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Sommers wins long jump at all-star track meet

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SAMMY AT STATE: Recent Oak Hill graduate Sammy Sommers prepares for one of his long jump attempts at the state finals on May 31. Sommers finished fifth in the competition to earn a spot on the Indiana All Star Team that competed at the Midwest Meet of Champions on Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan, where he was long jump champion. Sommers was the only Indiana athlete to earn an event win at the all star meet.
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ALL STAR CHAMP: 2019 Oak Hill graduate Sammy Sommers stands atop the medal stand at the Midwest Meet of Champions in East Lansing, Michigan on Saturday. Sommers turned in a long jump of better than 23-feet, 10-inches to win the event and cap his illustrious high school career.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Sammy Sommers’ last high school long jump was memorable indeed.

The Oak Hill track and field standout turned in a leap of 23 feet, 10 1/2 inches Saturday in the Midwest Meet of Champions at Michigan State University, East Lansing, and won the event in his high school swan song. Sommers was the only winner from Indiana in the tri-state meet with Ohio and Michigan.

Sommers also placed fourth in the 300 hurdles in 39.48 seconds and earned a second medal in the champions meet reserved for top senior athletes. His long jump equaled the all-time Grant County standard first set in 1973 by Mike Smith of Marion.

“There were three of us tied at 23-4 going into the last jump ... and I got my PR by a half inch,” Sommers said Monday afternoon. “Right before that, ‘JB’ (Jim Brunner) was talking to me about missing the county all-time record by half an inch at regional.

“... I was a little behind the board, no reason for it,” he continued. “So this time I’m psyched out like I usually do and going to my original mark ... you can’t doubt yourself. Consistency is a huge huge key and in all six jumps you are making minor changes. But nothing really changed on the last and I finally hit my run through perfect and got my legs underneath me for a good jump. Praise God.”

Sommers won two medals at the IHSAA state finals May 31 with a fifth in the long jump and seventh in the 110 hurdles to earn a spot in the all-star meet. In the long jump, Sommers turned in a 22-6 1/2 where eight days earlier he set the school record of 23-10 in the Marion Regional.

The 23-10 1/2 long jump Summers turned in at the Midwest Meet of Champions would have been good for second place at the IHSAA state finals. It was the best jump in the Midwest Meet since 2011 and third best over the past 20 years.

“It’s kind of poetic for him to go to (the Midwest Meet) and jump 23-10 1/2 after he did not jump as well at state,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said. “He was somewhat disappointed, and to go compete another  weekend and on his very last jump in high school pops a PR and is good enough to win a meet with the best high school seniors from Ohio and Michigan is an awesome way to go out.”

Sommers is the third Oak Hill athlete to win an event at the Midwest Meet of Champions, joining the brother-sister duo of Michael Moffitt (2012) and Janae Moffitt (2015), both high jumpers. Alec Samuels in 2012 and Margo Hornocker last year also represented Oak Hill in the meet.

In the hurdles race, Sommers improved five positions from his seed time and earned a place on the podium. He was just one second off his all-time best of 39.34.

“We looked at some of the other guys and I was seeded last coming in,” Sommers said. “But you have to do it on that day, whether it’s a PR or not. I’m glad that I was able to stay consistent.

“You can’t expect to be your best every meet,” he added, “But you do want to give it your all, and for me if it’s in God’s will for me to PR I’m down with that. If not, I try to learn from that and get the best out of me in every meet.”

Brunner was excited to see Sommers end his standout career at Oak Hill where he became the all-time leading point getter with a championship performance.

“Of all the high school all-star competitions, only a handful to do it against the best from other states,” Brunner said. “All of our athletes have enjoyed the experience and it’s a good way to end your career, and a fun meet. Sammy had multiple opportunities to compete in the hurdles and long jump and he took advantage of it with two medals.”

In the fall, Sommers heads off to Taylor University to begin his collegiate track career, but first he will compete in a state USTFA state qualifier this weekend at Ball State University, Muncie. He hopes to advance to the national meet later this summer in Sacramento, California.