Toliver enjoying standout winter track season
Jessica Toliver shows her hurdling form during recent practice.
By Jessica Houser
Jessica Toliver has been having a standout season in indoor track and will represent Caroline High School in state and regional competition along with several teammates.
Toliver, a junior, has been participating in track and field events since grade four and has accumulated over 70 medals. She got her start with the county’s department of parks and recreation. By the time she was in middle school she was competing on the high school team.
Toliver has enjoyed track because of the independent nature of the sport, but as she grew older she also realized the team aspect of the sport. “I enjoy how track can be both independent and team-oriented,” she said.
Toliver participates on both the indoor (winter) and outdoor (spring) track teams. For indoor track she competes in such events as 55-meter high hurdles, 55-meter dash, 300-meter dash, long jump, and triple jump.
“I like outdoor track more than indoor because there is more competition,” said Toliver.
A track meet event may be broken down into heats of six or seven students. The best students from each heat compete in the finals. Toliver has competed in the finals at every meet this season.
Toliver has been having a stellar season. For example, at the Fred Hardy Invitational Track Meet at Fork Union Military Academy recently, a meet featuring 34 competing schools, Toliver placed third in triple jump and fourth in 55-meter hurdles; she added seventh place in long jump and 55-meter dash. At the Woodberry Forest Invitational Meet earlier in the season, she snagged three first-place finishes in 55-meter hurdles, 300-meter dash, and triple jump, and she added second place in long jump and third in 55-meter dash.
Although Toliver is having a good season, she might have done even better had it not been for a foot injury at the beginning of the year, noted Coach Sansberry Harvey.
“Jessica needs to let go of her fear of injury and she will do much better,” said Harvey.
Toliver has qualified to compete at the state level in 55-meter hurdles, long jump, and triple jump. The state meet will be held Feb. 25 in Lynchburg, and several other track team members also have qualified: Courtney Didlake, DaQuan Pollard, and Asan Pankey.
Toliver also qualified in 55-meter dash for the regional meet Feb. 15 in Hampton along with Freddie Romero-Baker, Duane Fields, and Pollard.
The indoor track team has one regular meet remaining, Feb. 3 at Woodberry Forest.
“It’s important that Jessica have fun in whatever sport she participates in,” said her mother, Demetrice Toliver. “If she’s having fun, then she’s also doing her best.”
Toliver used to tap dance and play basketball when she was younger. “She stopped tapping and playing basketball when it was no longer fun,” said her mother.
She seeks to instill the importance of education into her daughter and other children, she said. “It’s important that education comes first. By having an education myself, I try to lead the way for my kids.” She hopes her daughter will be able to earn an academic or athletic scholarship for college.
Toliver currently has a 3.2 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0-point scale. “It helps that in order to run track you have to have at least a 2.5 GPA,” she said.
“I want her to continue running track,” said her mother. “It’s important to use what God gives you.”
Toliver also enjoys helping her mother with after-school programs, participating in church activities, journaling, updating her blog, and spending time with friends and family, including her younger brother and two step-sisters.