L.B. Poly T&F star Jade McDonald looks to hit her stride

Standout track athlete Jade McDonald of Long Beach Poly is one of the most decorated track athletes Long Beach has seen. Although her 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19 as a sophomore in 2019, McDonald was a state finalist in three individual events.

She placed fourth in the long jump (19-9.75), seventh in the triple jump (39-05), and eighth in the 100m hurdles (14.5). While 2020 saw a shortened season, the year wasn’t all gloomy for McDonald.

In December, she announced she would take her track and field talents to the Big Ten and the University of Iowa for the next four years. She was also being recruited by UC Berkeley, the University of Idaho, and several other schools.

“I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, in college you tend to find your identity,” McDonald says.

Long Beach Poly High School track and field standout Jade McDonald (center) has committed to attending the University of Iowa after she completes her prep career. Courtesy photo

At Iowa, McDonald has done past research on how she can best prepare herself for the new transition. She hopes after arriving on campus and joining her teammates, making a name for herself and getting her team points is just the start of the many things she hopes to accomplish.

Before her love with track and field began, she participated in gymnastics up until eighth grade. She feels having a background in gymnastics helped her evolve into the athlete she is today. 

“Balancing gymnastics and track was very challenging since both are very demanding sports, McDonald said.  

She adds, “What initially got me into track was when I ran at one of the city fields closest to [Poly] campus, my dad wanted me to run a lap and I did pretty good so he called up some track programs and that’s how this all started”.

Like many other athletes in the class of 2020, recruiting opportunities came at a premium when the coronavirus shut down sports around the country. 

That Hawkeye look: Long Beach Poly High School track and field star Jace McDonald is all about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Courtesy photo

McDonald feels not having recruiting visits was “disappointing,” but after talks with the coaching staff and learning how she can be utilized within the program, she feels the right decision was made.

With COVID-19 numbers steadily improving around the county, it opened the door for CIF to make their long-awaited return to competition. With the adjusted case number at 10.2 cases per 100k (source: CDPH), sports like track and field are able to return.

Track and field across the CIF Southern Section and around California is set to begin on March 20. When asked if she’ll be opting out of her senior year to put her focus on her college aspirations, Jade says “I’ll be running this year, no doubt.”

McDonald has lofty goals she hopes to accomplish in her final year at Poly.

“I hope to PR in every event I do, and progress in everything since I haven’t had an official season since sophomore year,” McDonald said. “As long as I’m pushing myself and doing my best, that’s great for me.”

While it’s been almost a year since she’s last laced up the spikes, McDonald attributes her success to putting herself in a college mindset, where the demand for effort will be at an all-time high running at the Division I level.

“Every practice I have right now, I’m pushing myself as hard as I can and doing the same to my teammates as well,” she says. Additionally, now that a season is in sight there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“As long as we keep training, we’re going to be okay.”

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