Her last name demands reverence and respect.
Now, so does her performances on the track.
Jade Pope, a frosh on the Pennsauken High School girls’ track team, won four gold medals in her first sectional championships last weekend.
“I was really excited,” Pope said. “I didn’t know I was going to win four gold as a freshman, it was really an exciting feeling.”
Incredibly, Pope was joined on two of the winning relays by fellow freshmen, including twin sister, Jasmine, and Jon'Nay Lloyd, in the Central Jersey Group 3 championships.
“All three freshmen girls have had success at the club level over the years,” Pennsauken girls’ track coach Phil Zimmerman said. “They've competed at the national level during winter and summer club seasons, so they really aren't too fazed when they're on the bigger stages.”
In the 4x400 relay, Pope ran a personal-best 55.3 split as the Indians clocked a 4:01.09. Jasmine Pope led off, followed by junior Keyoura Smith, Lloyd and then Jade Pope.
In the 4x100 relay, Jade ran with senior Brianna Bryan, Jasmine Pope and Lloyd to win the 400-meter relay in 48.71, which set a school record.
“All three compliment each other nicely,” Zimmerman said. “Jon'Nay is more of a short sprinter, but gritty enough to run the 400 meter on the relay. Jasmine is more of a 200-400 meter long sprinter and has potential in the 800. Jade can do short and long sprints, as well as jump.”
Zimmerman said Jade Pope is New Jersey’s No. 1 frosh in the 400 meters, the No. 2 frosh in the 200 meters and the No. 1 frosh in the high jump.
“When it comes to Jade, she is just different when it comes to track,” Zimmerman said. “She has range from 100 meters up to 800 meters. She's the best freshman high jumper in the state, having cleared 5-3 this spring and 5-6 during the winter. She's even long jumped over 16 feet for us in dual meets.
“She's also a killer in a race. The faster the field, the faster she races, and if she's behind, she's going to give it everything she has to try and run you down.”
Already, Jade Pope has become the runner others are trying to run down.
“I felt great coming in, I did know there would be a lot of challenges,” Pope said about her fantastic frosh season. “But I felt prepared for it and I was excited.”
Racing at Jackson Liberty High School, Pope also won the 400 in 57.04 and the 200 in 25.36 to complete her four gold medal haul in the sectionals.
“People are saying congratulations and saying how I was a freshman,” Pope said about the experience.
Next up is the state championship this weekend.
“Pretty much, I’m trying to get more PR‘s and also in the Meet of Champions,” Pope said. “I want to drop my 400 time down in the 55’s, I did it as a split this weekend but I want to improve it as an open time in the 400.
“Yeah I’m nervous going up against some seniors because they have 55-low,” Jade continued. “There’s going to be a lot of competition, but I’m excited for it.”
She is also excited for her twin sister.
“Yes she likes running with me because of my times, it pushes her,” Pope said.
Of course, Jade is excited for the future of Pennsauken track.
“Yeah we keep getting better and better,” she said, “and we have more years to keep getting better.”