RAVENNA - Girard's Nate Bucci and Newton Falls' Ryan Buchanan have competed against each other in the high jump many times, often trading victories.
But no jump in their competitive history was as big as the one that would send one of them to the state track and field meet and send the other home.
With the fourth and final qualifying spot on the line at the May 29 Division II Ravenna Regional track and field meet, it was Bucci who claimed the final spot, defeating Buchanan in a jump off for the final spot at state.
"It was weird because it seems like every meet I've jumped with him. Sometimes he's won and sometimes I've won. Today, I ended up winning it," Bucci said.
It was not easy declaring a winner. After the final jumps, both Bucci and Buchanan were tied for fourth place, so a jump off was needed. The bar was set at 6-foot 3-inches, but both missed. The bar was lowered an inch, but with the same end result.
Then, the top three finishers - Independence's Ryan Lest, Lorain Clearview's Collin Owens and Canal Fulton Northwest's Michael Millard had to jump to determine places one through three. Lest won, with Owens taking second and Millard third.
Then it was time for another go at it between Bucci and Buchanan, but with more of the same results. Both missed at 6-2, then both cleared 6-1. The bar was then raised back to 6-2.
It was then that Bucci was able to clear the height and claim his place at last Friday and Saturday's state meet in Columbus. Results of Bucci's performance was not done prior to press time.
"I'm really excited," Bucci said. "I'm hoping I did what I did during districts (6-4) and I don't mess it up."
Though Buchanan, a sophomore, missed at the final height, he understood what was at stake during the marathon jump off.
"It was hard," Buchanan said. "Both of our legs were shot. We had competition with each other. One of us had to make it."
Bucci was glad to have a worthy, local competitor with him at the regional competition.
"It's nice to see two people from the same area jump so good," Bucci said. "He's improved so much from last year."
The Girard sophomore wants to improve on his heights in preparation for state.
"I'm hoping I can do 6-4, maybe 6-5, 6-6, if I can," he said.
However, practice is not where Bucci does his best.
"I actually do a lot worse in practice," he said. "Practice before districts, I barely cleared 5-10. Districts, I cleared 6-4. It's as weird. I guess it's the competition, I guess.
"I show up and I do better in competition."