MBHS High Jumper Sets National, State Mark

MBHS Track Team

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

March 31, 2020

Morro Bay High’s star high jumper has soared to unheard of heights, setting a school and meet record and raising the bar for prep jumpers across the State and the Nation

MBHS senior, Joey Ruddell, cleared 6-feet 11-inches at the recent Rincon Races on “Leap Day,” Feb. 29 in Carpinteria. The mark was Ruddell’s personal best, set the MBHS school record, and the meet record. It was also the highest mark so far this year in the State of California, and was the best mark in the entire United States until March 5, when according to track coach Chuck Ogle “an athlete from Texas jumped 7-0.”

The mark is just the second time a MBHS track athlete set a National mark. Shayla Ballentine set the State and National high school record in the pole vault when she won the State Championship in 1999. That record stood for many years but was eventually broken.

Ruddell’s new mark broke his old school standard of 6-7. But he wasn’t the only Pirate to excel at Rincon.

Ava Burton won the frosh-soph pole vault at 9’-6”, breaking the meet record of Morro Bay’s Julia Graham set in 2016. Burton was also first in the long jump at 15’-91/2” breaking the meet record.

Other Pirate medal winners were:

Tyler Collins 1st in Varsity pole vault, 12’-6”; Tyler Brady Varsity PV, second 12’; and Jaron Li took fourth place in VPV at 10’. Elias Graves was first in Varsity long jump 19’-8” and second in the Varsity high jump at 6’.

Ben Mielke was eighth in Varsity high jump at 4’-10”; and 15th in the long jump at 14’-2”. Max Morosin was eighth in VLJ at 16’-3”; and fifth in the high jump at 5’-2”. Luke Mellom was seventh in VHJ at 5’-0”; and Jackson Reilly was first in Varsity shot putt at 40’-9¾”; and seventh in the discus at 99’-10”.

On frosh-soph, Phoenix Popp was first in the 110 High Hurdles in 18.24-seconds; first in 300 H in 46.52; and first in the long jump at 18’. And Austin Young took second in the F/S pole vault at 9’-6”; and eighth in the F/S LJ 8th 14’-10”.

On the girls’ team,

Grace Curti was ninth in the F/S PV and fourth in the high jump at 4’-2”. And frosh-soph Olivia Fernflores was first in the 100 hurdles in 19.97 and first in the 300 hurdles in 53.78.

With Ruddell, who has already signed to high jump at the University of Idaho next year, seeming to jump higher and higher with each competition, his and the Pirates’ entire season is in danger of doinking the bar, after all high school athletic events were canceled by the school district due to concerns about the spread of the corona virus, COVID-19.

The Pirates also competed in the King City Meet held March 7, but things ended there. It’s a tough blow for the Pirates’ Track Teams who both were looking to vie for an Ocean League Title.

“As of the date our season was suspended on March 12,” coach Ogle said, “Elias Graves held best mark in the Ocean League in the long jump at 20’6”, and Tyler Collins was tops in the pole vault at 12’6”. Many other athletes are ranked in the Top 8, meaning they would be in a position to score points in the league championship meet.

“Notably, Graves is ranked second in the high jump at 6’, and Tyler Brady is second in he pole vault at 12’.

The girls are hoping to defend their league title form last season. “The girls’ team leads the league in four events: Ava Burton in the pole vault (9’6”) and long jump (16’6”) and Jenna Borzellino in the 200 (28.15) and 400 (1:05.94).

“Olivia Fernflores is ranked second in the 300 hurdles at 52.39, and our 4 by 100 relay is second at 53.79. As with the boys, the girls feature depth in all events, and are well-positioned to defend their title.”

We hope they get a chance to do just that. “Obviously, we are very hopeful that our season will continue. Beyond the league level, we have many athletes ready to achieve in the post-season including, of course, Ruddell, who has an excellent chance to claim a State Championship.”

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