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Burning up the track (and field)

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By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

With the Roaring Fork High School track and field season rounding the backstretch and steaming toward the finish line, there are several athletes to keep an eye on – including juniors Jasper Germain and Justin Thompson.

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Germain was the 3A high-jump champ in 2016 and is undefeated in 2017, while Thompson finished sixth in the long jump in 2016 and has taken first place at several meets this year.

Germain and Thompson also compete head-to-head in the 110-meter hurdles. They usually finish first and second with Germain coming out on top, although Thompson nipped his teammate at last Saturday’s Demon Invitational in Glenwood with a time of 15.48.

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The Sopris Sun caught up with the pair during a sun-drenched practice earlier this week and started with this question: “How did you get into track and field?”

“I’d go to meets to watch my brother, I was about 8 or 9,” Thompson responded. “I’ve been doing the long jump my whole life.”

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Added German, “I’m from Fort Collins and did all sports. My dad was a cross-country runner and I started out as a distance runner. I started the high jump in seventh grade. In eighth grade I jumped 5’6″ and thought ‘this will be fun.’ By the time I moved here after my freshman year I was hooked, and by my sophomore year completely hooked.”

After the first question, the interview went free form, starting with the 110 hurdles.

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“We try to push each other,” Thompson said. “We’re both competitive kids,” Germain added, “ … but we’re definitely proud of each other.” There’s also some good natured trash talk, such as “I’ll see you at the finish line.”

Both athletes get more nervous before their 110 races than in the high jump or long jump. “In the hurdles, you only get one chance,” Thompson said. “You get six in the long jump and three in the high jump.” Germain added that as he’s readying for his mark at the starting line, he stares down all the hurdles but “ …I just look at the finish line.”

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Last year’s 3A state track and field meet results was a surprise for Germain. He came into the meet ranked 10th in the state. “I kinda pulled it out” with a jump of 6’5″. The win also told Germain “I have some potential.” Meanwhile, Thompson’s long jump of 21’11/2″ last year was his personal best.

This year, both Germain and Thompson are feeling good with their season, although “ …it feels like we’ve got a target on our back” Thompson said.

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For Germain, part of the feel good comes from a 6’7″ high jump earlier in the season, not only his own personal best but a school record as well. “I’m trying to get better,” he said. “My goal for state is 6’8″ … but I’d like to get to 6’9″ …. It’s a good goal.”

Germain jumps in the Fosbury Flop style, where he approaches the bar but clears it on his back to it, with his head facing the sky. The world record is 8’1/4″.

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For most people, the thought of anyone clearing a high-jump bar at 8′, 7′, 6’9″, or even 5’9″ seems almost superhuman.

As this interview came to a close, and Germain and Thompson climbed down from the middle school’s football stands, this reporter asked Germain about the seeming impossibility of high jumping in general, and how high he might be able to go. Thompson didn’t give him a chance to answer.

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“I want to see you jump 22 feet,” he joked. Germain laughed and gave him a playful shove as they both headed back to the track and the remainder of their workout.

Also noted

Other Roaring Fork High School tracksters to keep an eye on in the 3A Western Slope League meet in Grand Junction include: Ronald Clemente (1600 meters), Spencer Ochko (discus and shot put) and Cindy Salinas.

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Other contenders include Jazmin Contreras in 100 meters (ranked 9th in 3A), and the girls’ 4X100 relay team of Alejandra Butcher, Cindy Salinas, Gaby Santana and Jazmin Contreras (ranked 10th in 3A).

Head coach Ryan Erickson told The Sopris Sun that athletes must be ranked in the top 18 of their events at the end of the year to make the state championships, which will be held May 18-20 in Lakewood.

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Published in The Sopris Sun on April 20, 2017.