The triple jump is not an OHSAA-sanctioned track and field event, but Upper Arlington's Ellen Sneed believed it would provide a springboard into what she hoped would be a memorable senior season.
After winning the OCC-Central Division high jump and long jump championships last year, Sneed added the triple jump to help her with distance and power. That paid off with an eighth-place finish in the event (33 feet, 9 1/2 inches) at the indoor state meet March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, where she also placed 15th (15-7 1/2) in the long jump.
Those ended up being Sneed's final competitive jumps as a Golden Bear. Five days later, the outdoor season was postponed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and then canceled April 20.
"I was excited to translate what I'd done in triple jump into the long jump for the spring, so I was really bummed that we didn't have a season. I've been training the past three years for this season and it's unfortunate that it didn't happened. It's just very upsetting," Sneed said. "Triple jump helped me a lot. You have to learn where to get your power out. You have to be forceful every time you leave the ground. Just in general, it transfers well to long jump.
"I was hoping triple jump would help me be more forceful and with my distance and I was starting to see that toward the end (of the indoor season)."
As a sophomore, Sneed was league runner-up in the high jump behind classmate and teammate Adrienne Wachtman and finished third in the long jump. Sneed saw enough potential in herself at that time to drop basketball and devote her offseasons exclusively to track.
"She worked all fall and winter to be the best she could be in the spring," said UA boys coach Bryan Ferres, who also works with some athletes on the girls team. "She works out with a personal trainer all year. She would go there every single day and get stronger and faster. She built herself up to be that elite athlete. I know she was hoping that this would be her breakout year and so was I."
Sneed was one of 11 UA athletes to qualify for the indoor state meet but was the only Bear to record a top-eight finish.
Sneed fell short of the Division I regional meet last year, fouling on all three of her attempts in the long jump. She was an alternate for the qualifying 800 relay but did not compete.
"I had tapered (for the long jump at district) and my legs were super fresh. I thought I could get some PRs, but I was going too fast, I guess, or tapered too much," Sneed said. "It was a lesson learned."
Ferres and Sneed had high hopes for the relays, which also were expected to include seniors Cassidy Baran and Abbie Sells, junior Adiah Bonham, sophomores Leah Meyer and Brooke Stauffer and freshman Clara Reynolds. Sneed expected to alternate between the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays in addition to her field events.
Sneed will attend Indiana but is unsure of her major.
"With her talents, (Sneed) could be a heptathlete in college if she wanted," Ferres said. "Whatever she did, all the girls looked up to her. She was going to be a second-year captain. She is fun to be around and the other girls love her."