Up And Over
Whether it's a hurdle or a pit, Clark leaps over it
This summer has already been planned for El Dorado’s Breya Clark. She will depart for Queensland, Australia on July 7 to compete in the Down Under Sports Tournament, representing Arkansas on the track and field team.
It’s a big opportunity for which she’s been raising money for the last several months.
“It’s real important. At first I wasn’t going to go but then I was like, ‘but it would be a good experience.’ I could see other people doing it that’s good, too,” said Clark. “I think it’ll benefit me because I’ll be able to experience seeing other people running from different places. I feel like it’ll give me a challenge to see some different competition.”
While Clark’s summer appears set, her spring has been hotter than July. The junior is coming off the Camden Fairview Cardinal Relays, where she won the high jump and the 100 hurdles, took third in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump.
It was typical of her season, so far.
“If you want to understand what kind of season Breya is having, all you have to do is look at the results,” said El Dorado coach John Koonce. “She has automatically qualified for state in four separate events: the high jump, the triple jump, the 100 meter hurdles, and the 300 meter hurdles. It is an honor to automatically qualify in just one event. Qualifying for four is really something special. She is also a very strong leg for our 4x100 team and she is just one inch shy from automatically qualifying in the long jump as well. When you see these results you understand that she has a level of raw athleticism that doesn’t come around very often.”
As a sophomore, Clark established herself as one of the state’s premier athletes when she won the 6A state championship in the high jump and triple jump and finished second in the state in the 100 hurdles. She was second in the triple jump at the Meet of Champions, third in the high jump and seventh in the 100 hurdles. She then capped her season by placing 12th in the Arkansas State High School Heptathlon.
“What doesn’t show up on paper is her fierce competitive nature,” said Koonce. “This was most evident at the meet in Nashville when she tripped over the third hurdle in the 100 meter hurdles, was passed by the majority of the field, but came back and won the race anyway. When you add in her great attitude it is easy to see why she is performing at such a high level.”
A favorite in four events at nearly every meet, Clark could line her walls with high point awards. That’s not her focus, though.
“These next couple of meets I’m going to focus on the ones I need to get better at,” she said. “Well, I do kind of worry about it but now that I’m just doing the stuff I’m supposed to focus on, I’m not worried about it that much.”
Not that she has much time to worry about anything. Once a meet starts, she runs from event to event - from the high jump to the long jump to the hurdles to the relays. In some cases, she might be competing simultaneously in two events, such as the triple jump and the high jump, on opposite ends of the stadium.
“It’s not really tough on me because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m used to going back and forth,” she said. “I feel like when I don’t have events that are back-to-back, my body gets tired and I get lazy. It’s just something to push me.”
It’s not like she could easily give up an event, anyway. From the hurdles to all of the jumps, she enjoys them all.
“I just like running and jumping,” said Clark, who admitted as a child to launching herself off the swing sets and sailing through the air.
“I’ve always been jumping, like, everywhere. On the basketball court, I like jumping up for rebounds. I like being in the air. I like to see how far I can go, like, up, jumping over the bar.”
She has drawn collegiate interest from schools such as SAU, Navy, Texas, Missouri, Yale and Air Force and said she’s really interested in Arkansas State. But, like her trip to Australia, collegiate track is still in the distant future. For now, she’s focused squarely on this season.
“As good as her season has been, she understands that she is no where near finished,” said Koonce. “Our conference is going to have athletes in every event that she specializes in that are going to push her to the limit. If she doesn’t bring her ‘A’ game, things aren’t going to go the way that we want them to at the conference meet at the end of April, and she understands this. So I expect her to be focused the next couple of weeks because she wants to do the best that she can not just for herself, but for her teammates as well.”
Hurdle cleared: El Dorado's Breya Clark clears a hurdle during the Oil Belt Relays at Memorial Stadium. Clark, a junior, has established herself as one of the premier track and field athletes in the state this season.