High jumpers
Seniors Bella Case and Justin Meredith celebrate their senior season.
Photo by Chloe Arndt

Senior High Jumpers Set the Bar High

Alex Baker

Bella Case, senior chemistry major with a minor in biology, is hoping that her last track and field season is her best one yet. “I think our women’s team has the potential to win outdoor conference,” Case said. “That would be the best senior year send-off.” With the indoor track season underway, Case is excited about the opportunities she sees for her teammates. “Our team is young, but deep in talent,” Case said. “I am looking forward to watching my teammates get new personal bests on their personal events.” With their young talent, Case believes that the program is in safe hands and their winning ways will stay intact for years to come.

Justin Meredith, secondary education and history major with minors in peace studies and philosophy, is also eager to make his senior campaign his most memorable one. Meredith is more focused on savoring every moment with his fellow Spartans. “I am really looking forward to making the most out of every little thing I can,” Meredith said. “I am looking forward to spending time making memories with my teammates because, after this, memories are all I will have left. I might as well make as many as I can.”

Looking back to the track season, Case has had an impressive start. “So far, I have matched or set new personal bests for me (times and heights),” said Case with a smile. “Also, I was expected to finish in seventh place at the conference championship, but I finished in fifth so I ended up scoring more points than anticipated.”

On the other hand, Meredith has not had the greatest of starts, but he still has a positive mindset. “I have had some mechanical issues with my jumps, but we have finally fixed the issue and I am really excited for the potential of a great outdoor season,” Meredith said.

Many athletes have their own unique superstitions before their event that gets them mentally prepared. For Case, she has a fear of getting hurt. To overcome this fear, she studies the art of jumping from the best jumpers in the world. “To mentally prepare myself, I watch other jumpers such as Mondo Duplantis, Sam Kendricks, and Sandi Morris,” Case said. “While watching them, I envision myself doing the exact same technique.”

Case noted that vaulting is a very complex sport. Each sort of jump has its own mechanics that can be difficult to master. For vaulting, these mechanics would include the run, the pole drop, the plant (when the pole is put into the ground), swing, and the finish. Each of these factors must be perfected in order to have a safe and successful jump.

Case utilizes two strategies that help implement these mechanics. “My first strategy is to jump every time like I am in a meet,” Case said. “Practice makes perfect, so I have to have a competitive mindset while I am training.” She is always focus on finding small details on how to improve her jump. “My second strategy is to pick one or two things to think about while I am jumping,” Case said. “If I try to fix everything at once, it just ends up being a mess.”

Meredith is huge on pre-event rituals. “The night before, I lay out the same travel outfit I always do, pack my uniform, and my different pairs of socks I use for long and triple jump,” Meredith said. “On meet day, I take a nap on the bus on the way there and listen to slow and chill music. Then I change the music to my hype gang meet up playlist to get me psyched up.”

Both athletes started jumping early in their athletic careers. With Case, she started jumping her freshman year of high school. She credits her brother for his motivation as he pushed her to become better and helped prolong her passion for jumping. Her brother jumped for their high school team for two years. Also, the head coach of the track team knew that she was a gymnast, so he had faith that her athleticism could help her succeed in another sport.

For Meredith, his jumping career started in sixth grade. However, he and jumping have come a long way. “I was honestly not the very best at long jumping, however, it was that event that I enjoyed the most,” Meredith said. “I am glad that I stuck with it.”

Manchester’s next competition will take place at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on March 7 at 10 a.m.