Greg Dohler/The Gazette ¬ Brielyn Rogers of Bishop McNamara, shown here at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, competes in multiple track and field events.
Bishop McNamara’s Brielyn Rogers, competing for the first time ever in the triple jump, held the fifth-best mark in a qualifying meet for the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships. Only the top three triple jumpers at the meet advanced, and Rogers had one jump remaining.
“That particular day, I saw something special,” said her coach, Keith Chapman. “I knew she was going to be special.
“The look she had on her face and the determination that she had, that she was going to qualify, when she came down that runway, you knew something spectacular was going to happen.”
On her final jump, Rogers hopped, bounded and jumped her way into the top three and reached the Junior Olympic games entering her freshman year.
But Rogers, who is now a senior and has run track since kindergarten, was actually so new to the triple jump, she didn’t know whether her jump was any good. In fact, Rogers, who prides herself on competing in many events, had barely even practiced the triple jump leading up to the qualifying meet.
“I didn’t think it was going to be an event that I would get good at or keep doing,” Rogers said.
In the four years since that first competitive triple jump, Rogers - The Gazette’s girls indoor track and field Athlete of the Year - has become one of the area’s best triple jumpers. She won the Private & Independent School Invitational, Montgomery Invitational and Hispanic Games before peaking with a jump of 39 feet and 6.75 inches at the New Balance Nationals indoor meet this winter.
Rogers has signed with the University of Tennessee to continue her track and field tenure, but it wasn’t so long ago that she didn’t take the sport as seriously.
In elementary school, she did tap, jazz and ballet dance recitals before her father stepped in.
“I really wanted to continue with dance, but my dad said, ‘No,’” Rogers said. “Because I guess he saw potential in me to do track.”
Then there was the time Rogers went swimming the day before a big meet, tiring herself out. Again, here father intervened.
“He pulled me out of the pool,” Rogers said. “He was just mad. He didn’t really say words, but he was just mad.”
Now, Rogers credits him with pushing her to become better. Though Chapman said Rogers has always been competitive, he never saw it come through like it did with one jump remaining four years ago. Her inner fire has only intensified since.
“When her back is against the wall, she comes out fighting,” said Chapman, who coaches Rogers at Bishop McNamara. “And that is a great thing.”
“She speaks it. She says, ‘I’m going to do this jump. I’m going to qualify. I’m going to make the final.’ She don’t say it egotistically. ... Of course, she means it. She tells it to me, and she goes there and executes.”