Jarrion Lawson, Olympic Track and Field Athlete
Getting his start at Liberty Eylau High School, sprinter and long jumper, Jarrion Lawson placed third in the men’s long jump at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Competing for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, he won five individual NCAA championship titles and one relay title between 2014 and 2016. Lawson turned professional after the 2016 collegiate season and signed an endorsement deal with ASICS. He qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
At the time of this article, Jarrion is focused on the upcoming Olympic trials, competing for a position on the 2021 U.S.A. Olympic Team. The Summer Olympics will be held July 23 through August 8, in Tokyo, Japan.
Texarkana wishes him good luck!
Were you a Hawk, Leopard, Razorback or Tiger?
I am a Leopard! I remember playing our rival, Pleasant Grove, in basketball my senior year. It was a district game, and one we needed to win. I remember it specifically because the University of Arkansas Track and Field coaches had come to watch it. They were there as part of the recruiting process. I remember seeing them in the stands with my parents. I made a steal on the opposite end of the court and started to sprint toward our basket. I had my mind made up that I was going for a dunk. I remember taking off from the yellow line, and three of the opposing players jumped with me. I got hit in the face, but still was able to find the rim. I ended up missing it. However, it was one of the highlights of my senior year, and one my college and current professional coach and I remember until this day.
What was the teen hangout when you lived here?
I had a tight circle of friends I used to hang around when I was growing up. We did not have a specific hangout area. What we did is play dominoes. Even when I come back home for the holidays, me and my boys play dominoes. That was our one little escape from everything and still allowed us to have that competitive spirit. My senior year, I think the hangout place became the bowling alley on Mondays. I love to bowl. I have my own shoes and two bowling balls. Dominoes and bowling hold important places in my extracurricular life even now.
What do you love about Texarkana?
Texarkana has been good to me. I love that it’s not a huge city. You don’t have to worry about traffic jams. It has this side of country to it that I like. I lived outside of the city limits, so it was always nice and quiet. We have Wright Patman Lake if you like to fish or be out on the water. Mostly, I like the competitive nature of our city. There are four high schools that all want to be top dog in the city. Being able to compete with cross-town rivals is special. It teaches you so many things. When one team or even one athlete stands out from the rest, the whole city stands behind them. On one hand, you have the competitive rivalry, but on the other hand there is this feeling of unity when necessary. I love it, and I think it has propelled me to have the track and field career I have had.
What do you miss about Texarkana?
I miss the peace and quiet of being at home, getting together with friends and having a good time. I miss the holidays back home. I miss training on my home track at Liberty-Eylau. Most of all, I miss my family’s cooking. It’s just not the same anymore. Nothing beats a good home cooked meal, or even a weekend barbeque. I wish I could go to Grandy’s, Whataburger, and Chicken Express. They don’t have those where I live, so whenever I come home, I try to stop by each one.
What words do you live by?
I live by a few words: authenticity, integrity, excellence and balance. I think it is important to know who you are and be okay with being that person every day. My job requires a lot of physical energy, and I make it a priority to give my best every day. My parents taught me that excellence is not a destination, it is a mindset and lifestyle. Balance is something I picked up as I matured. The importance of being balanced and not too far to one side helps me stay consistent in everything I do.
Where was your favorite place to eat in Texarkana? Any interesting story to tell about that place?
Growing up in the Eylau, there weren’t many options on our side of town. We had Sonic, Burger king, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Chicken Express, but my favorite out of those was Chicken Express. I love their bread-especially with the side of gravy. The chicken was always spot on, but the best part was that sweet tea. I can remember my bro Davion Hall and I had a basketball game out of town my senior year. We knew the bus ride was going to take a while, so we intentionally bought a gallon of tea from chicken express and went to dollar general and bought some plastic cups. We brought it on the bus and had ourselves a good time. Probably should have been drinking water, but you must enjoy yourself sometimes.
What do you think makes Texarkana famous?
I think Stateline makes Texarkana famous. Whenever I tell people about it, they are so amazed that you can stand on either side of the street and be in a different state.
What is your nickname for Texarkana?
My nickname for Texarkana is the twin city! I got that name from a summer track club I used to run for called twin city track club. That is where it all started for me.
TXK Roots is Texarkana Magazine’s forum to highlight and honor Texarkana natives who have accomplished big things in the world. These folks may have relocated, but they took the values, education, work ethic and creativity instilled in them by growing up in this unique border city and used these qualities to blaze extraordinary trails. We asked them to share their thoughts about growing up here. No matter how far from Texarkana they may find themselves, we will always consider them our neighbors and we are proud to claim them as forever members of our extended Texarkana community. After all, “everyone is famous in their hometown!”