Versatility of Willis helped Jamestown to impressive indoor track season

For putting together the best all-around state championship performance of his career this season, Jamestown senior Jordan Willis is the 2016-17 Virginia Gazette Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Willis was second in the long jump (21 feet, 11 inches and about 6.5 inches short of first) in the Group 4A championships at Roanoke College to go along with a seventh-place finish in the 300 meters (36.31) and contributing to the 4x200 relay team that took third in 1:32.37.

Willis was still recovering from the flu that inhibited him more so in the East Region meet in Hampton. He still won the long jump (22 feet, 7.25 inches) and was second in the 300 (35.40).

"I had the flu at the regional meet and had to miss school the next day," Willis said, "but it was worth it because we got to bring home a trophy as (overall team) regional runner-ups. My expectations coming into indoor season were high. On the track, I met my expectations in the sprints. I wish I would have performed better in the jumps, but it wasn't my main focus this season."

Willis said he does love to jump, but may focus on sprinting in college. The National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta (math honors society) has earned an academic scholarship from the College of William and Mary, has also been accepted to the University of Virginia and has been on athletic visits to each school.

Willis started the postseason by taking second by an inch in the Conference 18 long jump as well as the 300.

Jamestown coach Mark Tompkins called Willis "kind, considerate and hard-working."

"Jordan has excelled at Jamestown academically and athletically and he played a key role in the boys winning the Conference 18 championship and being runner-up at our 4A East Region meet," Tompkins said. "Jordan is also active at church with the youth program and helps out with Team Flash in helping inspire younger athletes to try track and field."

Willis, Jamestown teammate Jordan Turner and Lafayette star Konrad Steck have each competed for the locally based Team Flash. Each had strong indoor high school campaigns including Steck, an Air Force Academy recruit that won a 1,600-meter region title and took second in that event at states. Jamestown's Zach Pennycuff also had a stellar senior run including besting Willis for the 300 conference title and taking sixth in that event at states. Turner was fourth in the 55-meter dash at states and second at the region and conference meet.

Willis is leading a Jamestown group that is poised to continue making noise come postseason time in outdoor season.

"The strength of our team indoor season was in the sprinting events," Willis said. "We have had a strong group of three to four sprinters that have been able to score us points. Our distance team is been performing better ever since they had a great cross country season and I am excited to see what they can do in the outdoor season."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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