As one of the most decorated athletes to ever walk the halls of Haralson County High School, Jaylen Sewell leaves a legacy as the greatest track and field performer of all-time to represent the Rebelettes.
The senior sensation closed out her storied career last weekend at the GHSA Track and Field State Championships in Albany, where she brought home four more medals to bump her grand total up to 14 at the high school level.
Haralson County head coach Rhett Robinson said Sewell was second-to-none when it comes to the long list of talents he's coached through the years. So as he is proud to see her go on to the next chapter of her life and athletic career at Savannah State University in the fall, it's also tough saying good-bye.
"It's like I told everyone at the banquet. I've been doing this for 27 years, and that's the best female athlete that I've ever coached," Robinson said. "Words can't express what losing an athlete like that is like. She's a once-in-a-lifetime athlete coming through and I was just so blessed to have her. But she's not just a great athlete, she's a great human being. She's just awesome."
Sewell, too, noted how the finish line to her high school career came a little quicker than expected. But when looking back, there's nothing but good memories on and off the track.
"You think you're ready for it and then it gets here and you realize that you're not ready for it at all," Sewell said. "Getting my medals, I really wanted to get first, but second was OK. Then after I got all my medals, I realized that it's not the medals that really matter. It's the bond that you get with your teammates and your coaches."
After reaching the podium five times as a sophomore and five times last year as a junior, Sewell made one final curtain call in Albany this spring to capture four more medals.
Sewell placed second in both the triple jump (37-10) and long jump (18-2.75) for the field events, and then turned in a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles (43.87) on the track to go along with running a leg on the fourth-place 400-meter relay (49.12). The senior spearheaded the Rebelettes' tie for fifth place in the team standings in Class AAA, scoring the bulk of the 27 points by herself.
"She got four more. She got two seconds and a third this year, so she improved on her standings from last year. We just couldn't put that fifth one together. Our 4x4 team just kind of ran out of gas," Robinson said. "But four medals again, that's pretty outstanding. It gives her 14 medals at state, so that's amazing."
Sewell noted how it's been a long journey to reach this point, and how she never really envisioned enjoying so much success when she arrived at the high school level.
"Coming in as a ninth-grader, nobody is great your ninth-grade year. I was watching everybody jump and they were jumping like 18 feet and I thought I'd never be able to do that," Sewell said. "But now I'm doing that, so it feels really great. Knowing that I'm an inspiration to a lot of people, that means a lot, too."
Looking ahead to her college career, Sewell expects to continue to compete in the jumps, but may do some running events, as well
"Just anything they want me to, really. Mostly jumps, though," Sewell said. "Hopefully, I'm going to get to jump into the 19s in the long jump and the 39s for triple. That's really what I want to hit."
Robinson said it wouldn't surprise him if Sewell became a multi-event athlete at the college level due to her tremendous versatility.
"I think she's going to do outstanding. There's no telling what they're going to put her in. They're talking to her about jumps, but I think the heptathlon or something like that with many events, that might be up her alley, too," Robinson said. "She can run, throw, jump and do everything."
And everything is exactly what Sewell poured into the Rebelette track and field program during her four years at Haralson County, setting the bar extremely high for all those who follow in her footsteps.
"And it's not just the athletic ability, it's as a human being. She's one of a kind," Robinson said.