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Jordan Carter of Vista del Lago is the IE Varsity Athlete of the Year – San Bernardino Sun

Vista del Lago’s Jordan Carter was named IE Varsity’s Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year on Thursday, June 6, 2024 in Moreno Valley. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Jordan Carter’s versatile athletic talent means he can make quite an impact. One look at his Vista del Lago High resume – football, basketball and track and field – and he is clearly an in-demand talent.

Carter’s high school graduation was June 5, but that came after he brought a fitting end to the athletics side of his time at Vista del Lago with an athletics season to remember.

A very capable sprinter and versatile enough to shine in the 300 meter hurdles and high jump. Carter’s coaches kept him in the 200 and 400 meters, but moved him into the triple jump and long jump in April. Normally, April is the period when many athletes, after weeks of training and practice, settle into core events to compete in key competitions to build and improve their skills ahead of the May CIF postseason schedule.

Placing Carter in the long and/or triple jump is not unusual for a sprinter. It’s an opportunity to utilize their speed and overall athleticism. But putting Carter, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound athlete, in jumping events past midseason may have seemed a little too risky.

Not for Carter.

“I wanted to try it,” he said. Add a touch of confidence. “A goal I have in life is that I want to be the very best in everything I do.”

Carter’s shift was spurred by a belief in his abilities and athletic sensibilities. He took the change to heart and achieved the best finish in the triple jump in California and ultimately a second-place finish in the triple jump at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.

“Just attending the state meet was a blessing, a great opportunity for me to see what it’s like – and it was awesome,” said Carter, who has been selected as the 2024 IE Varsity Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Had Carter won the triple jump, he would have been Vista del Lago’s first state champion since 2018, when Jaden Ellis won the 110-meter hurdles.

But what Carter did achieve was a visible display of hard work, dedication and a focused mentality to be at his best. Of course, a healthy dose of athletic talent also helps.

His impact was immediate. The school record in the triple jump was 44-7. In his first meeting, an Inland Valley League dual with Lakeside, Carter went 44-5.

Gaining jump experience at marks between 41 and 43 feet, he went 42-11 1/2 to win the IVL triple jump, one of four IVL title-winning efforts alongside the 200 (22.23w seconds, PR), 400 (50 .06) and long jump (20-8 1/2).

When May arrived, so did Carter. He posted a score of 44-7 1/2 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 preliminaries, setting the school record. He increased it to 46-7 1/4 and won the CIF-SS Division 2 title. A jump of 46-6 secured a second-place finish at the CIF-SS Masters Meet, provided consistency in major meets and, best of all, gave Carter his first-place finish at the state meet.

It was a breakthrough moment. Sophomore year, Carter placed fourth in the Division 2 high jump but did not advance to the Masters Meet. His junior year he reached the Masters in the 400, but did not advance to state. This year he performed at Carter’s third different event. Add perseverance to this long list of Carter’s successful traits.

“I was so happy that I finally made it,” he said. “I enjoyed being there, but I didn’t want to show that too much. Others see it and know this is my first time at state. As a senior, it would of course also be my last time.”

In the state preliminaries, he delivered a key moment with a 48-6 3/4, a personal best that stood as the best result of the season for the state.

“The crowd was excited when I got that 48,” Carter remembers. “I like it when I do something good and everyone gets excited about it.”

The next day, Brandon Rush beat Bishop O’Dowd 47-5 in the finals to win the state title. Carter’s wind-assisted 47-2 1/4 point was good for second place. It wasn’t a state title victory, but it was more than enough to demonstrate Carter’s ability to make an impact.

Next stop? Riverside Community College is the favorite and a triple on the football-basketball court is already being considered. It’s a rare feat, but who’s to say he can’t try?

– RYAN T. BLYSTONE

IE VARSITY COACH OF THE YEAR

Derrick Matthews, San Gorgonio

Matthews guided the Spartans to a fifth-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals, the program’s best finish in more than a decade. San Gorgonio finished that meeting with 36 points, which was three times the number of points when the Spartans finished in 18th place in the 2023 Division 3 final. San Gorgonio won all three dual matches in the competition, and the Spartans won six individual events and one relay race during the Sunkist League championship meet. Jaevin Sawyer claimed the Division 3 title in the 100 meters, the program’s first sectional champion since 2012.

– ERIC-PAUL JOHNSON

IE VARSITY FIRST TEAM

Daniel Agbelusi, Beaumont, Sr.

Nicolas Alexis, Big Oak, Jr.

William Isaiah Bright, Murrieta Mesa, Jr.

Westin Brown, Big Oak, Jr.

Jordan Carter, Vista del Lago, Sr. (athlete of the year)

Arthur Celestine, Murrieta Mesa, Sr.

Jayden Epps, Paloma Valley, Sr.

Jeremiah Harris, Roosevelt, Sr.

Juan Juárez, Liberty, Jr.

Benjamin Lingenfelter, Yucaipa, Jr.

Jaden McKee, King, Sr.

Kosi Nwafor, Vista Murrieta, Sr.

Exzavior Oliver, Grand Terrace, Jr.

Jack Paradise, Big Oak, Jr.

Cayden Roberson, Roosevelt, Sr.

Rodney Sermons, Rancho Cucamonga, So.

Dontae Smith, North, Jr.

Maximo Zavaleta, King, Sun.

IE VARSITY SECOND TEAM

Cory Butler, Centennial Jr.

Mikeing Cash, San Bernardino, Sr.

Michael Cullen, Redlands, Jr.

Drew Harisay, Etiwanda, So.

Julian Moore, Vista Murrieta, Sr.

Jackson Morgan, Temescal Canyon, that is.

Tyrus Murguia, Beaumont, Sr.

Ethan Nuechterlein, Vista Murrieta, Sr.

Donovan Ralls, Patriot, Sr.

Amari Reed, Santiago, Sr.

Andrew Robinson, Big Oak, Sr.

Gabriel Rodriguez, Great Oak, Sr.

Jaevin Sawyer, San Gorgonio, Sr.

Cameron Sermons, Rancho Cucamonga, Jr.

Eyan Turk, Woodcrest Christian, Jr.

Joab Vela, Vista Murrieta, Jr.

Jeremiah Wiley, Elsinore, Sr.

Daniel Wimbush, Rancho Cucamonga, Jr.