Grovetown High School’s Rudy Valentine is hoping to make his mark in the long jump this week at the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state boys track meet in Jefferson, Ga.
After participating in the sectional competition in which the top eight qualify in each event, the Warriors’ 15-year-old sophomore is going into the competition with his eyes open.
“It was kind of a reality check going into sectionals because the competition was a lot harder,” said Valentine, who took seventh in the long jump and 10th in the triple jump after winning both at the county and region level. “I’m not exactly expecting to get first place to be honest, I’ve got to be realistic, I just want to make sure I do the best that I can.”
Grovetown head coach Rodney Tyson likes the potential his young jumper has.
“He’s got the right genes to carry on and take this thing to the next level and he’s definitely got the drive and the work ethic for it,” said Tyson, referring to Valentine’s brother Lincoln Carr, who was a jumper at the University of South Carolina. “I’m just looking forward to working with him in the next couple of years and the sky is the limit for him.”
Valentine says the skill has come naturally to him.
“I just always could jump,” said Valentine. “When I was in seventh grade, I played basketball and I was just grabbing the rim, things like that.”
Valentine will be looking to make it to varsity basketball squad as a junior after being named the junior varsity’s MVP from his point guard position in 2014.
Ask him to choose between basketball and track and a long silence ensues. He does believe, however, that track may take him further than basketball.
“I believe it would be easier for me to get a scholarship in track, but I think I have the potential still to get a scholarship in basketball.”
In the meantime though, he apsires to be like teammate Darius Watkins who won the school’s first state championship in the 200 meters in 2013.
“Every time Darius goes to any track meet, everybody’s talking about who he is,” said Valentine. “I want to be like that when it comes to long jump and triple jump where every time I go to a meet they’re talking about who I am. I want to be able to actually win a state championship.”
His real inspiration comes from a much closer source, however.
“My brother jumps over 50 feet, I believe, in the triple jump and a 24 in the long jump,” Valentine said. “That was after he started training. When he didn’t train, he started off just like me. So when I think about it, I’m just like I can get there. I can probably be greater than him.”