Not much has come easy to Momo Peters.
But there was a time when the high jump did.
Peters is a senior track athlete at Father Judge High School, and after a great junior indoor season, he suffered a leg injury that ended up being a torn hamstring.
That not only knocked him out for his outdoor season, it kept him from doing much of anything while he recuperated.
“I went to physical therapy for six months, I had to go to Children’s Hospital, it was hard because I couldn’t really do anything,” said Peters, who lives in Tacony. “I tore my hamstring, they looked at it and there was a hole in it. It ripped at the bottom. I didn’t need surgery, they said it would heal.
“It was hard because I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t work out or anything. It was a big setback. But now it feels great.”
So great, that Peters just got back from states, where he qualified for three events.
He was unable to run to the best of his ability, but he did qualify for the long jump and triple jump, two of his best events. He also qualified for the high jump, which is pretty incredible because it’s an event he rarely competes in. It marked the first time a Judge athlete qualified for states in all three jumps at the outdoor meet.
“That was crazy, I don’t do the high jump, sometimes I’ll do it in meets to score points, but it’s not one of my events,” Peters said. “When I went to qualify, I just had a great jump. I was watching as other people were jumping. I couldn’t believe I qualified, it definitely felt good.”
He then went to states, where he finished 10th out of 25 in the triple jump, 13th in the long jump and while he didn’t place in the high jump, that was more of a lark just getting a chance to compete in that event.
“I did that just because I qualified, I might as well jump, it was more for giggles,” Peters said. “I could have done better in the long jump, definitely. Sometimes you do well and sometimes you don’t. I could have definitely done better.”
Every time Peters performs well, he’s doing so for himself. But he’s also very happy to represent the Crusaders track teams. He’s also representing his father, who has mentored his son in the sport.
“My dad ran, he was actually faster than I am,” Peters said. “He didn’t go to school here, he ran in Liberia. He started out as a soccer player, and played in Europe before he came here. I started playing soccer, and I liked it, and when I was running, I was one of the faster players out there.
“My dad said I would probably be good at track. I ran, but I never ran for a team before seventh grade. I went to St. Matthew’s. My dad helped me a lot. He ran in Liberia and he had better times than me. They don’t have any on-paper records, but he was running low 10s, I’m high 10s, he was running low 21s, and just like me he couldn’t run the 400.”
His family is a big part of his story, but so are his teammates and coaches at Judge.
According to Peters, he’s a better athlete and person because of the influences and friendships he’s made running and jumping for the Crusaders. A three-year football player, Peters gave up his other sport this year so he could focus his attention on becoming a better track star.
It made him fall even more in love with his team and the sport.
“I wouldn’t be where I was without my track team, these guys are the dudes who got me to do track in high school, they motivate me to keep running and working,” Peters said. “It’s not easy for me. There were times when I thought about stopping, but they’re trying their best, they’re motivating me, they tell me they hope I PR. It makes me keep going. It’s what made me fall in love with track. I think they have a big part in why I’m still doing it and why I’m having so much fun with it.”
Next year, Peters will continue his track career when he attends Bucknell University. Just as he was in track, dad was an influence in his choice in majors.
“I think I want to do computer science, I’ve always been into computers and with the way things are nowadays, the field is just getting bigger and bigger,” Peters said. “I also have a backup, I’d like to be an engineer. My dad is a constructor and engineer, he’s worked on so many things and I’ve always been around him. I picked that up as a hobby, too.”
It’s not his only hobby. And the track isn’t the only place where Peters likes to show off his sweet moves.
Peters is a car enthusiast, and spends a lot of time working on his baby, a Mazda 3. Although he’s a very responsible driver, he loves to dress his car up.
“Usually I’m either enjoying time with friends and I’m really into cars, I’m really, really into cars, I’m always doing things to my car,” Peters said. “I got it a while ago, and it’s way different. Different rims, different brakes, engine mods. That’s always been my thing.
“I still have nationals, and I’ll run there, too. This was a great year. I’m fully healthy, I had a great outdoor season with a great team and I’m excited about the fall. Running for Judge really helped me.”