Preseason Boys Indoor Preview: High Jump

Could we see the first 7-foot clearance since 2021?



Expect the unknown to present itself because there are only two of the top 10 from a year ago return.

With the calendar just now almost turning to February, preseason state favorite and defending 1A champion Mason Kooi (Sr., Springfield (Lutheran)) has already turned it up a few notches for the season. Keep in mind that he did not compete indoors a year ago.

Kooi, who is a Swiss Army knife in the sprints and jumps for Lutheran, held off fellow one-man-show Jadon Robertson from Cowden-Herrick to win the state title after not even competing in the event at state in 2021. Kooi reached 6-10 (2.08m), which was a vast improvement considering his best was only 6-4 entering the sectional meet. Now, Kooi showed he means business this indoor season already having competed in three meets dating back to December 16. In addition to state leads in the Triple Jump and Long Jump, Kooi cleared 6-8 at Principia College in December, a personal best excluding state last year. He has since jumped 6-6.75 and 6-7.5 over the previous two weeks. Can Kooi best 6-10 during this indoor season? Who will be around to push him?

Another returning state champion and top returning indoor performer, Princeton's Teegan Davis (Sr.) may be the one to do just that. Davis, whose outdoor best is 6-8 from May 2022, won the 2A state meet with a jump of 6-6.25. But, Davis' all-time best jump actually came from the indoor season last year, where his 6-9.5 jump at Illinois Top Times gave him the indoor 2A 'state title' by four inches. Davis' indoor season in 2022 did not begin until March, so one question he will have to answer is, 'when will he join Kooi at the top of the indoor leaderboards?' If Davis makes another late entrance, Kooi may have a monopoly of the indoor #1 for quite some time.

Davis' state title required him to hold off a couple of formidable competitors who will return for this track season. Dylan Bazzell  (Sr., Fairbury (Prairie Central)) was runner-up to Davis matching his previous best height at 6-5.25.

Mizzou signee Nicholas Deloach Jr. (Sr., Cahokia) was third at 6-4. Both return to make a run back at Davis. Don't overlook Deloach's younger teammate Jo'Viano Howard (Jr., Cahokia). Howard finished tenth at Top Times and ninth at Outdoor state posting heights just over 6' but has shown a 6-6 performance dating back to April at Triad H.S. These two Comanches will enjoy the benefit of friendly competition at practice to push their boundaries.

The top returner in 3A is Normal Community's Chris Taylor (Sr.). Taylor tied for third at state with 6-5.25 but had gone as high as 6-7.25 earlier in the year. Taylor typically has a heavy event load for the Ironmen-he is also their top Long Jump and 100m dash returner.

Marcus Kennedy (Sr., Chicago (Brother Rice)) is also in the mix having jumped 6-4 during both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2022 and is the second returner in 3A.

Another 3A jumper from the city to watch is Julius Washington (Sr., Chicago Kenwood). Washington turned in performances hovering around 5.5 feet throughout the 2022 indoor season, but it clicked for him come outdoor when he passed 6' eight times including a huge 6-5.5 clearance to give him the Chicago Public League title. He was the first finisher outside the medals at state. What will Washington show this season?

Two 3A podium finishers from Top Times in 2022 that deserve a mention are Robert Wagner (Sr., Oak Lawn Community) and Kosta Zografos (Jr., Wauconda). Wagner finished just outside the top three on misses at 6-5.25, which represents his all-time best (he jumped 6-4.75 to win the South Suburban Red conference title outdoors). Youngster Zografos was the NLCC conference champion jumping his best 6-5.25. He managed 6-5 during the indoor season in 2022.

An early season high performer to watch is Matthew Lindberg (Sr., Chatham (Glenwood)). Lindberg improved greatly in the high jump during the outdoor 2022 season and ended the season with a 6-3 personal best and conference runner-up (he finished 12th at sectionals). But already this indoor season, Lindberg showed out for a huge 6-6 win at Dorothy Dawson in Bloomington, which is IL #2 behind Kooi's 6-8. Lindberg's improvement shakes up the 3A rankings a little and he is an immediate contender to make noise at Top Times.

Honorable Mention: Cameron Williams (Jr., Glenbard South), Khalil Thorps-Watt (Jr., Collinsville), Chance Young (Jr., Cerro Gordo), Noah Gilmore (Jr., Robinson), Chris Nelson (So., Herrin), Hayden Stone (Jr., McHenry), Matt Pluff (So., Freeburg), Landon Webb (Sr., Vienna), Drew Rogers (So., Paris)