Published: April 4, 2014
Just a few weeks ago, Mesa Ridge junior Kahlil James recorded his first victory when he leaped to the long-jump title at the Centennial Invite at Pueblo's Dutch Clark Stadium.
Then on Friday, at the Sand Creek Scorpion Invitational at Vista Ridge, another Grizzlies jumper, senior Matt Atkins, took flight in the high jump, taking top honors for the second time this year.
In all three jumping events, purple and black seemed to rule the day.
"I don't know what's going on, but everyone is just catching this bug to want to jump," said Atkins, a key player on the school's basketball resurgence this season. "We all show up at practice and compete with each other, pushing each other to be better."
In addition to James and Atkins, juniors Bryan Bedo and McKay Pelsue give Mesa Ridge quite the foursome in hopes of cornering the market by leaps and bounds.
"We've always had good jumpers," longtime Grizzlies coach Carl Burgess said. "But this year, these guys have really been pushing each other. They really cover the long, triple and high jump, and they work hard."
Atkins recorded a jump of 6 feet, 3 inches, good enough to win Friday, but not quite good enough to feel completely satisfied.
"I'm just a little bummed that I didn't PR (personal record)," said Atkins, a triple-jump qualifier at last years' Class 4A state meet. "A win is a win, and I'll take 6-3, but I wanted 6-4. Jumping is my thing."
And the first few meets of the season have taken place in mostly blustery conditions.
Burgess can't wait to see what efforts take place once things heat up outside.
"As the weather gets better, they'll continue to get fired up. They have big goals, and they all feed off each other."