Jaden Price-Whitehead isn’t your typical teenager, and not just because of what he can do on the track.
A devoted member of his church community and the Black Student Union, Price-Whitehead spent the holidays this past winter distributing food baskets for underprivileged families and volunteered locally on behalf of a youth track team.
“I got my start on my church’s track and field team,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t realize the value of giving of yourself to pour into someone else. As I grew older, I realized that my church provided a safe space for me where I learned the fundamentals of track and field.
“Giving back to my community and church family is the least that I can do, considering the overwhelming support that I benefit from within my family and community.”
Price-Whitehead has reached some pretty lofty heights.
Coming off an outstanding year, the rising senior at Upper Dublin High was named 2019-20 Gatorade Pennsylvania Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Price-Whitehead as Pennsylvania’s best high school boys track & field athlete.
The 5-foot-9, 140-pounder soared 24 feet, 3.25 inches to win the long jump at the Indoor State Championship meet this past winter. He also took third in the triple jump at the event.
The Cardinal’s season-best long jump of 25 feet ranked as the nation’s No. 1 performance among prep competitors in the 2020 indoor campaign. Price-Whitehead also won the long jump in the Emerging Elite division of the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in 2019.
Said his coach, Floyd Dinkins: “What Jaden lacks in size, he makes up for with his heart, drive and desire to compete and be the best. His work ethic is second to none, and he puts in the time to perfect his skills
to be the best when it matters the most.
“The sky’s the limit for Jaden and I can’t wait to see how far he goes.”
That’s high praise >> This may be just the beginning for the Cardinal standout.
“Winning the award means so much to me. It’s a tremendous honor,” he said. “I’ve been putting in lots of hard work training and improving and this recognition demonstrates that all of my hard work is paying off.
“Also, it lets me know that I am performing well and that if I keep progressing on this path, I can compete at the international level.”
One of the most impressive aspects of his day at states was that he felt he could do better.
“The 24-3.25 jump was a great jump, but I know it wasn’t my best,” he said. “This jump came early in the meet (which is a one-day meet), giving me a great shot at winning the gold, while also being able to conserve some energy to compete at a high level in my other events – the triple jump and the 60-meter dash.
“Winning Indoor States was great, especially after coming up short my sophomore season. I set a goal my junior year to win Indoor and Outdoor States, as well as New Balance Nationals. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic took two of those goals away from me.”
Area athletes go into this year a bit uncertain of what to expect.
“As for my senior year, if I was asked this question a year ago, I would have responded that I can’t wait to see where I am on the national scene,” Price-Whitehead said. “However, with the uncertainty of COVID-19, not really knowing if schools will reopen or if there will even be an indoor or outdoor season, it’s really hard to say.
“The shutdown of tracks and other practice facilities this spring has definitely impacted me. Life has changed so much recently. I’m just looking for a sense of normalcy in this new norm. If you really want to know my goals, I was looking to jump much further than 25 feet.”
Through it all, his passion for the sport has never wavered.
“The long jump is an extremely technical event,” he said. “Over the last three years, my coaches (including my dad) and I have focused on a different aspect of my jump each season. We’ve focused on different aspects of my jump like the push out, runway speed, jump angles, etc.
“I have been fortunate to work with coaches who are passionate about me and track and field. Being number one just highlights what hard work means – never give up, never lose focus and always refine or improve.”
Said Price-Whitehead: “I’m definitely looking to compete in track and field on the collegiate level and beyond. I love track and field and competing at a high level.”