Battling extreme heat and stiff competition, recent West High School graduate Ryan Roe was able to finish in 19th place in Sunday’s USA Track & Field Junior Olympics in Houston with a height of 6’2 3/4”. Brendon Rivera of Unattached South Texas Track Club took the gold medal with a height of 7’1/2”.
Roe failed three times at 6’4 3/4” and incurred four additional misses on the day. He was one of 55 jumpers competing for the national title.
“The misses at the lower jumps was the reason he came in at 19. He had a lot of misses at the lower heights,” said Roe’s coach, Gary Marion.“He did better than I expected with the conditions.”
When Roe and Marion arrived at Turner Stadium at 11 a.m. on Sunday, the temperature was already 95 degrees. By the time Roe started jumping in the middle of the afternoon, it temperature had risen to well over 100 degrees down in the shadeless high jump pit.
“It was unbearable,” Marion said. “(The heat) wears them down so much.”
In addition to heat-induced fatigue, high temperatures also caused soft asphalt and traction problems for many athletes. Roe even slipped on one of his attempts, but was able to recover and clear the jump.
Roe also had to deal with a time limit for the first time. In order to allow time for all 50 competitors to jump, jumpers had only 25 seconds to complete their jumps. The running clock only added to the enormous pressure of the event.
“That kind of put some additional pressure on them,” Marion said. “That was a new situaiton for him.”
Though Roe jumped just as high as he did when he won the Junior Olympic Regional meet in Charleston, he missed twice at both 6’3/4” and 6’2 3/4”. Roe did not have any misses at the Charleston meet.
As the bar climbed to 6’4 3/4”, Roe was nearly able to keep his day going.
“His third jump he was close. Very, very close,” Marion said. “The jumps he cleared he had a little distance to go a little higher than what he finished at.”
Though Roe did not set a personal record or make it on the podium as he hoped, he did gain some valuable experience as he begins his college career. From flying in a plane for the first time to competing in front of thousands of spectators, Roe will carry the experience with him as he continues his track career at Rio Grande University in the fall.
“It puts him in a frame of mind that he can seen what is out there, that there is stiffer competition,” Marion said. “That’s what’s good for him, the experience.”
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter