The high jump takes pure athleticism, speed and finesse.
The two events couldn’t me more opposite and finding someone who does both is like finding gold at the end of a rainbow; it just doesn’t happen.
Unless you are Willard senior Nick Cofer. The insanely athletic Cofer is that gold and a regional qualifier in both the shot put and the high jump. How rare is it? After hours of research and help from the Twittersphere, no one could come up with a name of an athlete who advanced to state in both events. Cofer has a shot.
“It is weird,” Cofer said. “I don’t know why, but I am able to just make that switch in my mind. In both events, I have to be aggressive, and I like that because I am a more aggressive athlete. In the shot, it is a lot about footwork and strength while in the high jump, I have to be more relaxed and just go. I think the key is just switching that mindset back and forth.”
Cofer has the chance to join some of the rarest of rare company as a state qualifier in two events that no one single athlete should be able to do. He sits tied for fifth in the seed marks in the Division III Tiffin Regional meet at 6-feet. He sits eighth in the seed marks for the shot put with a 51-07.50. He needs a Top 4 finish in both events to make the trip to Columbus.
“There was a kid from Ontario some years back who went to Akron to throw,” Willard coach John Buss said. “But it is very, very rare and Nick has been able to compete at a high level all year long. There are some great numbers in the shot in Division III. Division III has better numbers than Division II. I think if we were still in Division II, he shows up and he makes it. It will be a challenge in Division III.”
Cofer has been doing it all year long. Every meet, he checks in for the shot, check out and heads to the high jump, checks out of the high jump and runs the 4x100 then circles back around to the shot and finishes up before heading back to the high jump in enough time to clear six feet and call it a day.
But the busy day doesn’t come without its fair share of problems.
“It is hard because at Mt. Gilead, I was right in the middle of high jumping, I had to check out of high jump and go run the 4x100 and as soon as I got done with the 4x100 they were already done with the shot and were just waiting on me,” Cofer said. “So I went over to the shot, threw all of my warmups and all of my throws at one time, then went back and finished the high jump.”
A couple of weeks ago, Cofer took home the final Northern Ohio League title in the shot put etching his name in the history books. He took third in the high jump, but before all of that, Buss knew he had something special in Cofer when he won the NOL title in both events as an eighth grader. The rest is history and Cofer is now on the cusp of making history in a way not many, if any, other athletes have.
“He has just stuck through a lot of tough athletic seasons,” Buss said. “A lot of athletes wouldn’t have done what he did and stuck with it regardless of the outcome of the season. It would be very nice to see him especially end his high school athletic career in Columbus. It would be a very nice reward for a very great kid.”
Though the feat is unheard of on many standards, Cofer just feels like it is not a big deal.
“I feel like it is normal,” Cofer said. “This is just the events I do so I am used to doing them both even though it is out of the ordinary. I don’t really see it as a one-of-a-kind thing. I just go out there and try to do my best in both events.”
Cofer enters the Division III regional meet on Friday with a very tough situation at hand. The boys high jump and shot put are slated to begin at the same time. The coach and athlete have a plan. They are hoping to be able to go through shot warm ups, throw his first official shot, let three shot putter get their chance, then throw his second before allowing three more to go and then throwing his third. All before heading over to the high jump area. Cofer is aiming for a personal record in both and cementing his name among an unknown group of athletes.
“I think he is going to come out and do great,” Buss said. “He is a great athlete. We debated on pulling him out of the high jump and have him just focus on shot, but the numbers are so tight there that we can’t. If he controls his misses, he will get out. We are upset that both events are at the same time, but that just means it is incredibly rare.”
With all of his hard working paying off, Cofer is just hoping to end his career on top.
“I just think I am blessed to have some special abilities,” Cofer said. “I just go out and give my all and whatever happens. The toughest part is keeping that positive mindset. I hit a rut in high jump and had a tough time clearing 5-10. Then I had a tough time getting over 47-feet in the shot. I just stayed the course, but it was a very tough challenge.”
Buss believes Cofer has what it takes.
“I really enjoy coaching him,” Buss said. “He is just a great kid and he is really in a zone right now. Something just clicked with him the last couple of weeks and he is performing at a very high level in both events. Our school record is 57-8. I think he is going to need a 55 or 54 to get out and who knows with another week of work, maybe he is right there at the school record at state. He would be a Top 4 thrower. Our goal is to get down there and place. We don’t want to be happy with just being there. I want him to end his career on the podium at the Jesse O.”