It is not unusual for kids to play together in a sand box.
However, Zach Crouse’s and Quincy Robinson’s sand box never had a bucket or plastic turtle. The duo still is playing in the sand, but the Licking Valley teammates will do it at the Division II state meet Friday.
“It wasn’t much of an idea going to the state meet for long jump, but my mom and I were going through old pictures,” Crouse said. “There was a picture of us at the Junior Olympics here where we got second and third in the long jump. It just shows how far we’ve come and the kind of bond we have.”
Their Valley careers end at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. They qualified for the state meet a week ago, placing second and third in the regional meet at Dayton. They compete at 9:30 a.m.
It is not the path Crouse expected to take to the state meet, but he is happy to do it with Robinson. Crouse assumed he would qualify in the pole vault. However, he fell short in that event but had the long jump instead, jumping a personal-best 22-feet-3.75.
“We all knew there was a 22-foot jump in me somewhere,” Crouse said. “It just finally came on the right day, I guess.”
As it often seems for Crouse in the long jump, Robinson always does a little better. Robinson delivered a school-record jump of 23-3, ensuring the heartbreak of a fifth-place finish in 2012 would not repeat.
“This just shows how close we are as friends and as a whole track team,” said Robinson, who also will have teammate Neil Bailey competing in the discus and shot put this weekend. “Our teammates were there supporting us while we were jumping at regionals.”
Robinson came close to 23 feet in winning the Licking County Honor Roll meet in May. Since, he and coach Matt Sorg have experimented with a longer approach during the postseason.
Robinson went to it during the district final, and it paid off in a jump of 22-1.75. He added a foot to that mark.
“I went from an eight-step approach to a nine-step, which put me back about 25 feet,” Robinson said. “I got a little bit more speed on my run. At districts, it was a little windy, so I didn’t want to try it. On my last jump, I did it because I was so far ahead of everyone.”
Dayton Chaminade-Julienne’s Antwon Persons, who beat the Valley duo, was the only Division II competitor to jump farther across the state. Only a third jumper was better than Crouse.
On Tuesday, Crouse and Robinson were standing around before practice unsure of what they were going to do. Because of Crouse’s pole vaulting and Robinson’s running — he just missed qualifying in the 400 — they rarely have actually practiced long jump this season.
Crouse suggested maybe they could take the week off. Do not fix what is not broken.
“I did make that comment (Monday),” Crouse said.
Sorg was not in agreement. At least it gives the friends more time to play in the sand.