The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Unleashing Potential: Senior Jason Liu’s ‘Leap’ of Resilience Brings Long Jump Success

A sharp exhale marks the beginning of flight for senior Jason Liu. Limbs outstretched, he soars across the sandy expanse, sending a cascade of dust into the air upon landing. Liu’s journey in track has constantly reached new heights after he broke the school long jump record twice and qualified for CIF track and field finals as a junior.

Before joining track as a long jumper, Liu said he was determined to make the volleyball team. But after being cut from the team, Liu decided to try a different sport and attracted the attention of the coaching staff at track tryouts in his sophomore year, according to track coach Cale Kavanaugh. 

“In volleyball you need to be fast, and you need to jump high to be successful,” Liu said. “And that’s why I joined jumps in track. I believed it would help me get a higher vertical [jump height] after sprinting and doing all those workouts coach Kavanaugh had given us to become stronger and more athletic.”

Despite his determination, Liu faced many challenges at the start of his track journey, sustaining multiple injuries. After spraining his ankle and tearing his groin muscles, he struggled to maintain a consistent training schedule and keep up with his teammates, according to Liu. These setbacks took a toll on Liu’s mentality, leading him to repeatedly compare himself to other runners.

“In track and field, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of trying to chase the magic formula for how to get your best performance, instead of just embracing the journey,” Kavanaugh said. “So it was after dealing with injuries and some setbacks, Jason started to trust the process more and really took off. Since then he just continued that momentum, so we think he’s going to have a really great season this year.”

For this season, Liu has prioritized injury prevention, incorporating stretching and strategic breaks into his routine. With guidance from his coach, he has focused on enhancing his speed and strength, balancing high-intensity track workouts with weight room sessions in his practice schedule.

“Coach Kavanaugh is one of my biggest motivators because he really puts hard work into every athlete,” Liu said. “Dealing with 200 kids is definitely a struggle, but he still pays attention to each and every one of us. And when we’ve had success, he cherishes our victories and makes me feel special.” 

Reflecting on Liu’s journey, Kavanaugh says that Liu’s unwavering determination has not only propelled him to personal success but also inspired those around him.

“I remember when he came to us, he was just trying to get PE credit after not making volleyball,” Kavanaugh said. “And then he went from there and turned track into a place that he can call home. I know he is a big inspiration to a lot of people on the team, so it’s been fun to watch him grow into a confident, young man that we’re all really proud of.”

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About the Contributor
Madeline Chung, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Madeline Chung is the Arts and Entertainment Editor for her second and final year on the Portola Pilot. When she is not complaining about how terrible she is at Physics C concepts, you will find her screaming her heart out at karaoke, grooving to New Jeans, or indulging in her favorite foods: Korean BBQ, hotpot, ramen… you name it (not sushi though—she’s allergic). If she is not harassing Elise Ngo, she will be trying to savor every final moment in the newsroom.. and at Portola High. She is so excited to make her last year count.
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