Jaleesa McWashington and Maddie Righter are both looking to win state championships at Olathe Northwest this season
Olathe Northwest’s Maddie Righter came into the season as the favorite in 6A to win the state championship in both the high jump and long jump.
Teammate Jaleesa McWashington is Righter’s closest competition in the long jump. McWashington is also the top returning state medalist in the triple jump.
Together, they form one of the top duos in all of Kansas high school track and field. McWashington, a Navy commit, and Righter, a Kansas State commit, will both continue their track careers at the Division I level.
And Olathe Northwest head coach Mike Stephens says Righter and McWashington are just as impressive off the track as they are on it.
“I think it’s important for people to know that not only are these two girls amazing athletes, they are stellar in the classroom; they both boast GPAs around 3.9 and scored very high on the ACT,” Stephens said. “Girls like this don’t come along often, and I am savoring every moment that I get to work with them. They are truly exceptional, all-around kids.”
Righter and McWashington are able to balance a fierce, competitive drive to win with humility.
“Having these two kids on our team is great because they lead by example and they have such a quiet confidence,” Stephens said. “They are also very humble in their accomplishments — and always pushing each other to do better.
“They are super competitive and hate to lose,” Stephens continued. “The last two years of track at Olathe Northwest they have led their teams to two second-place finishes at the state meet — and are hoping for bigger things this season.”
Righter is the defending state runner-up in the long jump and currently the top-ranked jumper in 6A with a personal best of 19 feet, one-half inch on April 1 in Emporia. McWashington is ranked No. 2 with a season best jump of 18 feet, 11.5 inches but holds the school record with her personal best jump of 19 feet, one inch a season ago. She finished fourth at the state meet a year ago with a jump just under 18 feet.
Last Friday, McWashington and Righter went one-two in the long jump at the Shawnee Mission North Relays. McWashington took first with a jump of 18-6.5, while Righter jumped 18-5 for silver.
Stephens describes McWashington as a “natural talent.” She is 6A’s No. 2 ranked girl in the state in the long jump, No. 2 in the triple jump, and No. 4 in the 300 hurdles.
Last season she finished fourth at state in both the long jump and triple jump. This is her first year competing in the 300 hurdles and already she is a state medal contender.
The triple jump might be McWashington’s best event. Her goal is to jump 40 feet in the triple jump, along with winning a state championship in any of her events.
McWashington set the school record in the triple jump last season with a jump of 39-7, the 14th best girls’ triple jump in Kansas history, according to Carol Swenson’s Track in Kansas All-Time Leaderboard.
“She works hard and is ultra-competitive,” Stephens said. “She hates to lose and will battle until all of her events are done.”
Just like McWashington, Righter is a competitor and wants to get better at all of her events every day. Righter competes in the high jump, long jump, 100 hurdles, and the 200.
Righter’s goal is to win the high jump for the second time in her career. This year, she is the only girl in the state to have jumped 5-10 and is a top five jump all-time according to Swenson’s Track in Kansas list. Her long jump score of 19-.5 is also the best in Kansas this year.
If McWashington is 1A in the state, Righter is 1B.
“She is the first kid out of practice and the last one to leave every day,” Stephens said. “Her work ethic is second to none.”
No matter their results at state, these two seniors have left a mark at Olathe Northwest.
“It has been an unbelievable privilege to coach these two kids,” Stephens said. “They are so talented and competitive that it makes it easy to motivate them.”
Gallagher Martin is a sportswriter for Kansas Pregame and the McPherson Sentinel.