Pitt WR recruit finishing high school career in fast lane
Pitt coach Paul Chryst told wide receiver recruit Jester Weah to relax and avoid stress in the final days of his high school career.
Weah decided the best way to do that was to live life in the fast lane.
With graduation from Madison (Wis.) Memorial High School and his first class at Pitt awaiting come June, Weah will try to make Wisconsin track and field history Friday and Saturday at the state championships at Wisconsin-Lacrosse University. He is the No. 1 seed in the 100-meter run and No. 3 in the 200, with school-record times of 10.59 and 21.94 seconds — in his first full year of running track.
“That's crazy to think about,” Weah said.
Madison coach Casey Hopp admires Weah's athletic ability but also is impressed with how hard he has worked to perfect his sprint skills.
“He came in knowing that track and field isn't his forte, but he has been willing to learn from the coaches,” Hopp said. “Other kids are seeing how hard he works and how he dedicated himself to improving. He is definitely the best sprinter we've had.”
When he's in the starting blocks, Weah said he reverts to a football mentality, thinking he needs to get off the mark as quickly as possible to beat press coverage.
But he also runs track for another reason: It's a relaxing climax to his high school days.
“I like meeting new people,” he said. “I just want to have fun. Coach Chryst wanted me to have fun and not stress about anything.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Weah didn't get serious about track until this season. In previous springs, he attended football camps and played AAU basketball. This past winter, Weah averaged 14 points per game for one of the state's top boys basketball teams.
“We really think with his talent level he could have been running these times last year and taken the next step to get into those guys who are of national caliber,” Hopp said.
Weah's time in the 100 is 15th best in Wisconsin track history and the best time in the state in 11 years, Hopp said.
Had he been running in Pennsylvania, Weah's 10.59 time would have won the state championship in 13 of the past 17 years. Among those Pennsylvanians whose championship times were inferior to Weah's were Meyers' Raghib Ismail, who played at Notre Dame and in the NFL (10.63, 1988); former Erie Tech and Pitt wide receiver Dietrich Jells (10.83, 1989); North Hills star Andrew Johnson (10.67, 2003); former Pitt defensive back Tommie Campbell of Aliquippa (10.65, 2005); and current Pitt cornerback Trenton Coles of Clairton (11.15, 2011).
Weah said his goal this weekend is to break the Wisconsin high school record.
“I feel like I have the tools,” he said.
Then it's graduation and off to Pitt, where Chryst needs a starting receiver to pair with senior Devin Street. But if Weah is forced to redshirt, he said he won't complain.
“Redshirting doesn't even matter,” he said, “as long as I'm getting better.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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