As Jasmine Jones stood, preparing for her final long jump attempt at the Class AAA state meet in Albany, she raised her arms overhead and clapped.
Jones paused and did it again.
Her friends in the stands picked up the iconic Icelandic slow clap and it carried through the crowd.
“I knew I was seeded first going into the finals and I had the last jump so I wanted to make it sort of fun,” Jones said. “Then when you run, the claps get faster and it just gave me a lot of energy. So I jumped really far. I was happy.”
The Greater Atlanta Christian junior set a new state record on the attempt. A year after finishing second by half an inch, Jones went 20 feet, 2 ½ inches to win the championship.
It was the first of five titles for Jones, the Daily Post's Girls Field Performer of the Year.
“She's pretty unique in that she's got the best long jump in the state but also the No. 1 100 hurdles in the whole nation,” GAC head coach Brad Kinser said. “One of the good problems to have is just deciding what her best events are. And she's the ultimate competitor. She set the state record on her last jump.
“When the lights go on, she's really ready to compete and she hates to lose. You wouldn't guess that, maybe, because she's such a nice, humble person. She's so well-rounded. She's great student. She's dances. She's in theater. She's a great teammate.”
Jones was the high-point scorer for Class AAA and led the Spartans to their third title in four years.
Running four finals on the last day of the meet, Jones defended her title in the 100 hurdles in 14.12 seconds. She also won the 200-meter dash in 25.05, a full second faster than the rest of the field.
She helped the Spartans win the 400 relay for the fifth straight year and then was part of the victorious 1,600 relay, which beat Monroe by nearly four seconds.
“I think we started in like third place on Saturday,” Jones said. “We knew from the field events that Jefferson and Monroe has some pretty good ones so we weren't worried. We knew we had some points coming our way (on the track).
“We weren't that nervous, but we didn't want to get too confident. Because last year was sort of upsetting. We didn't want to say anything until it was closer.”
Monroe had the title sewn up with a number of races left in 2018. GAC returned the favor this year.
“Right before the 200, we were looking at who we had in events and who they had left,” Jones said. “We were figuring points every single event and we started getting like, 'Oh, shoot, I think we've got it guys.'”
The girls' estimates had the Spartans winning, but not by a wide margin.
“We thought it was going to come down to the 4X400, but don't get too confident,” she said.
GAC finished 25 points ahead of Monroe.
“It was super fun,” said Jones, who has won 11 state track and field titles in three years. “We had higher spirits through the whole meet. We had more hope and more energy — last year we felt sort of defeated because we sort of already knew.”
Her dad, Henry, is the Spartans sprint coach and knew it was locked up before the 1,600 relay. He asked Jasmine if she knew.
“We knew 'just don't get last place and we'll be OK,'” she said with a laugh.
It capped an exemplary junior season for Jones, one of the nation's best hurdlers. She changed up her event schedule during the high school season, dropping the 300 hurdles and adding the 200. Jones owns the state record in the 300 hurdles and was the two-time defending champ.
“We did it because we have this new girl (Danielle Jones) coming up who would be pretty good at the 300 hurdles and then we had lost our two seniors who were in the sprints,” Jones said. “(The 200) was fun.”
She didn't run the 200 that often during the season, in part because she was off competing at a number of prestigious meets in California.
“People were making fun of me that I wasn't even on the team until it came down to (the end) — which is kind of true,” Jones said with a laugh.
It's hard to blame her when things went so well on the West Coast.
Jones posted the nation's top time in the 100 hurdles this season at the Arcadia Invitational. Her 13.33 seconds lowered the mark held by St. Katherine Drexel Prep (La.) senior Alia Armstrong, who won the event at last summer’s USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.
She bettered a mark set the month before (13.49) at the Stanford Invitational.
“I'm happy,” said Jones, who is still weighing a multitude of college options. “This season went well.”
With the long jump, Jones now holds four state records and has won an individual title in four different events.
“That's a pretty amazing athlete,” Kinser said.
Jones got dialed in on the long jump this season, though her runner-up finish as a sophomore was certainly affected by a strained hamstring.
“I've long jumped since I was 9 or 10 and I was pretty good at the beginning,” she said. “Then I sort of took a break from it when I started getting really good at hurdles. I came back to it for high school track because we wanted those field event points. I wasn't good, but I wasn't bad.
“I'd been jumping 19s, but my 20s had been scratches so I knew I could jump a 20 but I wanted to get one that really counts. This year, we worked a lot on what was wrong with my long jumps. At state, things just came together really perfectly.”