Vincent Wilkins Jr.

Vincent Wilkins Jr. 

Vincent Wilkins Jr. delivered his best track and field performances at the right time.

It took several months for Wilkins, a freshman at Parkland, to get fully acclimated to Coach Antwan Hughes’ rigorous training regimen. But now, it’s a different scenario. At the tail-end of the season, Wilkins, a sprinter and long jumper, proved himself as a bona fide talent.

“The biggest challenge for me was getting used to competing against upperclassmen,” Wilkins said. “It’s a much higher level of competition.”

At the Midwest 3-A Regional two weeks ago, Wilkins blazed a career-best 22.3 seconds on his lead-off leg of the 4x200 relay. The Mustangs placed third and qualified for the state championships last weekend.

In the long jump, he barely missed qualifying for the state. Wilkins ended up fifth at 20-feet, 9 inches and was two inches short of placing fourth. The top four regional finishers advance to the state meet.

“Things are beginning to come around for Vincent,” Hughes said. “He’s ending this season on a good note. His 200 relay split was a surprise, I didn’t think he’d get there this quickly. As for the long jump, I’m looking for him to set a new school record at some point.”

Wilkins shows much potential in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, but the long jump appears to be his best event. Although he didn’t make the cut for the state, he has qualified to compete in the long jump at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June.

“Dedication and focus have helped me a lot in the long jump,” he said. “I’ve gotten much better at getting more lift when I’m in the air after my takeoff from the board.”

So far, Wilkins best jump this year is 21-3¼ . But he’s expected to surpass that in the coming weeks. Tarrish Alexander, who coaches Parkland’s jumpers, welcomes the opportunity to bring out the best in Wilkins.

“I worked with Vincent last summer (Lights Out Track Club), but I didn’t have enough time go into a lot of detail about technique because of the all the other events he was in,” Alexander said. “Now that I have him for high school, I get more one-on-one time with him. The added reps he’s getting make a difference.

“There’s no doubt that he has the power and explosion to set a new school record (23-6 outdoors). The goal for now is for him to jump 22 feet this summer. By the time he’s a junior, I believe the record will be well within his reach.”

Wilkins realizes that he’s just starting to tap into his natural abilities. There is one lesson he’s learned which he feels will keep him highly motivated. “You must put in the time and do the necessary work,” he said. “That’s how you get the desired results.”

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Craig T. Greenlee

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