by Max Goodwin
Earlier this month, Jordin McGee had essentially already won two state titles at the Missouri Class 4 Championships as she stepped up to the platform for her sixth and final long jump.
She ran the anchor leg of the 4×100 meter relay team that finished first, and all five of her first jumps would have been enough to win the state championship in the long jump. But there was another mark that McGee was aiming for with that last jump, the school record.
McGee is just a sophomore at Grandview. She grew up down the street from the school. Track and field has always been an important part of her life. Her mother, Kesha Canady, is a college track and field official and a 1992 Grandview graduate. Jordin’s two older siblings have been to college on track scholarships. In the McGee family, track is just part of life.
“I did the long jump and triple jump in college, so, it’s just in the family,” Canady said. “I tell my kids, you can play any sport, whatever sport you want to, but you have to run track. You can do every sport in the world, but the number one thing is track because I always believe that track is going to be your way to college.”
Jordin is the youngest of Canady’s four children, and she’s the shyest. She’s won plenty of races and awards already but doesn’t like to talk about herself.
Her mom says when she was younger, she would say she didn’t like track that much, then Canady would find her in her room, watching races and long jump videos, rewinding, observing, and analyzing the form of different athletes.
As a freshman, she accomplished an extraordinary feat, qualifying for the state championships in four events. Her best finish in any event at state last year was second in the 4×100-meter relay. She was sixth in the long jump. Her goal was to qualify and win all four events this year.
The season started slowly, though. Canady noticed a problem with Jordin’s jumps. Jordin was just copying her older brother Jalen’s jumping style. Working with a personal coach, Jordin developed her own jumping style, lengthening her run, approaching more directly, and not bringing her arm back in the same way as Jalen.
“Don’t copy Jalen,” Canady told Jordin. “Make it your own.”
Jordin began to see improvement in the distance on her jumps. She began threatening Grandview’s long jump record with some of the best jumps in the state this year.
Back in 1982, Rhonda Paine jumped 19 feet and 5.5 inches, a record that stood for 41 years. In 1992, Kesha Canady was a senior at Grandview, determined to break Paine’s records. Canady did break Paine’s triple jump record, but she never broke the long jump record.
That record still stood as Jordin McGee ran down the runway and launched herself into the air at the Class 4 state championships. “She never even touched the board,” Canady said about Jordin’s last attempt of the day.
Jordin fell in hurdles at sectionals and didn’t make her goal of qualifying and winning the state championship in all four of her events. But she was confident all season in her 4×100-meter relay team. She knew they would win a state championship, and with a time of 48.89, just .05 off from a school record, they did win a state championship. Only the long jump remained Jordin’s best event.
“I was just thinking I have to get the record,” Jordin said. “I have to get first because last year I got sixth.”
Jordin’s fourth jump would have broken the record but was wind-aided, so wouldn’t count. With her sixth and final jump, Jordin launched herself through the air without touching the board. She jumped 19 feet and 6.75 inches, breaking Rhonda Paine’s 41-year-old record that Jordin’s mother could never manage to reach.
“Jordin is very quiet. She’s very modest. She’s very humble,” Canady would say days later, reflecting on the events. “And she’s always been like that.“
When Jordin wins a race or jumps her goal, Canady knows exactly how she will react. “She just has a big smile, and that’s all you’re gonna get is a smile, and that’s it. And then she will go on about the rest of her day.”
After winning two state championships and setting a school long jump record, Jordin moved on to the AAU summer season and immediately set a new record. At her first event of the summer, The Great Southwest Classic at The University of New Mexico, Jordin set a new personal record. Her best long jump is now 19 feet and 8 inches.
What’s next for the young track star?
“I’m just trying to get better and keep winning,” she said.