Hubbard’s Southern in final try for state meet

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Hubbard senior Jared Southern clears the high jump bar Saturday at the Division II district meet at Lakeview.

CORTLAND — Jared Southern has one focus, get to the state track and field meet.

The Hubbard senior hasn’t felt the occasional breeze blow in from the northwest inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The feeling of hearing his named called among the finalists as he makes one attempt after another.

Getting there is the hard part.

Saturday, jumping 6-feet, 2 1/4-inches set a new Division II Lakeview District record and moved the Hubbard senior on to this week’s Austintown Regional.

He cleared 5-10 and placed 11th in the regional his sophomore year, while tied for sixth after going 6-1 his junior campaign.

It’s the top four which make it to state.

“This meet is just part of the steps to get to the main goal,” Southern said Saturday. “Since I’ve been a freshman, I’ve wanted to go to Columbus. That’s all I’ve every wanted to do in track, be with the best of the best here. It feels good to do good here, but I know I have to do more.”

He qualified for the regional in the high jump and 200- and 400-meter dashes.

Southern struggled a couple of weeks ago, losing out to Lordstown’s Greg Romain for the Trumbull County high jump title. The Hubbard senior was struggling with a pulled muscle in his right leg, stemming from a long jump at Lakeview during a cold April meet.

Hubbard boys coach Don Gosney said he asks about Southern’s leg every day, but always gets that it feels good. Maybe some tightness.

“We’re giving him the necessary time to recover from it, focusing on the end result, which is the state track meet,” Gosney said. “He looks strong. It doesn’t look like it’s hampering him at all.”

That’s pretty much healed and now it’s about form.

“I’m kicking way too early, and I’m not holding my high point, I guess,” Southern said.

It’s also about finding solitude and mental strength.

Southern has reached 6-6, that’s where he’ll need to go if he reaches state and wants to be in contention for a medal. Landing 6-4 should get him to Columbus, but it needs to happen this Saturday at Austintown.

Gosney said Southern needs to seclude himself from the rest of the competitors, even though he likes to talk to them, and focus on the task at hand.

“That’s why I’ve been on him,” Gosney said. “He’s been complacent with 6-2. You need to get past it, which we were hoping for, but just didn’t happen. Really it’s a mind thing now, mind and form.

“… I don’t have a secret formula. If I did, he’d be there. I tell him every day, you are your own worst enemy.”

Southern is well aware of the importance of this meet. He plans not to disappoint, even in his other events. He is one of two 400 runners to break 50 seconds at district. He will need to run a second or so faster in the 200 to make Saturday’s finals. The preliminary races and some other field finals start Thursday.

“It comes to do or die, especially being a senior,” he said. “You try a lot harder. You want it a lot more, I guess. I want to keep going with everything.”