Big Walnut High School jumps coach Mike Ryder doesn’t let moss grow on his key jumpers.
You 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, the Big Walnut jump squad has had 64 qualifiers to the OATCCC Indoor State Championships,” Ryder said. “Our athletes have medaled and been on the podium 30 times and brought home eight state titles.”
Ryder pointed out former Big Walnut track and field standout Olivia Small, who won five indoor state titles, an all-time state record; Eugene Cannaday, who grabbed two state titles and set the Division I state record in the triple jump in 2009; and Tyler Fifer, a Division I state champion in the triple jump who broke 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. 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 No. 2 in the Division I high jump at 5-04.25, and is also ranked No. 4 in triple jump at 34-02.
In the boys division, Caleb Ramey is ranked No. 2 in the Division I 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 it is finally paying off.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093