North Xtra: Hampton senior a top high jumper


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Hampton senior Jake Adams can jump higher than he is tall.

Considering he stands 6 feet even, that's not too shabby.

He took third place at the Butler Invitational on April 12, clearing a height of 6 feet, 4 inches. His personal record is 6-5.

"He's probably close to 6 feet," estimated Hampton track coach Derek Brinkley. "He's not short by any means, but when you start looking at a lot of successful high jumpers, they are [usually] taller [than him]."

Brinkley said Adams' smaller frame did not affect his abilities and he described Adams as "springy."

"He plays basketball as well and had a pretty good part in [Hampton's] run," Brinkley said.

The Talbots' boys basketball team went 22-6 and made it to the second round of this year's PIAA playoffs.

"[Adams] came off the bench [for the basketball team]," Brinkley said. "He's a great competitor. I think the basketball he plays allows him to have good cross training. It really works the muscles he needs to use for the high jump."

When asked which was Adams' favorite sport -- track or basketball -- Adams said he favored track.

"You're always competing, always doing something -- the multiple events keep you involved," he said.

He enjoys playing a specific role to secure points in the multi-fronted battles -- there are 17 events at a high school meet -- of track meets.

This year, Adams has a goal to clear 6-6 in the high jump. It seems he's jumping over every object on Hampton's campus in order to reach his goal.

Adams explained that some of the jumpers' drills utilize plyo boxes. These are square, one-person exercise platforms available to Hampton jumpers in heights of 1, 2, and 3 feet. Adams must also complete drills using jump ropes held at ankle height, calf height, or knee height. For each box or rope height, the jumpers must see how many times they can clear it in 30 seconds or one minute, depending on the requirements of the coaches.

"We've been doing a lot more with hurdles," Adams added. "When we do the hurdles, we get more height involved."

What this means for Adams and the other Hampton jumpers is that three hurdles are spaced a few feet apart. During the hurdle exercise, the jumpers line up and leap all three hurdles one after the other before circling to the back of the line.

The plyometric exercises are all aimed at conditioning and increasing Adams' explosiveness, but there's one final test: the stairs at Fridley Field.

Fridley is Hampton's stadium for football, soccer and lacrosse. The impressive facility houses enough bleacher stairs to max out a Hampton jumper. Adams explained that the jumpers must weave a course up and down those bleachers, and then repeat it. On the second set of reps, Adams and the other jumpers must skip every other step.

Adams agreed that each exercise would be draining to unconditioned leg muscles.

"Bleachers were the main thing we focused on last year -- the hurdles we added this year," he said.

Adams, who will enroll at Penn State next school year and plans to major in either mechanical or chemical engineering, said he will never forget the thrill of competing at the state level.

"I got the opportunity to go to the state meet [last year] after placing third at the WPIAL meet," Adams said. "It was probably one of the most memorable things about my career ... it gave me a lot of experience moving forward about the type of competition I'll see at the state meet [this year]."

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