Dreher's Patterson Riding Strong Performances into Bojangles'

COLUMBIA - Dreher High's Jacory Patterson turned in a strong March on the track, setting PRs in several events; the kind of performance the junior expects to carry over into April, starting this weekend at the Bojangles' Track and Field Classic.

"I feel good," Patterson told scrunners.com earlier this week, even though he admitted he's been fighting the flu most of the week.

"I've been keeping up with my runs, but that's been about it," he said.
  Still, he thinks he'll do fine this weekend, knowing he's only competing in the 200- and 400-meters and the long jump.

Patterson is currently
U.S. no. 6 in the long jump, thanks to a jump of 24 feet, 2 ½ inches two weeks ago at the Bob Jenkins SCTCCCA Coaches Classic. Prior to that event, he placed first in the Armed Forces Cavalier Relays at Richland Northeast with a leap of 24 feet, 1 ½ inches, and he started off March with a jump of 23 feet, 11 ¾ inches at Lower Richland's Diamond Hornet's Invitational.

Patterson said he enjoys competing in events like Bojangles' (formerly Taco Bell), which annually attracts top high school track and field athletes from up and down the East Coast.

"I'm not saying that South Carolina doesn't have good competition, but the competition in like Bojangles' pushes me a little more because you're competing against athletes from larger states like Georgia and Washington, D.C. and California," he said. "I like being pushed."

"He works hard to be the best at what he does," Dreher track coach Steve Moore said.

Moore said his first encounter with Patterson came during Patterson's freshman year, which was also Moore's first year as Dreher's head track coach. Patterson came out and Moore placed him in the long jump and triple jump.

In the first meet he competed in that season, Patterson jumped over 19 feet in the long jump, Moore said.

"I remember thinking, 'this kid is pretty good,' " Moore said.

Patterson has credited additional training last summer with helping him improve in the jumps and on the track this season. In addition to his recent PR in the long jump, Patterson has also already PR'd this season in the 100 (10.42), 200 (21.20) and 400 (48.59)

He's also run a split of 47.1 this season in the 4x400, Moore said.

"He really wants to be good," Moore said.

Patterson's success this season has earned the attention of others, Moore said, including an invitation for a spot on a U.S. squad competing Memorial Day weekend in an international meet in Cuba.

Twenty-eight U.S. athletes were chosen nationwide for the event, Moore said. It's sponsored by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, which also sponsors the New Balance Nationals.

"It will be a great for (Jacory) to do some international competition," he said. "This is a good start for a junior in high school to go international."

As for this weekend, Patterson said he expects to do much better in the long jump this weekend than he did last year, when he placed 88th

"Last year was my first time (at Bojangles') and I was a little nervous," he said.

His coach isn't concerned, despite Patterson's recent bout with the flu.

"Being out for a week, he's got to lower his expectations. But, he'll be fine."