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STATE CHAMPION: Jelani Watkins Takes Gold at State

STATE CHAMPION: Jelani Watkins Takes Gold at State

Klein Forest Sophomore Jelani Watkins made headlines this past spring when he ran the nation’s fastest 100-meter dash at the Texas Southern University Relays.

He quickly became a crowd favorite during the 2022 State UIL Track and Field competition, where he helped his team take home gold for the 6A 4×200 meter relay, with the third fastest time in state history, then took the top spot for the 6A 200-meter dash with a time of 20.78 seconds.

“Last year, I was a freshman and went to State, but I didn’t place where I wanted to,” Watkins said. “I just returned the next year and worked hard to achieve my goal. One thing I learned is that you can’t give up. Once you give up, that’s it. There’s no coming back from that.”

Jelani was not always this fast – his commitment to outdoing himself on the track is a tradition he hopes to keep up to the collegiate level. 

“I have to continue to push myself and build on the speed that I have,” Jelani said. “When I started, I was fast, but I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at. This year, I powered through the tough workouts, and the results showed on the track.” 

There is no doubt that Jelani’s willpower and determination to reach his goals are outstanding, but he knew he could not do it all alone. 

“My mama is my biggest supporter. Some days, I don’t want to get up and go to practice, but she will get me up,” Jelani said. “I love her to death, and she’s a hard-working woman. That’s where I get it from, and that’s why I do this — so that I can make sure she doesn’t have to worry in the future. I want to succeed so she can chill, sit back, and take all the vacations she wants.” 

Jelani is also close to his Klein Forest track family outside his immediate family. 

“The guys on our team are like my brothers and I love them. We come out here, we joke around, but we still push each other to get faster and stay on top of our stuff,” Jelani said. “When I finish a race, they are all at the podium, waiting for me. Coach Smith means a lot to me, too. He’s like a father figure. I’m hard on myself sometimes, and they are always the ones who bring me back up.”

Jelani’s track family all have one thing in mind for next season. 

“We want to win State as a whole – all the relays, opens, everything,” Jelani said. 

Our Klein Family knows only greatness is in store for this Golden Eagle as he flies by on the track and field next season. We’re sure that he will continue to exemplify excellence in Klein ISD athletics. Congratulations to Jelani Watkins and the entire Klein Forest Boys’ track team for their wins at State!


Klein ISD is AAA in Academics, Arts, and Athletics.

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Klein ISD has an established 84-year history of excellence and innovation in education with unique pathways for EVERY student in our care to ensure learners are college, career, military, and life ready. With recognition for STEM, athletics, fine arts, and academics from highly-esteemed organizations, it is clear that Our Shared Vision of every student entering with a promise and exiting with a purpose is a reality for EVERY student who walks through our doors.

About Klein ISD
Klein ISD is a school district in Klein, Texas, located in northwestern Harris County. The district spans approximately 88 square miles and serves more than 53,000 students in 33 elementary schools, 10 intermediate campuses, one high school program of choice, and 5 high schools.

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