West Forsyth graduate and state champion high jumper Isaac Osifo has always lived up to the very high expectations where he holds himself.
Going into the season, Osifo told himself that anything less than a state championship would be a failed season.
“[When] I came into this, I couldn’t see myself going home without a state title,” Osifo said. “I’ve been training for this all season and last season, so I knew I was ready.”
The 2021 Class 7A track and field state championships were held at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, and the only person standing between him was McEachern’s Jens Rueckert.
“The crowd would get really into it when McEachern’s guy would land a jump, but it didn’t faze Isaac at all,” West head coach Clayton Tillery said. “He would just go and answer and then sit down. Very business-like out of Isaac.”
Throughout the journey of getting to the 2021 state title, Osifo also set the school record as a part of the 4x100 meter relay team for West. When competing in different events during the meet, Osifo would wear a different color headband for each individual event for good luck. While running, Osifo wears a black headband, but will compete in high jump with a white headband.
“It’s all just athlete superstition,” Osifo said. “But I’m not gonna challenge it or change it up now.”
Osifo always knew he wanted to participate in track competitively at the collegiate level, but it was not until he won Nationals in 2019 at high jump for USA Track and Field that he realized how good he really was.
“It’s crazy because I really didn’t love track at first,” Osifo said. “It just makes my time here worth it. Knowing everything I’ve done since freshman year has led me up to this beautiful moment right now is awesome. I’m glad to be leaving a legacy at West.”
Osifo's season was not as easy as some people might remember. West high jump coach Robert Jenkins was impressed with how well Osifo handled coming in second in the sectional tournament, and he said how that speaks to Osifo’s character.
“He’s also very bright,” Jenkins said. “He’s a great student who is very conscientious. That’s important at a school like Penn State. He has a great foundation. Plus, he’s the best high jumper in the entire state.”
An estimated 15-20 colleges heavily recruited Osifo, but he will continue his track and field career at Penn State University in Pennsylvania. The Penn State coaching staff mentioned to Osifo that he could potentially continue running the 4x400 meter relay and participating in the long jump as well.
“I’m excited for a transition into a new environment,” Osifo said. “That was kind of my thing throughout the recruiting process. I feel like college is a place you need to develop yourself as a person, so Penn State was a place I could do that too. It’s way different than Georgia.”
He said most of his nerves come from the drastic change in temperature from Georgia to Pennsylvania. He has not visited the campus yet, but plans to soon.
“I’m personally really excited about Isaac going to Penn State,” Tillery said. "We talk about running age and I think he has so much more development left in all his events. He’s carrying on a legacy here.”
As Osifo continues his track and field career collegiately, he remembers being five years old and the long car trips to Emory University his dad would take him on to watch their track and field team. It was those trips that made Osifo fall in love with the competitiveness of track and create new dreams.
“My fuel has always been my love for the competition,” Osifo said. “I’ve always been like that. I love the fire and getting to compete for something I care about.”