By LENNY C. LEPOLA News Assistant Managing Editor
January 1, 2014
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.
Senior Olivia Small, who placed first in Division I long jump at the 2013 Ohio High School Athletic Association 2012 State Track Meet, is training to compete in the indoor long jump, triple jump and high jump.
Sophomore Anna Mackey is second in command in Ryder’s long and triple jump lineup; and junior Avery Kerns is training in the high jump.
The only boy on the jumps squad is junior Cole Stark, also a high jumper. Stark has also added long and triple jumps to his athletic resume.
The Big Walnut High School girls indoor track and field team’s first meet is January 26 at the Ohio Wesleyan University High School Invitational. The Central District Indoor Meet, a.k.a. CDI, will be held March 1 at Otterbein University. The Big Walnut girl’s squad placed first in D-I at last year’s CDI.
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 will be invited to compete at the Saturday, March 8, OATCCC Indoor State Championships held at Akron University.
“You hate to predict how the chips will fall during indoor competition, but Olivia should win the long and triple jump at the OATCCC State Meet, and she could come close to qualifying for the high jump,” Ryder said. “She has the potential of bringing the team 20 points. With Anna competing in the triple jump and long jump and Avery in the high jump, on the right day we could score 30 points – and that’s just from the girl’s team jumpers.”
Ryder said it’s impossible to tell what will happen at the State Indoor Meet in March where there will be 30-plus competitors in each event representing the best of the best from around Ohio, but with indoor track coach Joe Evener’s numbers and quality of returners from last year’s squad he has high expectations.
“There are times when less than 40 points have won the state indoor meet, and we’re easily in that range,” Ryder said. “On the right day, with everyone healthy and motivated, we could have a shot at the state indoor title.”