There was no extensive training for Maurice Easterling. He didn't experience a slow, progressive improvement in the long jump.
The first time the Stepinac senior stepped onto a runway was at Beacon High School. Without any practice or even a warm-up jump, Easterling raced down the runway and launched himself into the sand - 21 feet away from the board.
"He just has a beautiful, fluid movement," Stepinac coach Nick Mitchell said. "He's a natural at the event. I just put him in it and he took off."
"My natural ability is to run and jump," Easterling said. "I enjoy doing it. I bring everything with me when I jump."
Now, a year after that first meet, Easterling is The Journal News Westchester/Putnam boys track and field athlete of the year, coming off his best campaign. He set a personal best at the state meet, jumping 23-5 1/2 - the fourth-best jump in the state this spring.
That jump qualified him for the Federation final, where he took second at 22-10. After leading most of the final day, Easterling finished behind Berfrantz Charles of North Babylon, who won the event with a jump of 23-4 on his last attempt.
"I'm very pleased with placing at states," Easterling said. "I'm proud to finish second.
"I was this close to winning it. I just missed."
Performing his best at the biggest meets is nothing new for Easterling.
Along with his second-place finish in the state Federation, he won the long jump at the CHSAA Intersectional meet at 23-2. He also won the long jump (21-7 1/2 ) and triple jump (43-7 1/4 ) at the Westchester County meet.
Easterling - who starred on the football field for the Crusaders in the fall - was the county long jump champion in all three seasons he competed: winter and spring this school year and spring last year.
"He has the ability to do it when it counts," Mitchell said of Easterling's propensity to perform well at these meets. "He's very clutch.
"He (set a personal record) at states and he was one jump away from being Federation champ."
Even though Easterling's time at Stepinac has ended, both he and Mitchell feel as though there are better jumps in the future.
Currently, Easterling can run the 100-meter dash in 11.6 seconds. Mitchell believes if he can drop that time, Easterling could be a 25- or potentially a 26-foot long jumper and possibly reach 50 feet in the triple jump - an event Easterling has competed in only a handful of times.
"There's still more he can do," Mitchell said. "It's going to be more work for him, but if he does it, he can reach that next level. He has beautiful rhythm down the runway, and when he's in the air, he's so smooth.
"I love watching him jump."