Owls' Knights putting distance between himself, rival jumpers

April 26, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Speed, power, technique. Those, Matt Knights says, are the ingredients for a successful jump.

The Westminster junior says he can tell as he is running down the runway if he'll have a good jump -- whether it be the triple or long jump.

"I enjoy the more competitive meets when someone's there pushing me," Knights said. "The adrenalin starts pumping and I know I have something to push for."

He's been tested little this season, going unbeaten in both events and reaching milestones along the way. The triple jump is his favorite, and his first goal, as a freshman, was to break Dave Ripley's 1976 school record. Knights did it this season with a jump of 46 feet, 9 1/2 inches at a meet at Shippensburg (Pa.) University -- by four inches.

"It was a wonderful feeling," Knights said.

"I knew that day I could break it. It was a goal I had coming in as a freshman. Now I want to jump 50 feet."

Knights won the county championship in the triple last season with a jump of 43-10. He jumped 44-11 1/2 at the state meet to finish third last year.

"As a freshman, he wasn't quite jumping at the varsity level, but last year he really took charge," said Westminster coach Bill Hill.

"It started when he won the county championship and then took third at states. He came up to me and said, 'Hey coach, I can stay with these big guys.' "

This year, Knights is the man. He has six inches on the next best jumper in the state, and his 46-9 1/2 jump is 6 1/2 inches longer than the jump that won last year's state meet.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable," Knights said.

"I worked really hard during the off-season, lifting every day, running distance on Sundays and getting in sprint work. It's really paid off."

Knights got into track and field in the sixth grade, when he joined the recreation program, Fleet Feet. After trying soccer, football, wrestling and baseball at one time or another, it didn't take him long to settle on track and field.

"I just always liked to run, and jumping kind of came with it," Knights said.

"I like the competition, the individual aspect to go along with the team points. It's basically sink or swim by yourself. But also when a teammate does a good job, it brings everybody else up."

Hill says it's the dedication Knights has in jumping that has taken him to the next level.

"He's a true dedicated athlete and wants to be accomplished," Hill said. "He's running cross country, lifting weights, reading books and doing whatever it takes to improve. He'll call me at night right after practice I ask, 'What do you think about this?' or 'What do you think about that?'

"He's really become an expert on technique and it's enabled us to coach him at a higher level. He's starting to get rewards for all the hard work he's put in in the past year and a half."

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