Jay Hebert, third from the right, receives his championship medals at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association indoor track championships March 2. Following the meet the 55-meter hurdle specialist learned he had become the top athlete in his event in the nation.
Jay Hebert is breathing rarified air these days.
The Ticonderoga High School junior won a pair of state titles at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association indoor track championships March 2. Then things got crazy.
Following the meet the 55-meter hurdle specialist learned he had become the top athlete in his event in the nation.
“It’s amazing,” Hebert said. “I never could have expected that this year. To be the top-ranked hurdler in the country is unbelievable.”
Hebert was clocked in 7.31 seconds in the championship race at Cornell University, setting a new personal and Section VII record. In fact, he broke his own section and school records in both the preliminary and semifinal rounds.
“I have been running well,” Hebert said. “I felt good going into the meet, but I knew it would be hard. The competition, especially in the final, is always tough.”
It was. Cory Keefe of Oswego was second in 7.40 seconds — 9/100ths of a second behind.
The win gave Hebert both the NYSPHAA and Federation championships. The NYSPHAA includes all the state’s public schools while the Federation includes both public and private schools.
Following the meet, MileSplit.com, a website that tracks high school and collegiate track and cross country athletes nationally, announced Hebert had become the top-ranked hurdler in the United States.
“How low can Hebert go?,” MileSplit asked. “Ticonderoga junior Jay Hebert is the new national leader in the 55m hurdles. Running 7.31, he broke his own personal best by over .12 seconds. He is our athlete of the meet!”
Hebert will be back in action March 16 at the high school national championship meet in New York City’s Armory. His new national ranking makes him a marked man.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Hebert admitted. “Before I was hoping to make it to the podium (medal), but now everyone will expect me to win. That’s what I’ll try and do.”
The 55-meter hurdles is normally decided by hundredths of a second. A bad start, clipping a hurdle, mistiming the finishing lean can all be fatal to a hurdler, which makes Hebert’s feats all the more amazing.
Since finishing third at the state indoor meet last winter, Hebert has been undefeated.
He won the outdoor state and Federation 110-meter hurdle crowns last fall. This winter he won the 55-meter hurdles at the New Balance Games in New York City Jan. 26. Hebert topped a national-class field, winning in 7.43 seconds. That time broke Hebert’s own Section VII and Ti High record for the event. It just missed the track record ot 7.42.
Hebert won the Dartmouth Relays Jan. 12.
Hebert ran 7.54 seconds in a preliminary round to break the record he already held, then ran 7.51 in the finals to win.
Hebert is the first Section VII athlete to ever win an event at the Dartmouth Relays, according his coach, Walter Thorne.
He decided not to play football last fall to concentrate on the hurdles and it has paid off this winter.
“I think not playing football really helped me,” Hebert said. “I’ve been training five days a week on the hurdles for more than a year. That training is really paying off.”
Ticonderoga and Coach Walt Thorne had several other athletes at the state championship meet at Cornell.
Jarryn Granger was 28th in the triple jump, Javeed Nazir finished 30th in the 1,000-meter run, Shawn Silliman was 32nd in the 600 run and Justyn Granger was 39th in the 55-meter sprint during the boys meet.
Sentinel Naomi Forkas finished 31st in the 1,500-meter in the girls meet.