South Xtra: Peters jumper has unusual training method

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Mike Erenberg does back flips off of buildings, front flips down flights of steps and runs up the sides of walls like he's Spiderman.

Sounds a bit crazy, right?

Well, for Erenberg, a senior at Peters Township High School, the abnormal training routine is rather customary and has played a significant role in him becoming one of the top track and field jumpers in the WPIAL.

Erenberg and a few of his buddies participate in parkour. For those unfamiliar with parkour, Erenberg can give a quick rundown.

"It's like urban gymnastics," he said. "You use what you have around you to make up flips and use your surroundings to be creative."

Erenberg goes to parks, schools, gyms and just about anywhere to do the types of flips and jumps that require the athleticism of a gymnast and the courage of a lion, as one misstep or mistimed jump could lead to a not-so-happy result.

"Some of the flips he does and jumping off the wall, I couldn't imagine trying, let alone landing them," Peters Township coach Justin Pinto said.

The son of former Steelers running back Rich Erenberg, Mike is part of a club called ClutchLine Freerunning. He got involved in the activity his sophomore year and began to really get serious about it last summer.

Erenberg said he does it to fill up most of his spare time, adding that it helps him with high, long and triple jumping.

"It builds leg strength," he said. "Most of the stuff you just do on flat ground, so you have to have powerful legs to do it. It's just the explosion that you need to do the flips that you do."

Erenberg didn't know how his senior season of track and field would go, but he certainly didn't think he would be accomplishing the feats that he has so far.

"Not at all. Not a chance," he said.

Erenberg has seen his marks in all three of the jumping events increase significantly. He set the school record in the triple jump (45 feet, 2 inches) and his career-best long jump (21-6) is just 2 inches short of the school record. His high jump of 6-4 is 3 inches shy of the school record. He ranks among the best in the WPIAL in all three events.

"He probably has some of the most natural talent for [jumping] that I've seen, and I've been around track and field for the last 16 years," Pinto said.

"Did I expect him to have this type of season? Yes and no. I knew he had loads of talent and is an incredible athlete, but he's really done some incredible things."

One of them was winning all three jumping events and being named MVP at last Saturday's Washington-Greene County Coaches Championships at Peters Township. Erenberg posted a 43-41/2 in the triple jump, 21-6 in the long jump and 6-2 in the high jump. It was the first time in his four years that Erenberg competed in the event injury free.

"To go into that meet and win all three is something that probably hasn't happened too many times in the history of the meet," Pinto said.

It's obvious that Erenberg, who was the football team's second leading receiver last fall, isn't your typical athlete. Here's another example. In March, Erenberg showcased his athleticism in a different way when he performed in the school musical, The Wiz.

Erenberg and friend Tommy Devine -- the two participate in parkour together -- played the part of flying monkeys, which required them to do flips and tumbles across the stage.

"It was a lot of fun," Erenberg said.

Erenberg's breakout senior track season might have changed his future, as he is now reconsidering where he will attend college. He said he had planned on enrolling at West Virginia University as strictly a student. He recently sent his jumping info to a few colleges, however, in hopes of being offered a track scholarship.

It would be a flip of fate for Erenberg, but for this parkour performer, it might be viewed as simply par for the course.

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