The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

East alumnus Johnnie Jackson Jr. (’12) competes at U.S. Olympic Trials

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Courtesy of LSU Athletics
Johnnie Jackson Jr. (‘12) winds up for a throw

Approximately 4000 years ago, at the Tailteann Games in Tara, Ireland, the Celtic demigod and warrior Cuchulainn gripped a chariot wheel by its axel, spun it around his head, and threw it farther than any mortal. Thus, hammer throwing – one of the most technical events in track and field – was born. Perfecting the sport is harder than it looks – combining strength, timing and balance on top of a need for flawless technique – but Cherry Hill High School East alumnus Johnnie Jackson Jr. (‘12) makes it look easy. Having thrown the best distance in New Jersey history at the Tucson Throws Festival this past May, Jackson qualified for and competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 28 and 30.

Now an NCAA champion, 2x All-American and 2x SEC Indoor Silver Medalist, Jackson began his track career at East. In 2012, he placed 3rd in the Olympic Conference Championships at Washington Township in the shot put and 7th in the discus at the state Group 4 meet at Old Bridge. He then became Colleyville Community College’s school record holder in the men’s hammer and weight throws, a two-time national champion at the NJCAA, and later, one of the most prolific throwers in Louisiana State University history. Rising up the ranks, he became one of the only two NCAA Champions for the event in LSU history, ending his collegiate career ranked No. 2 in the weight and hammer throw on LSU’s all-time indoor and outdoor performance lists.

On May 2-4, 2024, Jackson surpassed his lifetime best of 237-1 from 2021 with an incredible 242-10 at the Tucson Throws Festival at the University of Arizona, cementing his place in New Jersey track history. And with the Olympic Trials “A” standard being 236-2, Jackson’s breakthrough PR set him at No. 10 among U.S. men this year, No. 55 in the world, and No. 43 on the all-time U.S. list. 

With everything leading up to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on June 28 and 30, Jackson placed 19th in Group 1, unfortunately falling short of making it to the finals. Still, his incredible accomplishments up to this point cannot be understated, and there’s no doubt that we’ll see East represented at the Olympics – akin to a modern Tailteann Games – sometime in the future.

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