Take a hop, skip and a giant leap and welcome to TH Wei’s athletic world.
He’s among the best high school triple jumpers in the state and is focusing the next two weekends on a second straight trip to the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High School in Clovis.
Wei, a South Pasadena High junior, still has a couple of more big steps before he qualifies for the coveted trip, including this week’s CIF-Southern Section finals at El Camino College in Torrance and the Masters Meet a week later at the same site in anticipation to California’s showcase event for the state’s elite prep track stars. Wei goes into this week’s competition as the defending champion in CIF Division 3.
He was introduced to the triple jump by Tigers’ track and field coach C.B. Richards as a freshman and reached the CIF finals two years ago. It was his sophomore season, however, when Wei began to elevate his talent in the event, coming home with a fifth place finish last year in state competition.
“I attribute my success to proper form, the technicality of the sport,” explained Wei. “I see a lot of athletes who jump on their athletic ability, not their form.”
The triple jump requires the competitor to speed down a runway, perform a hop, a bound and then a long jump into a sand pit.
“I don’t think I have better hops than other competitors,” he said. “I just have been work on making it perfect, the angle and that sort of thing, so I can jump further.”
His best leap was set this year at the Arcadia Invitational when he sailed 47 feet, 11 and three quarter inches.
Admittedly, Wei says the season has been “a little rough on me. It was really quick, and I also injured myself with a hamstring (injury). Now I’m just trying to get myself back on the road to state.”
Wei is naturally driven, as he assesses his success. “I think I really wanted to be good,” he said. “I have the mentality to reach a certain mark or I want to beat someone and push really hard to get better.”
Richards might be just as driven as he continues to push standout athletes at the school to excel at their highest level, reminding Wei, “There is no guarantee to state,” he said, stressing, “he has to stay healthy, jump great to just advance this week. It’s a loaded field in CIF.”
His desire to be the best is Wei’s best attribute, according to Richards, explaining, “He is confident and knows he can develop more. His best is still ahead of him and he knows he has a lot more to do. TH is still learning and growing as a jumper. He still makes mistakes here and there as a young person, but he learns! We have been working on his ability to turn those mistakes into good teaching moments so he can evolve to become an even better athlete.”
Wei is beginning to hear from universities with scholarship offers, Stanford knocking the loudest, along with inquires from Duke, Columbia and Michigan.
“Those are the big four,” said Wei as he looks to concentrate on engineering and science in the classroom, even questioning that decision at this point to some degree. “I’m not sure, a little undecided,” said the 17-year-old, who was born in China, but has lived in South Pasadena since the age of two. “I still have time.”
Wei also qualified for the CIF finals in long jump but his main focus will be in the triple. Beyond an anticipated trip to the state meet in the event, he hopes to continue improving over the summer by competing in a number of national competitions.
To reach CIF, Wei had a solid performance in the Rio Hondo League meet at South Pasadena High on April 26, winning the triple jump and 100, finishing second in the long jump and helping the Tigers to a second place finish in the 4×1 relay.
TH is not the only athlete from South Pasadena High seeking a spot at the state level.
Headed to the next qualifying stage in Torrance this weekend will be Lucas Tailin in the pole vault, Kai Dettman and Gianna Beasley in the 800 meters for the boys and girls, respectively, the 4×400 girls’ team consisting of Jade Harris, Ashley Hugasian, Christina Taylor and Beasley, the 4×400 boys unit of Ferrel Mansano, Terrel Mansano, Ivan Estrada and Kai Dettman. Kevin Kang will be an alternate in the long jump.
“Dettman has a great chance to qualify for the Masters but will have to run fast in the 800 meters, possibly win it as his time will have to be in the top 12 out of all divisions,” said Richards, the Tigers’ coach.
He’s also counting on a big performance from Beasley, saying: “We haven’t seen her best 800 meter race yet this season. She has chance if she can put it all together.”
Richards also likes the odds of Tailin, a new comer to the pole vault, going deep into the competition Saturday, along with the boys’ 4×400 relay team. “If they run a personal best in a fast finals and place in the top two or three, they have a chance of going to Masters.”
He’s also expecting his relay teams to also come up with top performances.
The Tigers’ coach said he’s confident every one of his athletes will give it their best in hopes of reaching the doorstep to the State Meet May 24-25.
“The CIF Southern Section Masters Meet is actually harder to qualify than state,” he said. “So, for any of our athletes to make it will be a great accomplishment.”