A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, our Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts” each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June.
FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – During his high school career, this San Joaquin Memorial Panther has been dominant in football, baseball and track. Jalen McMillan is best known for leaving defensive backs in the dust on the gridiron.
McMillan and the Memorial football team won back-to-back-to-back valley championships beginning his sophomore year. However, that “championship mindset” wasn’t fully integrated until the Panthers lost to Bakersfield Christian in the semifinal game during his freshman year.
“We built the program differently,” McMillan said. “We changed everything, we believed a certain process and it’s been working ever since.”
Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC are just a few of the big-name schools to be interested in Jalen McMillan. He chose the Washington Huskies.
“Washington’s gonna take care of him,” said J.D. Salles, Memorial’s head baseball coach. “He’s gonna show up there, put the work in. He’s an NFL-type guy.”
That is coming from his high school baseball coach. The Panthers were on the hunt to win three straight valley titles on the diamond as well.
That is, until their season came to a sudden halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s difficult,” said McMillan. “You know you want to do so many things with this team, and your brothers, and it just ends and you know it’s not gonna happen again.”
Through nine games, McMillan was hitting .400 with eight RBI and five stolen bases. His baseball career isn’t over, however. He plans on playing both football and baseball at Washington.
“He’s long, athletic and strong. He passes the eyeball test for sure,” explained Salles.
And then there is track. Jalen McMillan was also one of the fastest sprinters in California.
“He was part of this huge renaissance that we are having at Memorial with our track program,” said Fabian Barrett, Memorial’s head track & field coach. “He was definitely the catalyst to launch us to that next level.”
McMillan qualified for the state track meet the last two years. He won the 200 meters at the valley championships, becoming the first male track athlete at Memorial to win a valley title in close to 50 years.
Barrett thinks this year was going to be McMillan’s year.
“I would have no doubt that he would be top three easy, if not the number one guy in the 100 and 200,” Barrett said. “He was faster than he’s ever been, he was lifting more than he’s ever lifted. He was the strongest version of himself, the best prepared version of himself that I had a chance to see.”
As far as playing three sports in high school, Jalen McMillan said that helped him in many ways.
“It kept me healthy,” he explained. “I’d go to football to baseball to track so I wouldn’t be working every single part of my body. Track definitely helped me get faster, and baseball, it took a lot off my body and I was able to focus on my mind a lot.”
Jalen McMillan was recently named Memorial’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2019-2020.