbing together.”

It got so bad, Jamariyan had to sit out of sports for a year-and-a-half leading up to his senior year.

“I was really in a low place when it first happened because I didn’t think I would be able to play sports again or do anything like I used to... I could barely walk. Getting out of bed crying because it hurt so much. It was bad,” remembers Howlett.

After months of grueling rehab, Jamariyan was able to return to the court for his senior basketball season, where he caught the eye of Riesel’s track-and-field coach, Ron Ford.

Ford explains, “When I asked him to do track this year, I thought he could jump at least 6′4 or 6′6. Just watching him play basketball and seeing how high he could jump.”

Jamariyan had done high jump before his injury, but he says he had never focused on the fundamentals, so his athleticism didn’t immediately translate over this year.

His coach laughs, “It definitely wasn’t the first track meet. The first track meet Jamariyan jumped just 5′8. I kind of yelled and screamed at him a little bit to tell him he was a better athlete.”

As the year went on, Jamariyan’s jumps continued to get higher – and so did his confidence.

“In the middle of the year, I set personal records every week, in every event I did, and I thought, ‘I can really do this’,” recalls Howlett.

Jamariyan’s success this year earned him a gold medal and the attention of numerous colleges.

He hopes his path from being injured to being a champion will inspire other athletes facing similar adversity.

“They can definitely get through it. I know it is a tough process, but it will pay off in the long run.”

Jamariyan plans to sign his National Letter of Intent to continue his high-jump career at the next level this week.

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