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St. Paul grad Fritz ranked fifth entering Div. III championships

By DON HOHLER • Updated Feb 27, 2019 at 8:18 PM

ADA — Wes Fritz continues to amaze all who watch the Heidelberg senior at work in the high jump area.

And it was no different this last weekend at Ohio Northern University in the OAC Indoor Track and Field championships when he left the rest of the field in his wake when the bar reached 6-feet-4. Alone on the runway, he worked his way to 6-feet-7 before missing three times at 6-8 ¾.

“That is a height I usually make, but not being pressured to keep going up can be a negative,” said Fritz, a 2015 St. Paul graduate.

Ranked No. 5 in III in the nation in NCAA Division III, the son of Chuck and Sue Fritz stayed on campus in Tiffin this week working on “the little things” that could be the difference on March 8-9 at Div. III national championships held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

The country’s top 20 high jumpers will compete in a winner-take-all single round starting at 6 p.m. March 8.

“I call this my comeback season because last year I did not qualify for the nationals in indoor or outdoor,” Fritz said. “My first goal this year as a senior was to make the NCAA Indoor finals, and I accomplished that goal over the weekend. The next goal is to be in the top eight on the podium for All-American honors.

“Better yet, I’d like to win the event,” he added. “There is no reason I can not pop off a big mark and win the whole thing There is little separation in jumpers from top to bottom next Friday night.”

The best height is 6-10 ¾. Fritz has a personal best of 6-9 ½.

“What I need most of all is a quick growth spurt,” Fritz joked. “Five or six inches would be perfect because there are so many things on the approach that can go wrong when you are as short as I am. I have to look up at the bar on my approach, and that means I have to be perfect as far as my speed toward the exact area of lift. I have just an instant to find the bar, and hopefully I am in the perfect spot to explode on the lift.”

Fritz said the perfect height for a high jumper is 6-6.

“If I was 6-6, my hips would be eight inches higher than they are now. That would be huge,” he said. “But, I just have to make do with what I bring. I close on my competition by spending more time in the weight room. Also, I have a stretching and flexibility program that helps me in safely clearing the bar.

“I constantly work on my runway speed and keeping my lean away from the bar when I lift,” Fritz added. “For me, everything on the approach has to be technically perfect. Thankfully, I have coaches, one of them an Olympic jumper, who watches my every move.”

Secretly, Fritz is happy to be done at the long long jump pit. He had to split time over the weekend in the two events. His first jump of 21-2 ¾ held up for sixth overall and a spot on the podium for Heidelberg.

“Friday night will be my last jump ever, indoors,” he said. “That is unless I would hit some kind of crazy height like 7-1. That probably would get be some invites.

“Otherwise, we start the outdoor season the following week in Myrtle Beach (Fla.), and that kind of weather will be a Godsend, a place everyone wants to get in a good qualifying mark prior to our coming back to a blustery-cold Ohio outdoor season. Weather is everything with high jumpers because standing around trying to keep warm is a detriment.”

But right now, Fritz is as optimistic as he has ever been.

“I have improved all of my indoor marks and I am going to the national meet the highest I have ever been ranked,” he said. “My feeling is I am not done yet.”

With his accounting and management degree in hand, Fritz will work this summer as an intern in the audit department in the Cleveland office of Ernst & Young. After that, he heads for Bowling Green State University in quest of a 10-month masters in accountancy degree.

“Hopefully, I will have proven myself well enough at Ernst & Young that they will hire me full-time,” Fritz said.

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