When Skyline coach Rhonda Saint first saw Jamison Rowell do track and field workouts, she saw raw talent.
Saint also learned quickly that Rowell had the work ethic to go with that talent.
“He has a natural talent and an incredible work ethic. Those two things combined make him a wonderful track athlete,” Saint said. “He is always searching for tips and advice from others on how to get better. Once he sets his mind to learning how to do something, nothing will stop him. I've taken videos of countless practice and meet sessions for him. He analyzes his every move until he finds a way to make what he is doing even better.”
Rowell’s talent and work ethic have landed him the opportunity to compete collegiately, as he signed a letter of intent with the University of Montevallo during a signing ceremony Tuesday at Skyline High School.
Rowell earned a Montevallo offer in February after the AHSAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where he finished as the state runner-up in the Class 1A-3A boys triple jump, was third in the 60-meter hurdles and fourth in the high jump and long jump. He’s followed that up with multiple wins and top-five performances during the outdoor season.
Rowell said Montevallo, an NCAA Division II school near Birmingham that competes in the Gulf South Conference, was “a good fit for me. I fell in love with it when I went there. The whole coaching staff is great. I took the visit and decided it was the place for me.”
Rowell transferred from Geraldine to Skyline this school year after his father, Joey, was hired as a teacher and coach at the school. Before he made the move to Skyline, Rowell was just beginning to compete in track and field program last year — Geraldine did not have a team until last year — and he was only able to compete in a few indoor meets and one outdoor meet before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the outdoor season.
“We started with the very basics (like) learning to use starting blocks and learning to count steps for jumps. He was basically untrained. What he knew, he had taught himself at that point,” Saint said. “I asked if he would be willing to try some new things just to see how it would go. He was fully on board with anything and everything I asked him to try. I would find a training video for him. He could watch something once or twice and then start working on it. He wouldn't rest until he was able to do any event I asked. He has excelled at the jumps. He does long, triple, and high jump most every meet we attend.
“He wanted to do the pentathlon during (the) indoor (season). Hurdles was one of the required events. He and I were both nervous about that. He had never hurdled. We don't have a track to be able to set up hurdles and have a true practice experience. We would set up a few hurdles in the gym and do the best we could. First time he did the 60m hurdles, he turned in a state indoor qualifying time. He has since (ran) in the 110 and 300 hurdles in outdoor. He has excelled in those as well. It is amazing to me to watch a young man participate in a sport that is relatively brand new for him and to see him excel at every event he does.”
Rowell said he will compete in jumps and sprint events for Montevallo and also wants to compete in the decathlon. He’s planning to major in secondary education and wants to teach and coach someday.
Rowell, who also plays baseball and ran cross country for Skyline, said he’s thankful to be finishing his high school career at Skyline.
“This is a great place,” he said. “Teachers are outstanding and the principal is awesome. Got great coaches here. All (the students) took us in very fast. The people are friendly here. They welcomed us right in.”
Rowell is Skyline’s first college signee in track and field.
“The first time I spoke to Jamison, he told me that he was going to do big things this year in track. There was never a doubt in his mind. He has lived up to his promise,” Saint said. “He has been such a positive part of our team this year. I think having him excel and be able to sign with a strong college program will be a tremendous plus for the future of our program at Skyline. I've got a strong group of boys. They work hard and work well together. I think this has helped them to see that there are doors to be opened through track. Jamison is the first ever track signee from Skyline, and hopefully there will be others to follow in his footsteps.”