By CONOR NICHOLL
Chris Walden is a Bird City-Cheylin graduate and is well-known as the current Cougar athletic director and successful football coach. Walden has served in several other roles with Cheylin, including boys’ basketball coach at the junior high and high school levels.
Walden first noticed Pablo Bermudez’s jumping ability when the current sophomore was in junior high. Bermudez could easily hang on the basketball rim in seventh and eighth grade.
“A really quick jumper back then, like he could just get off the ground quick,” Walden told SIK on Tuesday night. “Like going to get a rebound, he could get a rebound, and then come down and go back up just ‘boom, boom.’ And everyone else, at that age, you have to gather yourself and get your balance and go back up, and he could just hit the ground and take off again.”
Bermudez and Logan McCarty entered the 2020 high school football season as highly anticipated freshmen for a team that eventually went undefeated and won the six-man state championship. Last spring, Bermudez triple jumped 38 feet, 8 inches at the Oakley Invitational, a quality mark for a freshman.
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Bermudez delivered 12 total touchdowns and earned all-state honorable mention honors. This spring, Bermudez has won four meets, and posted a career-best jump of 41 feet at the St. Francis meet Tuesday. The all-time Cheylin record is 41-10.5, set by Dustin Petz in 1993.
“Now his vertical jump hasn’t really improved so much now as his horizontal jumping ability,” Walden said. “And I think that comes with getting older and more muscle development and becoming faster is what’s really helped him in terms like his triple jump. His foot speed is what is making him better at triple jump now.”
Bermudez is part of an exceptional group of 1A boy triple jumpers.
The boys have several common traits. They are elite multi-sport athletes, many of them train daily on non-rubberized track facilities – and multiple boys come from schools that have very limited historical success in the triple jump. Like Bermudez, several of the top jumpers are non-seniors, a rarity for an event usually led by seniors.
The group includes Madison junior Bryson Turner, Pawnee Heights junior Alec Carlson and senior Braden Colglazier, Wetmore junior Jacob Carls and Frankfort senior Caden Dalinghaus, who broke his own school record this spring at 43-7.5. All have jumped at least 43 feet, 7 inches. All are ranked in the top-15 for all classes in Kansas, per the updated Wednesday list from track historian Carol Swenson. Turner ranks fifth at 45-4, and Carlson is eighth with 44-3.5.
Carlson, profiled by SIK in basketball season, comes from a highly impressive athletic family. His dad, Rick, was a former Utica High School and Pratt Community College standout and longtime PH track coach. In the winter, Rick labeled Alec a “naturally gifted” jumper.
Colglazier and Alec Carlson both went 6-6 in the high jump, tied for third-best in Kansas and tying a 26-year-old school mark.
Additionally, Hutchinson Central Christian senior Jack Losew has leaped 42-4, and HCC sophomore Emelio Ibarra has posted 41 feet. Losew’s jump is the best for the Cougars since at least 2016.
Plus, Little River junior duo of Rylan Konen and Braxton Lafferty, Caldwell junior Teagan Thompson and Axtell sensational freshman Brandon Schmelzle have all jumped at least 41 feet.
Cheylin rolls out a rubberized mat to work on long and triple jump and has a dirt/grass track. Cheylin high jumps on buffalo grass. Pawnee Heights has an older asphalt track with significant cracks. Central Christian has a gravel/dirt/grass surface. Frankfort’s track was under repair earlier this spring.
“Our long jump and triple jump are good, decent runways that we have,” Walden said.
Per KSHSAA archives, Cheylin has never had a boy or girl place in the triple jump at the state track meet. Madison has never had a boy place in the triple jump. Central Christian has one boy ever place in the triple jump, in 2005.
Madison’s former record was 43-11. Turner has hit 44-11 twice and posted his 45-4, Madison coach Alex McMillian confirmed to SIK on Wednesday afternoon. Turner and Hamilton’s Kelton Buettner (who practices with Madison) were the only Madison-Hamilton boys to clear 40 feet in triple jump in the last six years.
Last season at state, Turner was first in the 100, third in the 200, fifth in the long jump and fifth on the 400 relay. This spring, McMillian knew Madison wasn’t going to be as strong in the 400 relay. McMillian told Turner he needed to figure out the triple jump or run the 400. Turner quickly picked up the triple jump. McMillian told Turner that if cleared 40 feet he could jump at the Pre-State Challenge on April 7-8 at Wichita State. Turner went 40-8 at practice.
In his first week of ever doing triple jump, Turner posted 42-2.75 to best a 17-boy field at Pre-State. That included Thompson, who was second at 41-3.75. Turner posted his 45-4 at the Tim Griffin Relays on April 14.
Turner, Schmelzle and Lafferty was first team all-state football, while Bermudez and Konen were honorable mention. Carlson is two-time first/second team all-state basketball. Turner, in his first ever year triple jumping, has the school mark in the 100, long and triple jump. He is the defending 100-meter 1A state champion.
At state track last season, Dalinghaus, Carlson, Lafferty and Thompson finished 3-5-7-12, respectively. Five of the top-nine were seniors. COVID cancelled 2020 track. In ’19, the 16 state qualifiers included 10 seniors, including the top-five and six of the top-seven. 2018 featured all juniors and seniors as state qualifiers, including nine seniors.
On Saturday, Bermudez and McCarty are scheduled to compete at the Sharp Performance Combine at Kansas Wesleyan.
“Got some stud jumpers in 1A this year,” McMillian said.
This spring, Bermudez has won the triple jump at all four events: Greeley County on March 29, Quinter Quad on April 1, Atwood-Rawlins County Invitational on April 8 and the St. Francis meet on Tuesday. Cheylin will go to the Quinter meet on Friday, one of Kansas’ larger regular season small-class meets. Bird City has had two meets cancelled, Triplains on April 12 and Oakley on April 22.
Bermudez went a then-career best 40-7.5 at Greeley County. He posted 39-0.5 at the Quinter Quad, and 40-0.5 at Atwood. At St. Francis, Bermudez posted 41 feet for a new career best. That also marked the best triple jump by a Cheylin boy in at least nine years, per MileSplit archives. That bested the previous mark of 40-7.75 set by Devon Janicke in 2016.
Currently, Cheylin has its junior high and high school teams practice together and share coaches. Andrew Bouza is head coach, and Dayna Shaw has worked with the jumpers.
At Greeley County, Bermudez won a seven-athlete field by six inches over Greeley County senior Jesus Martinez. He captured the Quinter Quad by nearly two feet. At Atwood, he won by 2.5 inches. The St. Francis meet had 10 competitors, and Bermudez won by nearly three feet. He currently ranks first among boys that will compete at the 1A Colby regional.
“We have jumping pits and runaways, and then we have a rubberized mat that we can roll out on our concrete runways that has the boards marked on it and everything,” Walden said. “And then they jump into a sand pit, so I would say on our dirt track is not conducive to a lot of speed training, but we do have a good runway for jumping long jump and triple jump, I would say that is hands down our best part of our track facility would be our jumping facilities.”