South Effingham’s Darius Scott qualifies for AAU National Junior Olympics

GUYTON — A hop, skip and a jump. Sounds simple, but South Effingham’s Darius Scott knows another side of the triple jump.

 

The Mustangs’ rising senior turned in a surprising performance with a fourth-place finish in the triple with a jump of 47 feet, 2 inches at the Class 5A state track and field championships in May.


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Last weekend at an AAU Region 8 qualifier in Greenville, S.C., Scott was second in the triple with a 45-7 and third in the long jump with a personal-best 22-1 to earn a spot in both events at the AAU National Junior Olympics, which will be held July 31 to Aug. 5 in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“We’ve all been working hard, sweating, crying, hurting to get as good as we can and get to that one goal, the Junior Olympics,” said Scott, who spent the first half of his summer vacation working out daily with his Savannah Silver Cheetah teammates, often at 6 a.m., at Savannah State University.

“We’re trying to make it to the next level, possibly the 2020 Olympics, the 2024 Olympics. It’s a big dream, but it’s not impossible.”

At first, Scott had problems getting off on the right foot, literally. SEHS track and field coach Laura Soles said he scratched attempting jumps during his first three high school meets this spring.

But at a regular-season meet at Southeast Bulloch, Scott produced a triple jump of 45-1 and entered the region competition at Ware County as the top seed.

“I just couldn’t believe I was (scratching meet after meet). I had to get myself together,” Scott said.

He said he had a long talk with his parents. He looked inwardly for strength and spiritually for guidance.

“I re-evaluated why I jump, how I jump, what I’m going to do before and after I jump,” Scott said. “I had to have a routine to be consistent. I knew I could jump far. It’s not as physical as people think. It’s more mental because there’s stuff going through your mind before you jump.”

He won the Region 2-5A meet but with a jump of only 44 feet and one-half inch. Two weeks later, at the Sectionals at Eagle’s Landing in McDonough, Scott was sixth with a 44-8.5.

“He has excellent work ethic and he wasn’t satisfied just being at state. He had the attitude, ‘What else can I do?’” Soles said.

Scott responded at state with a 47-2 — a distance that bettered the county mark (registered by athletes from South Effingham and Effingham County) of 46-5 set by former Mustang Jeremiah Mercer.

Tyjon Williams, now competing at the University of South Carolina, set Effingham County High’s record of 46-2.25 in 2014.

“To jump almost two feet farther, it brought me to tears. It brought me to my knees,” Scott said. “I don’t know if I could have jumped another jump. I jumped up, cried, shouted, pumped my fist, I didn’t care.”

 

Jumping into another endeavor

As if playing football, basketball and track weren’t enough, Scott jumped into public speaking with similar enthusiasm and effort.

He said a counselor at school encouraged him to enter a rotary club competition during his freshman year at SEHS and his mother had the idea about a speech to create awareness about human trafficking.

The more he learned about the topic, the more he wanted to be involved in a solution.

“I didn’t know it was in our (area). I didn’t win (as a freshman), but I thought I had an impactful speech,” Scott said.

As a sophomore, he used the same theme, tuned up his speech and won region, district and area competitions and was one of three who went to the regional convention in Savannah.

Last year, he gave a different speech, again winning region, district and area, culminating with a speech at Jekyll Island.

“It was one of the proudest moments of my life,” Scott said.

His work creating awareness to combat human trafficking wasn’t finished and as a public outreach he gave out 200 free bracelets in Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day to help get the message out.

“It was a great experience, I’m going to learn from that,” Scott said. “(The victims) are real people. They’re moms and dads, sons and daughters. They’re humans, and they’re not to be used as toys or animals. They’re not meant to be degraded. They have prices placed on their lives and it’s unfair, it’s disgusting. It’s a major problem people don’t want to talk about because they feel uncomfortable about it.”

Scott will take a 3.86 grade-point average into his final year of high school. He already has a score of 1200 on his SAT and 26 on his ACT, but plans to retake them to get better scores.

He says his extracurricular involvement should make him more attractive when he pursues colleges.

Scott participated in the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University last weekend.

“It will be a good chance to show this kid from Georgia who jumps 47 has a lot more potential in him but he’s not just good on the track, he’s good in the classroom,” Scott said before the trip. “He sets grades as a priority and he is committed to being an overall great student athlete.

“I’m going to finish strong and when I walk across the (stage for graduation at South Effingham), I’ll be able to say I left it all on the (basketball) court, left it all on the track and left it all in the classroom. I gave it my all and let go and let God take the wheel from there.”

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