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Proviso West Senior Jumps To Number One Ranking in State

March 12, 2015 03:10 PM
The 50th Annual Proviso West Boys Track Invitational on February 28 proved to be memorable for more than just being the golden anniversary of the event’s first running, at least for Jamante Steward, a Proviso West senior.
Jamante claimed the number one ranking in the state of Illinois among high jumpers when he jumped over the bar that was six feet, 10 inches high. Not only did the jump win him a first-place finish in the meet, it secured him the top ranking in the state and the number five ranking among high school high jumpers in the nation. 
This was all from someone who only started on the track team last year, during which time he placed fourth at the state meet.
"I used to watch (the University of Illinois at Chicago track team) practice," Jamante said. "I knew I could jump."
During his first two years at Proviso West, he played football. However, he had to overcome challenges that threatened to derail his future. Conversations with track coaches at UIC as well as teachers at Proviso West helped to turn him around, as did joining the Proviso West track team as a high jumper and a runner (he runs the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints), he said.
"Teachers told me the right things to do," Jamante said. "I’d have a long talk with my teachers to keep me on track. And if it wasn’t for track, I don’t know where I’d be."
He proved to be a natural in the high jump. In his first meet, he jumped six feet four inches. He continued that progress to the Illinois state meet, where he finished in fourth with a jump of six feet eight inches among a strong group of seniors. He said that a conversation with Coach Johnny Jenkins helped to calm him down.
"I was nervous, but my coach told me that nobody knew me," said Jamante, who earned a place in Proviso West’s Athletic Wall of Fame with his fourth-place state finish. "I knew that I had to make a statement."
His prowess on the track has also attracted the attention of college coaches. To date, Jamante has had interest from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, UIC, Illinois State University, and Minnesota State University. He is considering majoring in computer science in college.
Mr. Oscar Hawthorne, principal at Proviso West, said that Jamante’s success demonstrates how involvement in extracurricular activities can help a student reach their academic and career goals.
"Jamante found a system of support and discovered his true talent in athletics," Mr. Hawthorne said. "We are all so pleased he is on a path to greatness."


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