Jonathan Wilburn definitely saved his best for last at the Class 3A Illinois High School Association State track and field meet at Eastern Illinois University.
Jonathan soared 47 feet, 2.75 inches on the final effort of his high school career and snatched the State triple jump State championship, beating runner-up Josh Boulanger of Brother Rice by 5 inches.
The Evanston senior became the first athlete in the history of the storied program to earn a State title in the triple jump and captured the first individual State crown for a Wildkit since Tremaine Gordon took top honors in the 200-meter dash in 2010.
Jonathan trailed Boulanger by just 2 inches entering the final round of jumps on May 26. The senior standout knew it was all or nothing for his last jump, and secured the gold medal by keeping his arms raised high on the last phase of the jump.
“I always say this is a superstar meet where the superstars are the ones who get the job done, and Jonathan Wilburn is a superstar,” said Evanston head coach Don Michelin. “He put it all together today. He got his arms up on that last jump, like Coach Harris (assistant Vernard) told him to, and that helped carry him to a State championship.”
“I knew I had to bust it out on that last jump if I wanted to win it,” said Jonathan , a three-year qualifier for the State meet who finished 8th last year. “I went 44-10 on my first jump today and that rattled me a little bit. But I got to 46 feet on my second jump and I thought you’re okay, you’re up there now. I had confidence on that last jump. I knew I’d worked hard for this for 4 years, and it really feels great to win a state championship.”
“This is really a good way for me to end it after four years of hard work, and being the first one to win State really means a lot to me. I came in as a freshman wanting to be a sprinter and I thought I was the fastest guy around. I tried the long jump and did pretty good in that, and I remember when I popped a 38 in my first meet in the triple jump and apparently that was something pretty good. I asked my friend Matt [teammate Matt Caines] if that was a good one, and he said yes.
“As a senior I had all the motivation today, and I knew that a lot of the other guys wouldn’t improve today.”