MIDVALE As he embarks on his senior season at Hillcrest, Justin Judd knows now is the time where he is supposed to take a major leap forward. Rising up as a hurdler makes sense for Judd since it has essentially become a family tradition to do so.
His brother Chase captured a state title during his senior season in the 300 hurdles. Then his sister Amber followed suit with a state crown of her own in the 100 hurdles during her final year of high school competition.
Judd doesn't want to be the one who drops the baton.
"It's a big motivation," Judd said. "A lot of these kids have no idea what can come out of having a state (title). Both my brother and sister got college scholarships."
If his final season is destined to be as memorable, Judd certainly started things the right way. He set a new personal record in the 110 hurdles in Hillcrest's second meet at Taylorsville High after finishing the event in 15.4 seconds.
"If it was an invitational, I might have qualified for state," Judd said. "My 110s are looking like my best event right now."
A good start on the 110 hurdles has Judd pinning high hopes on the 300 hurdles an event he considers his strongest. His best time for the 300 is currently in the mid-41 second range.
Judd hopes an increase in stamina over the next couple of months will drop a second or two off his current mark.
Family tradition isn't the only thing fueling his efforts to become the latest in the Judd family to create a breakout senior season. He also feels driven to avoid repeating a frustrating ending like he experienced as a junior.
Judd finished tenth in the 110 preliminaries at the state meet. His time of 15.76 seconds ended up being five-tenths of a second shy of the qualifying mark for the finals.
Hillcrest track coach Scott Stucki said his senior hurdler put in more than enough work during the offseason to elevate himself to a higher level than before.
"He just looks stronger," Stucki said. "His hurdle times are coming down. He had a decent indoor season. We're hoping that improvement carries through the rest of the outdoor season."
Judd could end up being a major point scorer when everything is said and done. Besides the hurdles, he runs the second leg on Hillcrest's 400 meter relay team and is the first leg on the 1600 relay team. Judd also competes in the long jump.
But the hurdles, said Stucki, are where he will make his primary impact for the Huskies.
"He's got technique and he's got great tenacity," Stucki said. "He really goes after the hurdles. He has better technique than a lot of the kids he hurdles against."
Like many athletes, Judd's time in track aided him in other sports. He enjoyed a successful stint in football, eventually claiming a starting spot at cornerback last fall, after track events improved his speed and endurance.
But Judd has never seen it as a training tool or secondary sport. Like Amber and Chase before him, running the hurdles has been a passion."I knew freshman year what I wanted to do," Judd said. "I knew exactly that I wanted to do the hurdles because it's what my brother and sister did."