High jumper sails to school’s first individual gold medal
Malik Broughton didn’t feel great when he walked out on the track the morning of the GHSA state track and field championships in Jefferson.
Broughton’s event was up early on the first day of the meet, and the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was cold in Jefferson, but, even worse for a high jumper, it was raining.
The rain led to a slippery track and a dose of adversity for every athlete in the competition.
“I didn’t mind the cold,” Broughton said in Jefferson. “The rain was different.”
While the rain slowed him down, the weather could not stop Broughton from bringing the first state championship to Veterans with a jump of 6 feet, 8 inches.
“I like to be the one who set the precedent,” said Broughton, The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Track and Field Athlete of the year. “I still have the school record (at 7-2). I like the idea guys will be chasing that, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Broughton entered the state meet on an unprecedented run.
He won a region championship and then elevated to an unthinkable height of 7-2 at a sectional track meet. Only two other athletes in America had cleared 7-2 when the GHSA state meet began.
“He’s a special athlete,” Veterans head coach Steve Ruzic said. “He can do some great things when he puts his mind to it.”
Broughton went to Jefferson with hopes of jumping 7-4 and breaking the 30-year-old state record. He barely clipped that height with his heel at the sectional meet, so he felt the goal was a realistic one.
The senior had to adapt quickly when he started the championship competition. The hardest rain had already saturated the ground when the Class AAAA high jump began, but a steady mist continued to fall during the event.
The conditions caused the entire field, including Broughton, to struggle early and often.
Broughton missed twice at 6-2, a height he could have started at with no issues under normal conditions. After clearing 6-4, Broughton missed twice at 6-6.
“I was a wreck,” Broughton said. “I probably looked cool over there waiting, but I was a mess. I was going crazy.”
Broughton cleared 6-6 on his final attempt and 6-8 on his second try. After his final fellow competitor failed to clear 6-8, Broughton had the state title and chose to move the height at 7-0. He slipped on the wet track on his first attempt and hit the bar on his final two tries.
“There were three or four times where it just became survive,” Broughton said.
The confidence and success gained this season likely will push Broughton to continue the high jump in college. He could have picked just about any school he wanted if he focused just on track, but Broughton’s first love is football, and he signed to play wide receiver at Albany State. Broughton said there’s a pretty good chance he’ll continue high jumping in college, as well.