That is until this year.
Willard junior Dorian Holida used his exceptional leaping ability to etch his name in the deep history books of Willard athletics. He used a leap of 21-03.75 at last week’s regional meet in Tiffin to make school history. He is also the only Willard Flashes representative at this week’s state track and field championships.
“It is really cool,” Holida said. “It means everything to me to be able to represent the school. I am excited for the opportunity to go up and jump against the best of the best while wearing Willard on my uniform. It is going to be really sweet.”
The lanky Holida found his leaping ability as a basketball player for the Flashes. His goal since picking up hoops was to dunk a basketball. Once he was able to do that with ease, he found the long jump.
“I have hops,” Holida said with a laugh. “I really can jump. I have worked on my leaping ability for a long time mainly for basketball so I can dunk. When I was finally able to dunk, I figured I would keep it going in the spring and try out long jump.”
But it didn’t start out so easy for Holida. Very early in the spring, he felt a sharp pain in his hip. It grew worse and worse until it started to affect his leaping ability.
“We shut him down for about three weeks,” Willard jump coach Kevin Garrett said. “He didn’t jump or do any workout at all during that time. He did some light jogging then came back after spring break and felt really healthy.”
It was after spring break that Holida really picked things up and started to show he was one of the best leapers in the state. In his first meet back, he set a new personal record with a 21-foot-01 jump in Mt. Gilead. He went on to take third in the Bucyrus District with a 20-09.50. He punched his ticket to the state meet with a 21-03.75 and a fourth place finish. Holida is now 100 percent healthy at the perfect time.
“I have picked up some new running routines,” Holida said. “I have some pretty insane workouts to get me prepared. I do repeat two’s and jogging miles just to get me warmed up to jump. I’ve been working on my legs a lot and it has helped me the past few weeks.”
After the injury, Garrett approached Holida about dropping some events in order to focus on the long jump. With a 25-man roster, the Flashes were taking a gamble by pulling one of its best athletes from other events and risking losing those points, but in the end it all paid off.
“As the year went on, we let him concentrate more on the long jump,” Garrett said. “He was doing some running events and the high jump so we took him out of those and let him just concentrate on the long jump. He bought into the philosophy. We didn’t care what he was jumping at the beginning of the season; we wanted him to hit his stride at this point in the season and he has.”
Holida enters as the fifth jumper in the second flight.
“There are some great athletes in this event,” Holida said. “I need to go in and make sure my technique is perfect. I have been working on kicking out when I hit the board and my speed when entering the board.”
“My expectation for state is to get a fifth or sixth place finish,” Holida said. “Placing would be very nice and I really want to pull off a new PR. I would love to get 22 feet and that would put me in pretty good position. I keep hearing the track and the long jump pitch are amazing so hopefully with a great area, maybe I can get that new PR.”
With how much progress Holida has made the past few weeks, Garrett has some very high expectations.
“Our goal has always been 22 feet,” Garrett said. “I don’t think he jumped for us as a freshman then came out last year and picked up the sport. He embraced it very well. This is his No. 1 thing and everything else was extra. He is one of the best kids we have in the building and plays multiple sports for us and has really found a home over here in the long jump.”
Holida jumps at 4 p.m. on Friday for a chance to advance to Saturday’s final.
Maybe he can make even more history as the only state placer in Willard long jump history.
He has a good habit of doing such things.