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Fritz, Stoll just miss mark in national outdoor Div. III meet

By DON HOHLER • Updated May 27, 2017 at 7:30 AM

GENEVA, OH – High jump contestants had to be nothing short of their best Friday afternoon at the Spire Institute Track & Field Complex, the site of the 2017 outdoor national Div. III meet. Among those who did not bring their ‘A-game’ was Heidelberg University sophomore Wes Fritz.

Ranked No. 12 in the country going in, the 5-foot-10 St. Paul product, went out at 6-8.75 on Friday. He cleared 6-6.75 but then despite solid efforts at the next height, nicked the bar each time. He came into the competition with a personal best of 6-9.5 and had every reason to believe he had a shot at standing on the podium. Last weekend at a “last chance” meet in Naperville, IL, he jumped 6-7.75 to win the event. As an added impetus, earlier this week for the second straight year he was named on All-OAC All-Academic Team.

Although the weather has been anything but good for high jumpers in the eastern part of the state this week, it was not that bad Friday. A light mist fell during the warmups but nothing the nation’s best Div. III leapers could not handle. And some did handle it. Four jumpers were still in with the bar set at 6-11.

“I have absolutely no clue why I did not do better,” Fritz admitted. “I felt good. If there was a negative, it was lack of commitment on every jump. You have to be committed with absolutely no negative thoughts on the approach and no hesitation as you move through the commitment area. It just wasn’t there this afternoon. Plain and simple, a bad day.”

Despite watching his athlete go out at a height he generally makes, Heidelberg jump coach Jonas Elusme has full confidence in his sophomore.

“I don’t think being just 5-10 has a lot to do with his success or failure in this event,” Elusme stated. “He has to work on what we call jumping ability and he will continue to work on that during the off season. Wes has fine form but there are some minor details that he has to work on, one of them being timing as he makes his approach. Speed is also important and that’s the reason I have him long jumping. That will increase his speed on the runway and that was a factor today.

“I 100-percent believe he will reach his goals this coming season. You have to realize he is just a sophomore. There is no quit in him. He will get there,” Elusme believed.

Fritz will take a couple weeks off and then get back into training for his junior season.

Meanwhile, another multi-versatile high school athlete, Edison’s Dan Stoll, was trying to get Heidelberg on the scoreboard with a place in the 4x400 relay.

Stoll teamed with sophomore Kenny Beucler, Bryan, senior Devaun Churchya, Fremont, and junior Jerrod Lyon, Pataskala, in the four-lap event after qualifying for the nationals two weeks ago at a last chance meet at Baldwin-Wallace.

“We finished 14th overall (in the nation) after placing seventh in our heat this afternoon (Friday). It was not our best time, right around two seconds slower than our best time of 3:14.9. It would have taken right around 3:14 to make the finals. There were a lot of teams bunched right at that number. The best was a 3:11. There were a couple of 3:12’s so it should be an interesting final.”

Stoll explained that during the indoor season, a couple of the regulars on the 4x400 team got hurt so he was asked to give the event a shot. He was coming off the football season for The Berg as a back-up running back on the Jayvee team. He was a regular in the four-lap event during the entire outdoor season.

“We were just so-so much of the season,” Stoll believed. “But, suddenly we hit our stride and took second at the OAC Meet. We got better when we started to limit the other events we worked in. Then we hit our groove at the “last chance” meet at B-W. It is quite an honor to run in a national meet even if you are not on the podium in the end.”

Stoll tried track on the advice of Fritz.

“I only did it for one year in high school (as a senior). I realize I can excel in this sport and because I want to keep improving my speed, I will not be playing football next year. I will concentrate on track, training and the classroom. I did a lot setting on the bench this past fall in football. I felt I was a better athlete than that. So, I made the decision to concentrate on a sport where I can compete on a daily basis,” Stoll stated.

Stoll showed his versatility at Edison, playing football and baseball in addition to wrestling and the one year of track.

The son of Kurt and Juli Stoll, Dan is an Education major with a 3.0 GPA.

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