INDEPENDENCE - Mathews' Wyatt Ford had a little extra motivation heading into his senior season in track and field.
The 6-foot-3 high jumper qualified for the regional meet in Navarre as a sophomore, where he didn't land a single jump, but Ford failed to get out of the district level the following year.
Thus, Ford set out to reach the regional level once again, and on Friday afternoon, he accomplished more than that, as the senior collected a district title by jumping 5 feet, 10 inches, at the Division III Independence district meet.
"I was pretty happy," Ford said. "I'm going back to regionals, which is something I've been working for all year. I didn't get to go last year, and that really disappointed me, so I had a lot of extra motivation this year to go back."
The 5-10 height he reached was nowhere his best mark this season (a 6-2 jump he recorded at the Trumbull County meet), but he didn't need to jump that high, as by the time Ford connected on a 5-8 jump, only four competitors remained.
"There was no competition," jumps coach Adam Hughes said. "He was kind of relaxed then. He jumps a little bit better when he has a little bit of pressure and knows he has to do. Today, he just didn't need to jump that (high)."
According to Mathews coach Jim Buckner, the district title was the perfect reward for an individual with a ridiculous work ethic.
To along with the regular track practices, Ford has been known to run extra afterward or head to other schools such as Howland or Liberty to work on his high-jump form because the Mathews' pit is old and "not really worth using." The three-sport athlete has an agreement with a coach at Howland to use its high-jump area and the equipment after the Tigers' practice, as long as he cleans up when he's finished.
Ford makes time for all of that despite his heavy workload in academics and outside the classroom. A three-sport athlete, he has a 3.979 GPA, has already taken classes at Youngstown State and volunteers once or twice per week at Fritsch Veterinary Clinic in Warren.
"The difference between (Ford) and that freak athlete is he has the natural ability, and then he trains," Buckner said. "He's a very hard worker. He's probably one of the hardest workers at track and field I've seen in nine years at Mathews."
On Friday, that work ethic was on display, setting the goal of qualifying for regionals in three events.
Having already qualified for regionals in the long jump on Wednesday, Ford needed just one more after winning the high jump, but he fell short in the 800-meter race, where he finished in sixth place with a 2:02.55, and the 3200, where he finished in 14th with a 10:49.52.
"It's disappointing in a way, but at the same time, I'm very happy to be going (to regionals) in two events," Ford said. "I feel very fortunate to do that. I know a lot of people don't make it at all."
Now that Ford will return to Navarre again, he's got his sights set on taking it one step further by going to Columbus. Both he and his coaches are confident that should he jump as well as he did at the county meet (6-2 in high and more than 21-0 in long jump), then Ford has a good chance of doing just that.
"If he jumps his best, he'll make it in both," Hughes said.
KRUMPE WINS THREE DISTRICT TITLES: Badger's Jennilyn Krumpe is no stranger to winning big meets.
As a sophomore, Krumpe won the Division III state championship in the 400, and while a district title doesn't have the same ring, she definitely had herself a day. The senior collected three district titles (the 400, the 200 and the long jump), and was runnerup in the 100.
"It's really cool that I got (the three district titles)," Krumpe said. "I'm really blessed to have made it this far."
The surprising one came in the long jump, where Krumpe said teammate Leah Blaney was favored to win. Yet, Krumpe's jump of 16-0.25 set the mark for the day, while Blaney placed third with a jump of 14-7.75.
Krumpe doesn't expect to beat Blaney next week in Navarre, though.
"My teammate's actually really good at long jump, so I was expecting her to win," Krumpe said. "I know that she'll get it next meet because she's amazing. It was really a shock that I won, but I'm hoping Leah gets it next week."
NOTES: Maplewood's Stephen Pop won the discus event, flinging a 151-4 Badger girls finished tied for third with Berkshire with 74 points Maplewood boys also finished third with 86 points Gilmour Academy's Brandon Phillips broke Maplewood-graduate Wyatt Hartman's district record with a 1:56.42 in the 800.