Ryder’s jump crew prepping for indoor season
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Big Walnut High School jumps coach Mike Ryder doesn’t let moss grow on his key jumpers. You expect to see Ryder and his jumps squad during the spring track and field season, and they’re also visible during summer months training for USA Track & Field Junior Olympic events.
But what about winter months when it’s impossible to jump outdoors?
That’s never a problem for Ryder and his crew. They can be found several evenings each week training in the high school auxiliary gymnasium, getting ready for the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) indoor track and field season.
Junior Olivia Small, who placed second in Division I Long Jump at the 2012 Ohio High School Athletic Association 2012 State Track Meet, is training to compete in the long jump, triple jump and high jump.
Senior Leah Thomas, a two-time OATCCC indoor track and field qualifier who also placed sixth during the State Indoor Meet in the 60-meter sprint last year, will compete in the long and triple jumps.
Sophomore Avery Kerns, who made it to OHSAA Division I Regionals last year in high jump, will compete primarily in the high jump, but Ryder said she might experiment a bit this year in the long and triple jump.
The only boy on the jumps squad is sophomore Cole Stark, also a high jumper who will compete unattached. Ryder said Stark is working on long and triple jumps to add to his athletic resume and might compete in all three this winter.
While the jumpers began practice before Christmas break, they will not compete until February. Their season opens with meets on February 2, 9 and 16 at Ohio State University’s French Field House.
On February 17 they travel to the Kenyon College High School Track Meet, and on March 2 they’re closer to home at the Capital University High School Meet.
On Saturday, March 9, the Girls Indoor Track and Field Team, with Stark jumping unattached, will participate in the Central District Indoor Championships at Otterbein University’s Clements Recreation & Fitness Center.
Following each competition the athletes wait for numbers from around the State of Ohio. The top 16 qualifiers in each event from throughout the state at the end of the indoor season are invited to compete at the Saturday, March 16, OATCCC Indoor State Championships held at Akron University.
“We could potentially have two of the top 16 qualifiers in all three jumps – high, long and triple,” Ryder said. “Olivia could qualify in all three jumps, Leah in long jump and triple jump.”
Asked about the small size of his jumps squad, only four jumpers during the indoor season, Ryder said the important element is the team’s depth.
“These kids work really hard at their craft, and as long as they keep working like they have been I have no doubt that they’ll produce,” Ryder said. “The girls indoor track team finished fourth in the State last winter, and jumpers points contributed a lot to that effort. On the right day we could have a shot at the State Indoor title.”