Jumping into Big Ten contention

BY JORDAN HANSEN | MAY 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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After clearing 2.20 meters and winning the Musco Twilight meet high jump, sophomore Kevin Spejcher bounced off the mat, his shaggy brown hair flying and let out a noise that can only be described as “victorious.”

His outpouring of emotion was the perfect moment to cap off a contest that catapulted him to second in the Big Ten and in a tie for 16th in the nation.

Even more impressive is that his sudden breakout came just a year after a season in which he finished a meager 15th at last season’s Big Ten meet.

“Being up there really means a lot to me — last year I came in not being able to make NCAAs, and it’s kind of nice being up there,” Spejcher said. “It’s good to see that I’m finally showing, and I’m up there with everyone else.”

It helps that the sophomore has had a chance to learn second-year assistant coach Molly Jones’ system. Spejcher was not one of her recruits and like many new coaches, it takes a year or so to implement a new system.

“My whole training is a little bit different from last year, and now, I’ve kind of come in with a different mindset,” Spejcher said. “I’m not trying to learn what it’s like to compete in the Big Ten; it’s go out there and do something now.”

Of the changes that Jones has worked into his routine, an emphasis on running workouts and several off-days have allowed him to relax. The modifications have worked better than expected, though this certainly could be because the workouts are basically tailored for him.

Spejcher happens to be the only male jumper on the team and spends his workouts with one of his counterparts on the women’s team — junior Khanishah Williams. It is a fairly rare occurrence to have a training partner of the opposite sex, but it has worked to perfection for both athletes.

“Him being a boy, he jumps higher than me, so when we are high jumping, I tend to try to keep the bar as high as I can get it to him,” Williams said. “He’s really focused, but at the same time, he’ll make a joke with a serious face.

“He’s become an inspiration to me.”

She certainly is not the only one that he has inspired and dazzled, which was obvious from the number of teammates surrounding him after Musco.

However, the most impressed person of all might just be his coach.       

“You always think athletes have it in them to do incredible things, but you never know for sure until it actually happens,” Jones said. “It’s fun to be able to work with someone who has this level of talent and actually kind of realized it.

“I think he has more in him, but — we still have a couple meets to go, and hopefully good things continue to happen.”

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