Winnisquam graduate Jaila Remillard clears a hurdle during the New England Interscholastic Track & Field Championship last month in New Britain, Conn. Remillard, a five-time track state champion, will compete for NCAA Division I Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia beginning in the fall. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 25, 2016TILTON – Like a blur, Jaila Remillard ran by her competitors. For four years, she was rarely challenged, rarely pushed by opponents. When all was said and done, the Winnisquam Regional High School phenom had the numbers to back it up: five state championships, 13 top-five finishes, 10 top-three finishes at the state meet.
Not surprisingly, her track and field career will continue.
The recent graduate will take her talents to NCAA Division I Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. this fall, competing for the Flames during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
"I'm definitely excited," said Remillard of the impending college challenge. "I love my coaches at Winnisquam but I'm also excited for more professional attention in my events. I'm excited to see what they can do with me, what kind of improvements we can make."
Remillard visited the school in February, and after looking at her times and statistics, the coaching staff offered her a walk-on role for hurdles and/or long jump. She had hoped to be living in the track and field dorms in Virginia after reporting in mid-August.
"My dad went to Liberty, but at first, I wasn't really looking there," she admitted. "But I fell in love with the campus and after talking to the coaches, I felt like I'd have a good future academics and sports-wise."
The NHIAA Division III state champion in the 400 meters and long jump, Remillard said her times and marks are comparable to many of the other Liberty athletes, though she very much looks forward to her chance to prove herself at the college level.
"I'm there with some of them but I feel like with the attention you're given from coaches who really know their stuff, I think I have a lot more potential that they can unlock," she said. "I've always gotten my (personal records) at the bigger meets because it's more of an adrenaline thing knowing you have people who are better than you. That's my goal for college, to do my best now that everyone is going to be strong in every event."
Remillard burst onto the scene as a freshman at Winnisquam, taking second in the 400 and fourth in the long jump and 100 hurdles at the state meet during her rookie season. Four years later, she graduated with five school records to her name (200 meters, long jump, 300 hurdles, 400, 100 hurdles).
"Long jump has always been my favorite," she began. "As kids, we'd play games and I'd always try and outdo every one. Then I started doing track in fifth and sixth grade, and I took to it pretty well. But I don't like running all that much, which is ironic, I know. In sixth grade, I got in trouble for talking too much and they had me run a 400 as punishment."
The 400 wound up being one of her best events, and she added the hurdles to her growing list of competitions shortly thereafter.
"The coaches had everyone try hurdles and I remember at first, I didn't like them because I thought, 'Here's 10 opportunities to fall,'" she said with a laugh. "Once you get the form, you just want to do better and better. There's literally obstacles in your way, but I'm a driven person so I always wanted to get over them. Hurdles brings so many analogies but once I start doing an event, I want to get better and better."
Remillard was always one of the busiest athletes at any given track and field event. With so many disciplines on her list each day, she was always on the run, moving from one event to the next.
"I'd say I always try and stay in the moment and when that's my event, I try and focus on everything and the technique, form, go over everything even though I've got a lot on my plate," she explained. "Then after each event ends, 'Okay, this is done. Move on to the next one and then after it's all over, see what you can do to get better."
While she was a dominant figure in the New Hampshire track and field community for four years, Remillard also took up a new challenge during the off-seasons at Winnisquam. She joined the volleyball team as a sophomore, and played basketball this winter as a senior. In retrospect, she admitted she wish she had begun playing both sooner.
"It's definitely different because it's not just you and you have to depend on other people, but at the same time, that's what brings everyone closer," she said of the team aspects of those sports. "Having that environment where it's team; everything is humbling because you're really just contributing to this bigger effort."
Throughout it all, Remillard said perhaps her greatest skill is her ability to adapt to new surroundings, something that will come in quite handy at Liberty. She transferred into Winnisquam from Laconia after eighth grade, and not only did she find a niche in Tilton, she thrived.
"I had to adapt to a new school, adapt to volleyball as a new sport, all sorts of changes," she began. "I feel like adapting is a big thing for me. Going into a new school freshman year taught me to not be so clingy to people. I learned to be a little more independent and make my own decisions. I'm looking forward to that challenge again in the fall."
Whatever challenges present themselves at Liberty, expect Jaila Remillard to clear those hurdles, with eyes on the finish line.