Small schools sometime get overlooked, especially in athletics.
But one of those small schools, Bloom-Vernon, is not getting overlooked this year in junior high track. They have something pretty special going on in the high jump.
Four eighth graders from Bloom-Vernon Junior High track teams have qualified to compete in the State Junior High Meet Saturday in Lancaster. But the two girls and two boys didn’t just qualify for the top meet. All four of them qualified in the high jump. The girls are Bri Claxon and Faith Maloney, and the boys are Brady Blizzard and Trae Zimmerman.
Maloney says she wants to go, and she will be practicing a lot before Saturday.
Claxon says, “I feel good and I’m excited to, like, be the top in the state. You have to go to invitationals and you have to jump good at the invitationals. They take your highest jump there, and then whoever has the top jumps, qualifies to compete in the State meet.”
Maloney and Claxon are not just teammates, but best friends, and they both say that is pretty cool. They both have the same best jump, which is 4’10”, and both will be competing to beat that personal best … and each other.
Blizzard says he’s excited about going, “I’m practicing every day until then.”
Zimmerman says, “I’m going to try to beat Brady.” He says they both have the same highest jump at 5’6”, and that is why Zimmerman wants to beat him. Both he and Blizzard are good friends, also.
The boys junior high coach is Jeremy Newman, and his wife, Lori, coaches the junior high girls. Newman says he has been coaching at Bloom-Vernon for three years as the boys coach. “I’m ecstatic about the kids going. They are invited because they are among the top 16 in their event in the whole state of Ohio, which is high jump. How it works is that every time they got to an invitational, their scores go into a computer to a database, and they compile a list. Sometimes anywhere from 700 to 1,200 kids’ marks all throughout the state of Ohio, and little ol’ South Webster is lucky enough to have four of the top high jumpers out of the top 32 in the state of Ohio.”
Newman says in determining who qualifies for the state meet, there’s a leader board where the athletes and coaches can see where they stand in their events. “We thought Bri and Faith were in, but Brady and Trae earned their way at the very last meet of the year, last Thursday. They were not in until Thursday. We’re pretty excited. We plan on putting up like a leader board up on the track with all the kids who have gone to the state meet. We have five names now, so we’re pretty proud of that.”
Newman noted that no other school in the area had that many kids going to the state meet. “It couldn’t happen to better kids. They are nervous as can be.”
When speaking to Newman, it’s apparent he is excited for the four athletes. “I’m so proud of them. They’ve worked hard all year long. They’re not only good athletes, they’re good kids in academics and behavior, in every phase. They’re great!” He says usually the kids’ parents take them, but if not, he and his wife will take them up to Lancaster.
“We have an end-of-the-year cookout, and these four get a special treat. They each get steak. I grill them a steak dinner, and my wife is making a peanut butter pie. Everybody else is getting burgers and hot dogs,” Newman says humorously.
“This is our fifth athlete to make it to the state. Last year, Emma Bailey went in both shot put and discus. We’ve had five kids in two years since they started last year.” Junior high track just started having a state meet last year.
Newman is a high school math teacher at Bloom-Vernon in the junior high, and Lori teaches at the elementary school.
Bloom-Vernon seems to have people who care and spend many hours of their time — like the Newmans — to make sure students have every opportunity available to them. Lots of luck to these four junior high Jeeps.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928