Palmerton’s Nelson named TN/LVHN Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Failure can be a powerful motivator.
It was for Palmerton’s Jordan Nelson.
The junior had a rough time during the first day of the District 11 Track and Field Championships, fouling on all three attempts in the long jump event.
But despite not reaching those finals, he made it his mission to do better on Day 2.
Needless to say, mission accomplished.
Nelson rebounded in a big way, capturing firsts and setting area bests in three events. From there, he went to states and finished third in the 110 high hurdles.
Those accomplishments helped him earn the Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year award.
“The first day (of districts) I was a little bummed out because I fouled all three times in long jump,” said Nelson. “But I knew I had a chance in three other events, so I just decided to go out and do my best and contribute to the team.
“That first day definitely motivated me ... I was just amped up to go out and try and get gold.”
The talented Blue Bomber athlete not only outclassed the field in his two remaining individual events (110 HH, triple jump) on the second day of districts, but he did so in convincing fashion. Big on setting goals, Nelson reached two of them that day.
In the 110 hurdles he broke the tape in 14.68, while in the triple jump he recorded a distance of 44-0 1/4. He was also a member of Palmerton’s 400 relay team that won in a time of 43.86.
“Yeah, I’m definitely a goal guy,” said Nelson. “I wanted to get sub-15 in the 110 hurdles and 44 feet for the triple jump. And I was able to get both.
“States was really exciting. We had a couple seniors go out ... and it was just great to be able to go out there with those guys one last time. I’ve been close with all of them my whole life and it was just an enjoyable time.”
The experience was made even more special when he made it to the finals in the 110s and ran a 14.89 to earn a third-place medal. Ironically, Nelson didn’t even like the event when he first started participating in track.
“My favorite event now is the 110 hurdles,” said Nelson. “In junior high I was never a fan of it but my hurdle coach, Coach (Winnie) Cseh, really pushed me to do it in high school. When I started getting a little better at it, that’s when I started to like it more. And from then on, I just stuck with it. It motivates me when I go on MileSplit and see where my ranking is, and from there I just wanted to keep doing it.”
Truth be told, Nelson — who is also the starting quarterback on the football team — could probably compete in most any event and have success, a testament to his all-around athletic ability.
And that skill set is not lost on the coaching staff.
“Jordan is a terrific athlete,” said Palmerton head track coach Mike Gombert. “He’s already in football mode with summer camp ... but he’s just one of those kids that I think always stays in great shape. We’ve already talked about his interest at the next level because he certainly has options with both sports.
“There were some football coaches that came during the season to watch him compete in track, and I think track really lends itself quite well to the natural abilities of athletes, and Jordan is able to compete in events where his athleticism, his size, his physical stature really allows for college coaches to see what kind of athlete they’d be getting. It’s almost like having a combine or a personal workout.”
With his talent, and the individual accomplishments to back it up, Nelson could easily sit back and dwell on his success.
But that’s not part of his character.
When asked about his top highlight of the season, he didn’t even hesitate.
“The league title was definitely my highlight, because that meant a lot to everybody,” said Nelson about the Palmerton boys team sharing the Colonial League regular-season title. “That day when we found out, all of us were really excited, jumping around and hugging each other. It was just a great time to experience. It felt good to be able to contribute to the team. It really meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to our seniors.”
“That’s rather noble of him to say because he’s earned a lot of individual accolades,” said Gombert. “But I’m not surprised that he felt that way because it’s something he helped earn and won with everybody else.”
While earning medals and returning to states seems like a foregone conclusion, there is something that Nelson may never be comfortable with — no matter how many times he wins.
“Jordan is very confident in his ability,” said Gombert. “He’s very competitive and he has goals and aspirations of what he wants to achieve before his career is over. But he’s very humble. He’s not the kind of kid that seeks the limelight. I think if he had his choice ... he’d be just fine if they handed him his medal as he was walking off the track.
“When he’s on the medal stand, he probably can’t wait to get off. The pictures are taken and the names are announced, but I don’t think he can get off the medal stand soon enough. He doesn’t seek out attention or notoriety.”