TUBA CITY, Ariz. — In a final neck-and-neck lap, Tuba City High school senior Vaughn Jackson won in two dramatic steps the State Championship, Division III, 1,600 meter run, besting the favored runner from Saguaro High School.
Jackson is the only individual state championship winner this side of Interstate 40 for northern Arizona high schools.
Jackson, from the Hopi village of Mishongnovi, is the son of stepmother Sharlene Navaho and father Sankey Jackson. He is a graduating senior from Tuba City High School.
Jackson began running several years ago and said he can look back to several coaches who have helped him along the way.
“Coach Thomas Hatathli and Celia Seweingyawma, my elementary school coaches, were primary in getting me started on running competitively. But I also want to acknowledge my high school running coach Arvis Myron,” he said. “Coach Myron has been my running coach since my freshman year and he’s been so inspirational, not just in running but I have also been in his Hopi language classes and have been learning more about my own Hopi culture and language through him. I learned that we are related and are clan brothers and it’s been Coach Myron’s knowledge of running as well as Hopi history that have helped me tremendously.”
Jackson said he is inspired deeply by Thomas Hatathli because Hatathli himself has run over 50 marathons.
“My goal is to get to 50 or more marathons, like Coach Hatathli,” he said.
“When I’m running a race, I just think about catching the next guy ahead of me or just keeping the pace. But if it’s a long run, then I start thinking about the next race and my work out plan. If it’s just practice, then I concentrate on what workout plan the coach has set for me and I just try to make it in that time allowed for completion.”
Jackson says his own Hopi tribal heritage has played a big part of his running interest.
“Being a member of the Hopi Tribe gives me pride in our tribal running history, that Hopis have talent in this area, so I have higher expectations of myself when I run. Also, all my training at Tuba City High School helps me when I do run a traditional Hopi race at my home village, so I am grateful for that too because I know I want to do my very best,” Jackson said.
Jackson said running has helped him academically and with the discipline he needed to get a run completed or homework assignments completed.
“It’s also so helpful to have my immediate family at my events, to see my mom and dad standing at the sidelines, or my other family members. It’s an amazing feeling to have them meet me at the finish line. I also want to acknowledge Mrs. Harriet Sloan, my junior high principal, because she always reminded me of what running can do for me, and also Mr. Juwan Nuvayokva, an outstanding winning Hopi runner, for his encouragement and support of my running,” Jackson said.
Jackson will run for Paradise Valley Community College starting this fall.