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‘I’ve got six jumps to figure it out.’ And on the final attempt, West Linn’s Anika Sukumar hit the big one, allowing her to repeat as 6A girls triple jump champion

“It was about getting hyped, knowing this is it, that you’ve got to put everything into this one jump.”

By René Ferrán | Photo by Taylor Balkom 

Anika Sukumar returned to the site of her best jumps Saturday afternoon and nearly made history. 

The West Linn junior triple-jumped a wind-aided 40 feet at last month’s Oregon Relays at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Now, she faced a final jump in the finals of the Class 6A track and field championships, needing to find another eight inches to beat McDaniel’s Maleigha Canaday-Elliott and successfully defend the title she won at last spring’s culminating-week 6A state meet

“Honestly, finding the board has been one of my biggest problems, if not my biggest problem,” Sukumar said. “But I’ve got six jumps to figure it out.”

She summoned the crowd to begin the rhythmic clap, then sped down the runway. For once, she hit the board perfectly, each step in perfect harmony, and as she landed in the sand, a few gasps emerged.

Finally, the mark was announced — 39 feet, 11½ inches, the fourth-longest legal jump in state history and just a half-inch from the magical 40-foot threshold.

Anika Sukumar West Linn Taylor Balkom

“So, that half-inch,” she said, smiling. “A little bit frustrating, but I was so happy I could show I can go out there and do it, conditions aside. It’s in me, and getting it on the last jump, too.

“It was very nerve-racking, but what it really comes down to is energy. The clap is so good with this crowd, and it was about getting hyped, knowing this is it, that you’ve got to put everything into this one jump, is what really made it stand out.”

Sukumar also loved having a rival in Canaday-Elliott, who has gone 39-1 this spring and finished Saturday with a best of 39-0¼, and who is someone who will return next season to push Sukumar. 

“Last year, I was new, but I was ahead,” Sukumar said. “This year, it was a totally new perspective. I was so grateful to have her here. She’s a really good jumper as well, and it helped to have someone right there, edging me on.”

Sukumar, who placed fourth in Friday’s long jump and ran on two relays that set season-best times (the 4x400 made the podium in seventh), can now focus on summer meets, including the upcoming Nike Junior Nationals next month at Hayward. 

“I still have my eyes on the state record,” she said of Sara Callier’s all-time best 40-7¼ set in 2005. “I’m looking towards hopefully getting that in the summer.”

Best photos from Day 2 of 6A, 5A, 4A Oregon high school track and field state championships