No. 1 in New England: Golden Warrior Jason DeJesus wins New England 55-meter dash title

Mar. 7—A year ago, Andover's Jason DeJesus finished 19th in the preliminary heat of the 55-meters during the Division 1 state track meet. His time was 6.80 seconds. It wasn't good enough to make it to the finals.

Fast forward to this past Saturday, and the senior celebrated as the 55-meter champion ... in all of New England.

That's right. He went from 19th at the Division 1 meet to the best in New England in one calendar year span.

And the incredible story doesn't stop there.

Before the championship race, DeJesus finished fourth in the preliminary heat with a time of 6.53 seconds.

He then ran the race of his life, finishing as the champion with a blazing time of 6.42 seconds.

In one year he took .38 seconds off his time.

That doesn't happen.

"Last year was my first year competing in track and after that (Division 1 race), I knew that I had potential to be great," he said. "After that I knew it was something I wanted to pursue and continue to do in college. I dedicated a lot of my time working on getting faster in the summer with my coach to get ready for track, but also to help me prepare (for this past) football (season)."

DeJesus said he was angry after last week's sixth place finish at the Meet of Champions. That came after taking second at the Division 1 Meet, and before that winning the MVC Meet. He said finishing sixth in all of Massachusetts wasn't good enough.

"In the (preliminary race), I knew I had to come out hard and have a strong race after a bad performance last week at (the Meet of Champions)," he said. "But I was very confident coming in and knew I was going to make the finals after a hard week of practice and perfecting my start since that was my biggest issue from previous meets."

Getting out of the blocks fast enough is always do or die for sprinters. DeJesus perfected that in the final.

"I had my strongest start of the season and I knew I had my best race beating my personal record but I wasn't too sure if I had actually won until the results had popped up in the screen," he said. "It was such a great feeling seeing my name listed first but I knew I could do it from the start. and knowing that I was racing better competition allowed me to come out stronger and faster than the prelims."

DeJesus added that he just really appreciates all of the people who helped him along the way.

"Winning the race felt amazing, as this was monumental achievement in my journey. I am immensely grateful to (assistant) coach (Mark) Hathaway for guiding me to excel and working with me all the time so I could be the best I could be. I also want to thank head coach (Peter Comeau) for always believing in me. I'm also equally thankful to all the coaches for their continued support.

"The victory was even sweeter considering that I placed sixth at the state championships and didn't come close to my personal record last weekend. The relentless effort I put into preparing for this race made the outcome all the more gratifying."

Twitter: @JamiePote