Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Woodland Hills Junior Takes Big Leap of Faith

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Woodland Hills Junior Takes Big Leap of Faith

Article excerpt

It's nothing new for Woodland Hills track coach Paul Beard to blurt out something like "Boy, is this kid special" when watching junior standout Isaiah Brooks race down the track or take flight on a jump.

"We said that even in ninth grade," Beard said, laughing.

Brooks often puts people in awe simply by the fact that they don't come across an athlete of his caliber every day. Versatility is one of the most glaring traits of Brooks' track abilities, as he excels in sprints and jumps.

Brooks, a Turtle Creek resident, is among the best in the WPIAL in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, as well as the long jump and triple jump.

His 200 time of 22.39 seconds at the Latrobe Wildcat Invitational and again at last Friday's Baldwin Invitational is the second fastest in the WPIAL this season behind Central Catholic's Ron George (22.28). Brooks is the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion in the long jump and also holds the school record in the event. His top mark in the triple jump is the second best in school history.

"He works very hard," Beard said. "He does the workouts and does some extra stuff. And he's a very good athlete overall. He's very well-rounded."

As far as the events in which he competes, Brooks, a 5-foot-8, 152-pounder, hasn't always been well-rounded as a track athlete. Brooks fell in love with sprinting his freshman season, but had little interest in being a jumper.

Beard said he actually had to force Brooks to give the long jump a try. In just his second time competing in the event at a meet, Brooks took first place at the Latrobe Wildcat Invitational that freshman season.

"Since then, he's become very good," Beard said. "We saw he had it in him. That opened his eyes a little bit and let him know there's more out there than just sprinting."

With hard work and the help of Woodland Hills jumping coach Rick Yeager, Brooks has indeed gotten "very good" in the jumping events, particularly the long jump. After finishing seventh at the WPIAL championships as a freshman with a leap of 22 feet, 1 inch, Brooks captured the title last year after jumping 23-8. That set the school outdoor record.

Brooks set the school indoor record in March when he took home the title at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association indoor championships at Penn State with a mark of 23-91/4. …

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