Overweg ready for Hershey's finals; Mitchell 14-year-old having success in first season of trackWhen Reed Overweg heard about the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, he decided to give them a try. That turned out to be a good decision. At a local meet, he leapt within one inch of last year’s North American finals mark in the standing long jump.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
When Reed Overweg heard about the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, he decided to give them a try.
That turned out to be a good decision. At a local meet, he leapt within one inch of last year’s North American finals mark in the standing long jump.
“I just figured out about it this year,” Overweg said. “It would have been real interesting to go some more years and see how much I could have accomplished.”
Overweg, a student at Mitchell Middle School, will compete in the standing long jump at the North American finals meet, which runs Thursday through Sunday in Hershey, Pa.
The 14-year-old is competing in his first year of track and field and said he had success in the long jump in middle school track. That form of long jump, with a run-up before the jump, is not an option in the Hershey’s meets.
“I broke the record in middle school for the long jump,” Overweg said. “I liked it, so I thought I might as well try the standing long jump, since it’s around the same concept.”
Justin Zajic, one of Overweg’s coaches on the middle school track team, said Overweg broke at least three records during the track season and stood out during competitions.
“We had him doing everything from long jump to high jump,” Zajic said. “He did hurdles, sprints. Wherever we had him, he did good at it.”
Overweg’s jump of 18 feet, 1 inch set the Mitchell Middle School long jump record. At the local Hershey’s meet, he jumped 9 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump for first place.
That mark qualified Overweg for the state Hershey’s meet. He also qualified in the 800-meter run and on a 400-meter relay team, but two members of the relay team could not make the meet and Overweg decided to focus on the standing long jump, since athletes are only able to qualify for one event at the North American meet.
Overweg said he chose the standing long jump as his main focus when he did some research and noticed that last’s year North American champion had a jump of 9-feet-4.
“I realized I was one inch away compared to 20 to 30 seconds away in the 800,” he said.
Zajic said when Overweg sets his mind to something, he puts everything he has into it.
“His work ethic definitely stands out,” Zajic said. “Once he found his niche, be it long jump for example, he worked with the coaches after practice to get even better. He understood that if he didn’t work at it, he wasn’t going to get better.”
Overweg, who had a leap of 9-feet-1 in the standing long jump at the state meet, said his goal at the North American meet, which he competes in Saturday, is to hit at least 9-feet-5.
Training for the event has been difficult for Overweg, as most track and field coaches do not train athletes for the standing long jump.
“When you do the running long jump your body carries a lot more,” Overweg said. “When you do standing long jump, you want to go back and run but obviously you have to stay in one spot.”
Overweg said he and his father, Lyndon, have had to research methods online to figure out how to better his technique.
Lyndon Overweg helps by videotaping Reed’s jumps. The two have studied to see which angles of the jump and other minor details have been the most successful.
In the event, athletes must have their feet together and can’t take a step back before leaping. Reed Overweg said he tries to touch his toes with his hands to help get more distance and prevent him from falling backward on his landing.
“You’ve got to get it perfect,” Overweg said. “With a running long jump, your speed can carry you, but with the standing long jump, your legs and arms have to carry you.”
Overweg admits that at times his legs have gotten tired, with training for the Hershey’s meet while still playing for the Mitchell Black teener baseball team, but he said the summer has been fun and he wishes he would have participated in the Hershey’s track meets in the past. The meets are billed as the largest youth sports program of their kind in North America, with hundreds of thousands of children competing every year for a chance to be among the 480 athletes who qualify to compete at the North American Final.
Zajic said he expects Overweg to continue to be one of the top track athletes in the area.
“I had a whole team of really good athletes, and Reed really did stand out,” Zajic said. “With the mentality that Reed has, he’s not going to plateau. He’s going to keep building.”