Cody Lenfest appropriately summed up his first long jump during the Division I state meet.
“The first jump was incredibly awful,” Lenfest said.
Lenfest’s first jump of the state meet June 8 was just 18-feet-8 at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. He only had two jumps to regroup and advance to the final.
When coach Bob Hollen talked to Lenfest after that jump, his pupil was calm. It proved to be the right mind-set for Lenfest as he steadily improved during the day and eventually made the final.
“If the first one didn’t work, they want to panic a little bit,” Hollen said. “The immediate thing is if they foul, they want to change their steps and where they are starting. That seems like it would be an easy fix, but it never really fixes the issue.
“With Cody, we only had to make minor adjustments with his approach. He worked really hard at getting his step and cadence right so when he hit the board he knew he would be within an inch or two every time except that first jump when he was 2½ feet behind the board.”
Lenfest jumped 22-2.75 on his final preliminary jump to make the final. He then had to fight to keep his place. He twice jumped 22-5.5 before jumping 22-10.5 to set a personal best on the final jump of his career and secure a fifth-place medal.
An impressive and consistent postseason made Lenfest The Advocate’s 2013 Boys Field Athlete of the Year. The Eastern Michigan signee repeats from 2012.
“After that (first jump), I kind of just let go and was sort of enjoying the moment because it is my senior year and quite an honor to be at the state meet,” Lenfest said. “It was a pretty surreal moment. I wish I could have done better, but I am happy.”
Lenfest did not long jump much until May. Instead, he continued to add running to his repertoire. He waded into running events earlier in his career, but he dove right into the action this season.
Lenfest started running the 300 hurdles and eventually placed fifth at the state. Adding medals as a part of Granville’s 800 and 1,600 relays, he became the Blue Aces’ first boy to medal in four events at one state meet.
It helped his jumping, too. Lenfest added speed and endurance to allow him to take a final leap into the state’s elite.
“You can only jump so many times,” Hollen said. “The explosive nature of the event is hard on the joints. You don’t want to spend all of your time doing that. You want to work on drills, work on speed and steps. When you do get to the runway, you get the chance to work on fine-tuning, the little things that make jumpers better.”
Lenfest waged a battle with Licking Valley senior Quincy Robinson in back-to-back weeks. Lenfest jumped a then-best 22-9.5 to finish second to Robinson in the Licking County Honor Roll meet. Lenfest edged Robinson for the Mid-State League-Ohio Division title the next week.
After repeating as district champion, Lenfest got a measure of redemption in the regional. He placed third a year after not qualifying to state despite having the longest jump coming into the meet.
At the state, Lenfest had to be at his best as seven jumpers eclipsed 22. He battled Ohio State football signee Jalin Marshall for fifth during the event.
“I improved or stayed the same with every single jump,” Lenfest said. “Living in the moment made it a better experience and made my jumps better, too.”
Only one mark elluded Lenfest’s grasp. He never reached 23 feet, falling short of Ben Jones’ school record of 23-1.5. The mark has stood since 1986. Lenfest, however, could not be disappointed.
“I was hoping to get the record,” Lenfest said. “I have been gunning for it for a while, but it is what it is. I am happy with how I ended my season.”