Chandler Bridges has learned what it takes to excel in the long jump.
For the senior on the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys track and field team, preparation and observation have played key roles in his success in the event.
Bridges won the long jump in 22 feet, 1/2 inch in the Dublin Classic on April 19 at Coffman, but not before making some adjustments.
"I wasn't jumping well, so I ran the preliminary for the 200 (meters) and that loosened me up," said Bridges, who also placed third in the 400 (50.78 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (22.67) in the meet. "That helped me out and it helped me get where it needed to be to win it."
Coach Todd Deisher said a slight change to Bridges' approach also contributed to his performance in the Dublin Classic.
"All long-jump pits are different, especially in the approach," Deisher said. "The middle of the (springboard) was a little soft, so Chandler started hitting from the left side of the board. He is good at picking up things like that."
Bridges, who finished ninth (20-11 1/2) in the long jump in the Division I regional meet last season, holds the program record in the event. He jumped 22-5 last season, breaking the previous mark of 21-9 set by Eric Strickland in 1992.
"Altitude is important in the long jump," Bridges said. "It can be frustrating because some days you are spot on and other days you are just a little off. You really have to trust your training from all of the repetition in practice and to learn how to handle your emotions."
Bridges is aiming to add two more program records -- the 200 and 400 -- to his resume before the end of the season. Entering the week, his best times in the events were 22.0 in the 200 and 50.7 in the 400. The record in the 200 is 21.5, set by Angelo Ross in 1998, and the record in the 400 is 50.0, set by Joe Coffey in 2004.
"I like the 200 because I love running the curves," Bridges said. "When I was young, my father (Curtis) taught me how to run the curves, holding it and not stepping on the line. Now it just comes natural."
According to Deisher, Bridges is a natural athlete on the track.
"Chandler had worked hard to get strong, but he also has great flexibility and great body awareness," Deisher said. "He comes from a great family and, even though he's not a vocal leader, he leads by example. He has that internal drive, and he's scored more than a third of our (team) points this season."
In the Gary Smith Invitational on May 3 at Thomas, Bridges was runner-up in the long jump (21-8 3/4) and placed third in both the 200 (22.3) and 400 (50.77).
"Chandler can go 19-9 (in the long jump) in the weekday meets, but he goes off on Saturdays," Deisher said. "He loves the competition and usually goes around 22 (feet) or better."
Bridges has committed to Denison where he plans to play football and compete in track. He was a defensive back for the Kilbourne football team.
"(My high school days) have all flown by so fast. It just seems like (Worthington Youth Boosters) track was just yesterday," he said. "It feels like football season just ended. I can't believe that I'm down to my last few meets. But as much as I'm going to miss it, I'm excited for the future."