Ticonderoga’s Jay Hebert discusses his plans to attend Harvard as his parents, Pat and Julie, look on with Coach Walter Throne. Hebert is a four-time state champion and All-America in track.
Jay Hebert is used to leading the field. He’s a four-time state champion and All-America in track. He’s expected to be named Ticonderoga High School valedictorian in a few weeks.
That’s why colleges across the country recruited him.
It’s also why he choose Harvard.
“I always strive to do my best,” Hebert said. “That includes my education. I want to get the best education possible. I think I can do that at Harvard.”
Hebert made it official during a ceremony at Ti High March 27 — he’ll attend Harvard to continue his academic and track careers. He had been recruited by the University of Southern California, University of Nebraska, Syracuse University and a host of other colleges.
Ivy League colleges like Harvard do not offer athletic scholarships. Harvard will, however, provide Hebert with comparable financial aid.
Success hasn’t come easily for Hebert.
“He’s worked really hard,” his father, Pat, said. “He comes home from school and he does his homework. We’ve never had to ask him to do his homework. All summer he’s up at 5 in the morning to work out at the track. He knows how to work hard.”
That work has paid off.
Hebert earned became an All-American with a sixth place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the New Balance National Indoor Track & Field Championships in New York City March 16. The top six runners were named All-American.
Hebert clocked 8.04 seconds in the final. Isaiah Moore of Burlington. N.C., won the race in 7.79 with Grant Holloway of Chesapeake, Va., second in 7.93 and D-Ante Yarborough of Ashburn, Va., third in 7.95.
Two weeks before that, Hebert won his fourth straight hurdles state championship, taking the 55-meter event. He won the 110-meter hurdles at the outdoor championships in 2012, then captured the 55-meter hurdles indoors and the 110 hurdles outdoors in 2013.
“When I first saw Jay as a seventh grader I knew he could be special,” Walter Thorne, Ti track coach, said. “I told his parents he had the potential to be great. I can see him reaching the Olympics.
“I’ve had a lot of really good athletes, but Jay is the whole package,” Thorne said. “Not only does he have the talent, he has the work ethic. It’s no accident he’s good.”
Hebert will leave Ti High this spring as Section VII’s most decorated track athlete. No one else can match his four state titles.
“He’s the best sprinter ever in our section,” Thorne said. “It’s not even close.”
With a personal best of 22.6 seconds for 200 meters, Thorne believes Hebert will be a versatile contributor to the Harvard track program, although he’ll continue to concentrate on the hurdles.
“He did the 400 (meter) hurdles as a freshman and I believe he can run 21 (seconds) in the 200,” Thorne said of Hebert. “His first 50 meters is easy, smooth and very fast. He’s a great sprinter.”
Hebert’s success is especially impressive when one considers he lives in the north. While athletes in warmer climates train outside all year, Hebert spends the winter months running in the halls of Ti High. At the national championship meet he was the top runner from the north.
In the process of reaching the national championship race Hebert set a Section VII record for the event. He ran 7.86 seconds in the semifinal round.
The national championship event was a different challenge for Hebert. He had competed in the 55-meter hurdles all season, while the rest of the country runs 60 meters.
With his college decision behind him, Hebert is now focused on the outdoor track season. His goals are simple.
“I want to improve, to be faster,” he said.
Whatever Hebert does, his parents will be there to see him.
“We haven’t missed a meet since seventh grade,” his mother, Julie said. “We’ve never missed a meet. That’s one of the good things about Harvard. All the Ivy League schools are within 4-5 hours (drive), so we’ll be able to see some of his meets.”