Big Walnut High School Jumps Coach Mike Ryder doesn’t let moss grow on his key jumpers.
You can expect to see Ryder and his jumps squad during the spring track and field season, and they’re also visible during summer months training for USA Track & Field Junior Olympic events.
But what about winter months when it’s impossible to jump outdoors?
That’s never a problem for Ryder and his crew. They can be found several evenings each week training in the high school auxiliary gymnasium, getting ready for the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) indoor track and field season.
Ryder, who always has a good year during outdoor track and field season, said he especially enjoys coaching jumpers competing during winter months for indoor track meets when there’s less pressure on the jumpers, and that gives him, and the athletes, time to warm up for spring with a little bit of live competition.
And indoor track and field is not just a warm-up, Ryder added; his jumpers not only go to indoor state at Akron University every March, they go to win.
“Since the state meet inception in 2006, members of the Big Walnut Jump Squad has had 64 qualifiers to OATCCC Indoor State Championships,” Ryder said. “Out athletes have medaled and been on the podium 30 times and brought home eight state titles.”
Ryder especially noted former Big Walnut track and field standout Olivia Small, who won five indoor state titles, an all-time state record; Eugene Cannaday, with two state titles and setting the Division 1 State record in triple jump in 2009; and Tyler Fifer, a Division 1 State champion in the Triple Jump, breaking Cannaday’s triple jump state record in 2011 – a record that still stands today.
Following each regular season competition the athletes wait for numbers from around the State of Ohio. The top 16 qualifiers in each event from throughout the state at the end of the indoor season will be invited to compete at the Saturday, March 4, OATCCC Indoor State Championships held at Akron University.
As of two weeks ago, Ryder said, Big Walnut’s Kali Rammelsburg is ranked number 2 in Division 1 High Jump at 5-feet, 4.25-inches, and is also ranked number 4 in Triple Jump at 34-feet, 2-inches.
In the Boys Division, Caleb Ramey is ranked number 2 in Division 1 Triple Jump. In 2016, as a freshman, Ramey qualified for state in the triple, and placed 11th.
“I really thought this would be a rebuilding year, but after two months of training we’re sitting with at least three state qualifications,” Ryder said. “We have possibly more if we keep progressing the way we have been.
“The amazing thing is, Kali Rammelsburg and Caleb Ramey are both only sophomores, but they have already put up some dominant marks that could put them in the running for state titles,” Ryder added. “These kids have been working their tails off, and its finally paying off.”