Boys Track: Oak Park-River Forest’s Carl Heinz ties national-best high jump markDarien 4/7/12-- | Oak Park-River Forest's Carl Heinz, easily clearing the bar during the high jump at the Hornet Relays at Hinsdale South. Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun Times Media
Updated: April 7, 2012 8:24PM
Carl Heinz loves jumping in Darien.
Heinz returned to the scene of his personal-record mark in the high jump Saturday at the Hornet Relays at Hinsdale South. This time, the defending Class 3A state champion from Oak Park-River Forest went even higher.
Heinz cleared 7-foot-1 on his third attempt to tie the current national leader in the high jump for outdoor competition in 2012. Heinz and fellow senior Allex Austin of San Marcos, Texas, are the only high school athletes to clear 7-1 this season, according to Dyestat.com. Austin jumped 7-1 at the Texas Southern Relays on March 17.
Four athletes from warm weather states in Texas, Mississippi and Georgia have cleared 7-0 to rank behind Heinz and Austin nationally.
“The whole day was perfect; the sun and the wind,” Heinz said. “I love [jumping] outside.”
The Duke-bound Heinz smashed the current state-best mark of 6-9 for an outdoor high jump, which was held by Downstate Waterloo’s Justin Kretchmer and is tied for 19th nationally. He set that standard April 3 at the Highland Relays.
As Heinz started jumping higher and higher, he whipped the crowd with anticipation by starting a rhythmic clap above his head as he prepared for his approach. Heinz started each approach so far away from the high jump pit that he often extended into the running track and had to wait for runners to go by before the track was cleared enough for him to make an attempt.
Heinz’s previous outdoor P.R. of 7-0 was set last year at the Hornet Relays. Heinz won the Class 3A state meet last year with a 6-10 jump, but still has a way to go before catching Tom Smith’s state record of 7-5 1/4 for Heyworth in 1985. With Saturday’s jump, Heinz became just the 15th high school boys athlete to jump higher than 7-feet in state history. He became the highest jumper for a West Suburban Conference school, topping Dan Williams’ 7-0 from Proviso West in 1982.
“It feels good coming back for the second year in a row and jumping 7-feet at this meet,” Heinz said. “This was my first meet outdoors since last year. It shows that Illinois Prep Top Times [means] nothing.”
Heinz was coming off a second-place finish at the unofficial indoor state meet March 24 in Bloomington. Lake Park’s Kevin Spejcher (6-10) beat Heinz (6-9) for the Prep Top Times Class 3A title at Illinois Wesleyan. The loss provided a little motivation for Heinz, who had not lost to Spejcher since his sophomore year.
“He said, ‘How about you give me one [title]?” Heinz said, referring to a comment by Spejcher at Prep Top Times.
Heinz is attempting to become the first OPRF repeat state champion in the high jump. The school’s only other state champion in the event since 1952 is John Steele in 1980. OPRF’s four other previous state champions did not use the Fosbury Flop.
OPRF (130 points) won nine of 19 events at the Hornet Relays to easily beat three-time defending meet champion Lyons (89). Heinz led the three OPRF high jumpers to victory with a 19-1 total to fall short of last year’s record set by the Huskies in 19-6. Heinz’s partners were Jacovi Welsh and Harrison Gay.
The Huskies ended a run of three straight runner-up finishes to Lyons. OPRF won the meet for the first time after taking first in the West Suburban Silver indoor meet March 16.