Fitch trusting the process

Falcons high jumpers reaching new heights

Tribune Chronicle photos / John Vargo Austintown Fitch’s Adam Emerick tries to clear the bar during Saturday’s track and field meet at GlenOak High School.

PLAIN TWP. — Confidence. That’s what Arnaldo Morales has brought to Austintown Fitch high jumpers.The former Struthers High School and Youngstown State University standout is coaching the Falcons high fliers this season.

Two of them were lifting off at Saturday’s GlenOak Eagle Elite track and field meet, running the approach, vaulting themselves over a precariously placed bar and trying not to knock it to the ground — up, over and land on a soft mat. Not as simple as it sounds.

Adam Emerick came in as a freshman, state champion of the seventh and eighth grade state meet in the high jump, going 5-feet-11.

Jumping at the varsity level is different.

Tribune Chronicle photos / John Vargo Fitch high jump coach Arnaldo Morales, left, and Deondre McKeever, right, look on at Saturday’s Golden Eagle Elite track and field meet.

Morales, who has surpassed 7-0 at YSU, knows how to soar over the fiberglass bar.

He’s there to teach Emerick and the rest of the Fitch jumpers.

“Trust the process,” Morales said. “You’re not going to get everything at one time. It takes time to get it. You’re not going to get everything 6-0 to 6-6 like that. It’s going to take time. Trust the process.

“There’s going to be times where you have your head down. Why am I in this sport? Then that one meet comes in and you blow the door out the water. Trust the process.”

Deondre McKeever, a Fitch senior, has reached 6-2 this season. He’s there to help Emerick as well.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Austintown Fitch high jumpers Deondre McKeever, left, and Adam Emerick, right, talk during Saturday’s competition.

“It’s all mental for him,” McKeever said. “His approach is pretty smooth. Once he gets to the bar, he kind of stares at the bar and gets that mind block in his head. If he jumps, gets it out of his head, he’ll get over it.”

McKeever didn’t get a height on Saturday, but went 20-8.5 in the long jump to take third.

He knows he has a 6-6 in his wheelhouse, working on his legs and butt to get over the bar.

McKeever said watching Morales jump in practice has helped him be a better athlete. Taking advantage of the moment is what this Fitch senior needs to do.

“I don’t care how high you jump,” McKeever said. “You have to show me on that day. That’s how my mindset is.”

That’s exactly what Morales wants to convey to his group of jumpers, not that far removed from high school and collegiate competition.

“For this sport, you have to have a cool, calm, collective mind,” Morales said. “I know from experience that 6-4 could make it (to state).”

Emerick said he and a couple of jumpers made a bet with Morales at an early April Medina meet. The former YSU standout jumped 6-8 at the next practice.

“At least he knows what he’s talking about,” Emerick said.

Now, it’s about eradicating the nerves. He cleared 6-0 to take seventh at GlenOak.

Clearing the mind during competition is what the freshman hopes to achieve.

“I try my best not to think about it,” Emerick said.

He wants to trust the process.