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Sports >  High school sports

District track and field preview: Central Valley’s AJ McGloflin has sights set on 7 feet, breaking records

UPDATED: Wed., May 18, 2022

Central Valley’s AJ McGloflin has cleared 6 feet, 10 inches in the high jump this season and has a goal to reach 7 feet or beyond.  (Keenan Gray/The Spokesman-Review)
Central Valley’s AJ McGloflin has cleared 6 feet, 10 inches in the high jump this season and has a goal to reach 7 feet or beyond. (Keenan Gray/The Spokesman-Review)
By Keenan Gray The Spokesman-Review

There’s a type of swagger that Central Valley senior AJ McGloflin carries with him when he high jumps – confidence.

Some might call it cockiness, but when you truly have the confidence that you can do something, like McGloflin does, you really start to experience success in ways you’ve never imagined, and it all starts by believing.

McGloflin turned out for track his junior season after one of his coaches noticed his ability to jump on the basketball court.

“The track coach saw me dunking the basketball after school and he said, ‘You need to come high jump for me,’ ” McGloflin said. “I was kind of always iffy about track and I didn’t know about it.”

While he was hesitant at first, he decided to give it a shot. It had been a few years since the last time he participated in the sport – in middle school days when he primarily just long jumped.

Needless to say, it was the right decision.

In last year’s shortened six-week season, McGlofin came away with three wins in the high jump in the four meets in which he competed, including a win at the GSL’s culminating championship, jumping a personal best 6 feet, 4 inches to beat out Ferris’ Cole Omlin, who ranked second in the state that season.

Coming out of that meet, the potential for more was there, and CV head coach Chuck Bowden noticed it right away.

“The real interesting thing was with the season last year not really being a real season, it was right toward the end where I think the light bulb just turned on,” Bowden said. “When he jumped 6-4, I think he finished thinking that he hadn’t tapped into his ability. He walked out of the season firmly believing that he could chase 7 feet.”

Under the guidance of CV’s long-time high jump coach Alan Wadsworth, it didn’t take long for McGloflin to start off on the right foot when he opened up his senior season on his home turf in the CV Invitational.

Just like last year’s final meet, McGloflin came out with a win, but he jumped 5 inches higher, going over 6-9.

The journey to 7 feet was starting to become a reality.

“We talked about how he should realistically look at jumping 7-2,” Bowden said.

“I think it was an example of somebody who built the momentum from that short season the year before and just committed to it.”

After his first meet in March, the weather in April for high jumping was not ideal and McGloflin struggled to reach his mark of 6-9.

Even through the snow, rain and windy weather, McGloflin managed to keep winning competitions and kept his confidence up with an undefeated record heading into the final month of the season.

The last meet of the GSL regular season rolled around on the final day of April. It was again pouring down rain, but something about that day was different for McGloflin.

“I was really just warmed up that day,” McGloflin said. “I had long jump before, so I was already feeling good and came in springy.”

McGlofin cleared his first attempt without a problem. Then he cleared another height, and two others, and an attempt at 6-10 was calling his name.

“As that competition got going, you could see that confidence in him take over,” Bowden said. “At one point, I remember hearing the comment being made, ‘This could be Tacoma,’ and so it was interesting that in his head, he wasn’t complaining about the weather.”

With all that confidence building on his final run up, McGloflin cleared 6-10 and won the competition by over a foot. The chase for 7 feet was back.

Last weekend at the district qualifying meet, McGloflin attempted 6-11 and fell short of it by inches.

This week, he’ll have another opportunity at it when he competes in the District 8 4A meet at his home stadium with a state berth on the line.

“I see myself going over 4 more inches,” McGloflin said. “I’m still slowing down my last steps, so I just need to keep my speed up and go through the jump.”

The CV school record stands at 7-1, held by Brent Harkin from the 1980 season. It’s also the State 4A meet record.

“He’s appropriately confident in the sense of he just feels it,” Bowden said. “He believes he can jump 7 feet. I’ve never seen any of the 7-foot kids in our league or even in the state who could do it without thinking that.

“When you have a kid like that, you ask him, ‘Do you really believe inside?’ I think he does, and I think that’s what opens up the door for him.”

Who to watch 4A boys

Caleb Richardson, Gonzaga Prep: The recent Gonzaga University commit has proven his worth in a much-improved senior season in the distance events. With personal-best times of 4 minutes, 19.52 seconds in the 1,600 meters and 9:23.52 in the 3,200, both of Richardson’s times rank second in the GSL and are top 10 in 4A.

Evan Bruce, Lewis and Clark: Between a great cross country season and the work he put in during the winter, it’s no surprise Bruce sits atop the GSL and is a top-10 runner in 4A in the 1,600 and 3,200, running personal-best times of 4:19.08 and 9:15.23.

Rodney Minette, CV: Second-year shot putter Rodney Minette has come a long way since his fifth-place finish last spring. Nearly eclipsing a 10-foot improvement throwing a personal-best 54 feet, 8½ inches last weekend on his home turf, Minette sits in second in the state behind Bothell’s Luka Vincic by 2 inches.

4A girls

Cassidy Haddad, CV: After an undefeated junior season, Haddad continues to be ahead of her competition in the hurdles, posting personal-best marks of 15.77 in the 100 and 46.15 in the 300. She sits in the top 10 in the state for both events.

Ali Groza, LC: She picked up two GSL titles last week. The sub-11-minute performance in the 3,200 was no shocker, given she did the same last spring when she won the GSL culminating title, but the 12-second drop in the 1,600 to a personal-best 5:03.35 shows she has another burst of speed.

Audrey Thronson, LC: The GSL’s top runner in the 1,600 (5:03.21) is on the brink of breaking 5 minutes and is inching closer to the sub-11-minute range in the 3,200 after a 11:03.71 performance at last week’s district-qualifying meet for the University of Tennessee commit.

3A boys

Braxton Hinton, Cheney: Plenty of momentum heading into this week’s state-qualifying meet after running two personal-best efforts in the 100 and 200 last weekend. His 200 time of 21.96 is over one-half second faster than his previous best this season and ranks second in the state.

Ben Sonneland, Mt. Spokane: His 800 personal-best time of 1:56.21 was the fastest in the GSL this spring, and his recent 1,600 effort of 4:27.73 is ranked second in the district. Sonneland’s also a key leg for the 3A’s top 4x400 team in the state with a time of 3:24.92.

Konner Dobosh, Cheney: A first-year javelin thrower, Konner Dobosh has gone far and beyond since his first meet in March when he threw 126-11. Last weekend, he threw a personal-best 178-5 and sits sixth in the state and is only a few feet from being in the top five. Dobosh will get his chance to throw this weekend against Walla Walla’s Dash Sirmon (219-4), the country’s top javelin thrower.

3A girls

Teryn Gardner, Mead: The three-sport standout is great in sprints and distances, making her a dual threat runner for the Panthers. She ranks fifth in the state in the 800 with a personal-best 2:17.11 and is a member of Mead’s 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams, which both rank second behind Garfield.

Emily Hutchinson, Mead: One of the few athletes to have competed at state as a freshman from this senior class, she placed fourth in the shot put and 10th in the discus in 2019. The final legacy of the Hutchinson sisters ranks second in the state in shot put with a throw of 42 feet and is seventh in discus at 114-4.

Sydney Reagan, Cheney: The burst of speed Reagan displayed last weekend in the 100 was something that hasn’t been seen at all this season. It’s put her in a position to potentially qualify for state in the event. Her time of 12.55 in the 100 ranks first in the district and is eighth in the state.

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