On Jan. 23 at the fabled Armory Track and Field Center in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Domonique Panton took off down the triple-jump runway and into rarefied air.
The Freehold Township senior got all of the board, took off and when she landed, she thought he had a modest jump of about 35 feet. That distance would have been poor given her exploits over the last year, but her own calculations turned out to be way off.
“I was really surprised because at first, I thought they were lying,” said Panton, whose jump that day turned out to be a state-best 40-4. “It definitely wasn’t a 35-foot jump. It sinks in that they’re saying it’s a 40-foot jump and you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh.”
A 40-foot jump in the state of New Jersey is massive. Panton, who will continue her education and career at Duke, is only the fourth girl in state history to clear that number. Additionally, the triple jump is not part of the indoor program in New Jersey, so Panton is not putting in big work on the event every day during the winter.
Furthermore, even as Panton prepares for her final outdoor season as the clear NJSIAA Meet of Champions favorite in the event, Freehold Township is still without a jump pit following construction on the football stadium last summer. Panton can still go through drills and practice without the benefit of sand, but it’s not the same. What that means is that much of what Panton is doing is just natural, which should be scary for the competition.
“I only got to go to a few meets indoors to jump and everything is more focused indoors,” Panton said. “You get a little bit of work done inside, you work on your sprinting and you jump off muscle memory. You just go out there and do what you know.”
Panton’s sprinting has improved, which has helped her triple-jumping. Indoors this winter, Panton was the Central Jersey Group IV champion at 55 meters, clocking in at 7.29. A week later, her personal best 7.28 was good for second at Group IV, while a 7.42 at the MOC qualified her for the final.
With the sprinting improving, the triple-jumping has reached new levels. After the 40-4, she was the winner at the Varsity Classic (39-2.25) and the Eastern States Championships (38-6) before earning All-American honors with a 39-8.5 for sixth at New Balance Indoor Nationals.
As the outdoor season arrives, there are going to be more triple-jumpers competing, which means a bigger bull’s-eye on Panton’s back once championship season rolls around beginning with the Monmouth County Championships in early-May.
“I want to hit 40 again or get into that 41 range and win the Meet of Champs, I think those are both reasonable goals,” Panton said. “I was kind of hoping to get close to that again indoors. It’s still shocking that I jumped 40 feet. I’m just aiming to go farther and keep being consistent.”
Staff writer Josh Newman: email@example.com