Jada Ellis of Manchester Township High School still has plenty of running to do before she graduates later this month.  The senior sprinter has swept the 100- and 200-meter races in the county, Shore Conference and sectional championship meets and now has her sights set on the Group 2 meet this weekend at Franklin High School and then hopefully the Meet of Champions. Ellis, who has had a record-setting high school career, is the Shore Sports Network/92.7 WOBM Athlete of the Month award-winner for May.

A captain for both the indoor and outdoor track teams, Ellis made an immediate impact as a freshman by winning the county, Shore and sectional titles in the 100.  As a sophomore, she swept both sprints on the local level and claimed the Group 2 title, as well, and was poised to go to the next level as a junior. Of course, she and all the other track and field athletes lost that season because of the COVID-19 pandemic but she has more than made up for that this spring.

Ellis, who is ranked in the top 15% of her class, will be attending the University of Maryland in the fall where she will run for Terrapins’ head coach and former Manchester Hawk Andrew Valmon, a two-time Olympian who won gold medals as part of the 4x400 relay team in both 1988 and 1992.  She plans to major in engineering.

Ellis earned nearly 28% of the votes cast to beat out Cole Manfro of Brick Memorial (20%) with Donovan Catholic’s James Bivens finishing third (15%).  She received a special award from Ocean Trophies of Lanoka Harbor

for winning the monthly honor, which is open to all Ocean County high schools, who are eligible to nominate one student-athlete each month. The staff of the Shore Sports Network then determines the finalists and viewers then have the opportunity to vote over the course of a week.

Q&A with Jada Ellis:

 Q:      With big meets still remaining what have been some of your highlights during your career at Manchester Township High School?

 A:      Throughout my career I’ve broken six school records, won several championships, qualified and competed in the nationals and won many medals.  However, my biggest accomplishment was returning to the track for the 2019 spring season after getting off crutches following a knee injury and coming back stronger than before. My goals for the next couple of weeks including meeting certain marks my college coach has set for me, breaking more school records and finishing as one of the top three fastest girls in New Jersey.

Q:      How did you handle not having a season due to COVID-19?

 A:      After hearing the season was cancelled I continued to train at All-Star Sports Academy as I wanted to stay in shape just in case any meets opened because I was in my prime after the 2020 winter season.  Being able to return to the track this spring meant I had one last opportunity to leave a mark before heading off to college so I needed to give it all I have to prove I’m ready for the next level.

Q:      What was it that made you commit to the University of Maryland where your coach is Andrew Valmon, who of course had a legendary career at Manchester and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist?

 A:      I was very impressed with the track and field program and was surprised that Andrew Valmon was the head coach.  I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to get even faster and stronger and become the best athlete I could be.  I also liked that UMD is part of the Big Ten conference which is very competitive, but I know I will get the proper training to achieve great things at the collegiate level.

 Q:      How have you been able to balance your time to be a successful student-athlete?

 A:      I was able to find a good balance by creating a schedule for myself.  I like to stay organized and be production so it’s very important for me to know what needs to be done for the day whether it be homework, back-to-back practices, church or chores.

 Q:      Who has been the most influential person in your athletic career?

A:      I can’t pick just one but I would say my family because they are always there to support me on good and bad days.  They know what I go through to reach my goals and I know they are very proud of everything I have been able to achieve.