Just a sophomore, Grovetown High School’s Ben Jean is starting to make his presence known.
“We went down to Savannah on Saturday (March 8) and he ran in the 100 meter against 54 other athletes and he finished fourth,” said Grovetown track head coach Rodney Tyson. “Darius (Watkins) won. He’s right there with him and he’s only a sophomore. He’s got time to develop.”
Jean would run with his father when he did PT and started running track in sixth grade. Along the way he’s run sprints and distance events, been on relay teams and been a long jumper.
“I was always a distance runner up until pretty much now,” said Jean, who competed in the 100, 400, 4x100 and 4x400 relays and long jump at the Oconee County-Barberitos Track Classic, finishing seventh in the 100. “I’ve been getting a lot faster lately and I figured I’d try out sprinting especially since I had to get my speed up for football as well.”
A starter since his freshman year, Jean has shown his versatility on the football field.
“I played defensive end, running back, wide receiver and linebacker and punt returner as well,” said Jean. “I’ll play wherever coach needs me, but honestly I prefer anywhere on defense.”
It is that kind of will-do attitude that Tyson thinks will carry Jean a long way.
“If you need an athlete, he can do it,” said Tyson. “He just comes to work every day, puts in the work and I know his future is going to be very bright.”
With weather washing out early-season meets, the most competition Jean faced in the early going came on the track at Grovetown.
“I kind of enjoy practice, actually,” Jean said.
“I’m pretty competitive with all the sprinters here so whatever the event is I always like to run and see how I can do in that. And Darius (Watkins) is always there, too, so I have a lot of competition.”
Running alonside Watkins, Grovetown’s 2013 200 state champion and recent signee with Virginia Tech, is a plus.
“He’s always a constant reminder that you have to put in that work if you want to get better and he’s a phenomenal athlete as well,” said Jean. “He reminds me that I have a lot to go.”
With three years left, he aspires to reach the highest heights.
“I definitely want to become a state champion in any event I can. I’ve been looking at times and stuff from last year’s meets to see where my times are at.”
While doing his own sports, Jean has been an assistant football coach for three years as well, currently an assistant on his brother Joseph’s CAYFA team.
While helping others, the coaching brings his own football into focus as well.
“Coaching is really fun for me. I like to critique a lot of the smaller things I know that at such a young age, if they get it right now it’ll be even better when they’re older.
So now, seeing the coaching aspect of it, it’s completely different, it helps you to understand the game a lot better.”