Maelle Jacques is a sophomore at Kearsarge Regional High School, who secured the top position in the girls’ high jump competition during the recent New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association indoor track and field championship.
As anticipated, Jacques displayed unparalleled dominance. He jumped with a 5’1” mark, surpassing every female athlete in the Division II competition. Notably, this was an inch ahead of every other competitor in the female division.
In stark contrast, the boys’ Division II showcased a different level of competition, with the lowest high jump set at 5’8”. The winners in this division reached a height of 6’2”.
Despite the attention garnered by Jacques’ participation on the girls’ team and the consecutive victories over the past two indoor track seasons, the NHIAA has remained silent. The non-profit organization responsible for overseeing high school sports maintains its policy, allowing athletes to compete in the gender division of their choice.
Jacques’ exceptional performance and the string of wins have not gone unnoticed on a national scale. Riley Gaines is a vocal advocate for women’s athletics and a 12-time All-American swimmer. She openly criticized Kearsarge parents for permitting their child to claim victories from female athletes.
Expressing her dismay on social media, Gaines questioned the ethical stance of the parents. She wrote: “How could the parents of this boy allow their son to cheat deserving women out of opportunities? And why don’t the parents of the girls stand up and say ‘no’ for their daughters? This country is full of failing, gutless mothers and fathers.”
While Jacques’ achievements raise concerns about fairness in girls’ sports, the political landscape in New Hampshire offers little reassurance. Democrats in the state legislature, including Rep. Tim Horrigan (D-Dover), continue to resist legislation aimed at safeguarding womens’ sports from male athletes. Horrigan dismissed worries about Jacques’ dominance in the girls’ high jump as an “obscure competition.”
Jacques finished sixth in the high jump, fourteenth in the long jump, and second in the females 1600m in the state championships the previous year.
The decision to let Jacques participate in the girls’ competitions has been supported by a representative for the Kearsarge Regional School District.
Superintendent Winfried Feneberg said in a written statement: “Kearsarge supports all students and student-athletes regardless of their gender identity. Each student-athlete has the right to compete in the activity of their choice.”
“The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s stance on this issue is clear: Denying that opportunity is a violation of equal rights afforded under state and federal law. Further, we believe that limiting access to any activity violates our core mission and vision, which are grounded in supporting every student and student-athlete’s right to pursue their goals and interests.”