LAKEWOOD – This was the first time at the state track & field meet for Brandon Hills, but he’s jumped on bigger stages.

The Vista Ridge sophomore won the 5A long jump championship on Friday, leaping 23-foot-2 to outdistance the 18-jumper field by 5 ½ inches.

“It was a really good atmosphere,” said Hills, who entered as the top seed in the event. “It was a lot of pressure and stuff. First time, it was good.”

Hills had experience to draw from. In 2019 he won gold in the long jump at the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., recording a jump of 6.31 meters (about 20-foot-7) to take the 13-14 age division.

He had entered the USATF program at 6 and “I took a liking to it.”

But Hills has not pigeon-holed himself as a jumper. He will also run the 100- and 200-meter finals on Saturday in the state meet that is his first because the 2019 event was cancelled because of COVID-19.

He’s also a football player who has amassed 50 catches for 906 yards and 13 touchdowns during his freshman and (truncated) sophomore seasons. He averaged 122 yards per game as a sophomore, earned all-conference honors and already has an offer from NCAA Division II New Mexico Highlands.

He’s uncertain if his future will ultimately be in track & field or football. Maybe it won’t be a one-or-the-other proposition.

“I don’t know, I just want to go to college,” he said. “I want to do both for as long as I can.”

But on Thursday, it was all about the jumps. And Hills knew his history in the event and the state's top mark entering the day didn't mean anything in the moment.

"You’ve got to get out there and do it, you've got a lot to live up to it," he said. "It was good. It wasn’t my best though. It was enough to edge through."