HANAHAN -- 2011 was a good year for Hanahan’s Chris Brown.
Among the highlights: Brown was accepted into Notre Dame and he broke the oldest high school record in Class AA track and field in the triple jump (Watch the record jump).
So, what can he do to top that this year as a senior?
"I’m going to try to break the national record in the triple jump."
Brown has certainly set the table for such a lofty goal; last month he joined a select group of fellow high school athletes when he was invited by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation to attend a triple jump clinic held in the Bahamas.
While there, Brown and six other triple jumpers from high schools across the U.S. trained for a week with Peter Pratt who runs Pratt’s Jumpers Inc. Track Club. Pratt has been coaching track and field for 30 years. He is a former Bahamian triple jumper, winner of the inaugural Carifta Games, NCAA Champion and current Bahamian National team coach.
Brown said the seven-day trip exposed him to new techniques he plans to include in his track training regimen heading into the spring.
"The Bahamians are known for their triple jumpers," Brown said. "Over here, we do lots of weight training. But there, they do beach running, which really helps strengthen your legs."
The Foundation also selected Brown last summer to compete with his peers in a national event in Puerto Rico, an event that led to his selection for the Bahama’s session.
Brown, who is also a star wide receiver on the Hawks’ varsity football team, said he was encouraged by some of his upper classmates to try track and field in ninth grade.
"I didn’t want to do it at first," he said. "I thought track was nothing but running 800s and mile runs. I didn’t know about all of the jumps."
David Pratt, track coach at Hanahan, has been teaching Chris since ninth grade.
"I’ve been coaching for 30 years and Chris is probably the best student I’ve coached," Pratt said. "He’s worked very hard to get better since I started coaching him."
Brown said he was coming off a disappointing injury at the start of his junior year and he told Pratt then that he could break that longstanding state record “if not during my junior year then in my senior year.”
At last year’s state Class AA meet in Columbia, Chris broke the 33-year-old record of 50 feet, 6 inches in the triple jump, beating that mark by more than a half of a foot with a leap that measured 51 feet, 2.5 inches. He actually broke the record on his previous jump of 50 feet, 8 inches.
"I put a lot into my training last year and it was pretty cool when they announced it," he said.
Brown also competes in the long jump, where he’s the current state champion, and in the 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay, a group also won state last season. But, his favorite is the triple jump.
Brown says he feels good this year about his chances at breaking the national triple jump mark, or at the very least topping his state mark in that event.
"I feel a lot stronger, a lot faster," he said. "I think (the national triple jump record) is definitely reachable." The national record is 54 feet, 11 inches.
Brown has stepped up his weight training, which he hopes will better prepare him for the upcoming track season at Hanahan and for football at Notre Dame next fall.
Although he was accepted at Notre Dame on a football scholarship, Brown said he plans to continue to compete in track and field there.
"That was one of my bargaining tools when I talked with Notre Dame, to continue running track. If my grades are good, I’ll do track," he said.