Penn Hills junior finds unexpected success in long jump

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Sunday, April 28, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Ronald Porter didn’t think much about the long jump at first.

Entering his first track and field season at Penn Hills, the junior wanted to help get his time in the 100 dash down to earn bragging rights with his football teammates. But Indians coach Lee Zelkowiz and his staff learned quickly that they wanted Porter to jump as well.

“When he first came out to the team, my jump coach opened up the pit,” Zelkowitz said. “I’m watching him jump, and we decided to measure one. He went 20 or 21 feet on the first day of practice. He’s a force to be reckoned with.”

Porter showed what he could do at the Butler Invitational. He finished in fourth place in the long jump with a top jump of 21 feet, ½ inches. Porter also had Penn Hills’ top time in the 100 dash, placing 40th in 11.45 seconds.

“It wasn’t on my mind. I knew I was going to do the 100 and 200,” Porter said. “They were talking to me about (jumping). I’m glad I did.”

Porter initially participated in track and field with the Penn Hills Eagles Track Club in elementary school. He stopped after fifth grade because he had lost interest.

Porter decided to join the team again to stay in shape for football. His dad had been trying to get him to return to track since his freshman year. While practicing for football in the spring, Porter said he already noticed a difference.

“I had football practice (Wednesday), and I felt more in shape,” Porter said. “It’s getting me faster, to be honest. I’ve always been naturally fast.”

Zelkowitz believes Porter will continue to get better quickly as the season goes on, so they plan to continue challenging him to improve. Porter said he would like to battle for a place at WPIALs and states.

Zelkowitz said coaches are working to help Porter fine-tune his approach.

“We want him to keep working hard in practice and keep running hard in events he may not be crazy about running,” Zelkowitz said. “It will make his jumping and sprinting better. We want to embrace the work and know that it won’t get easier. As you get better, the workload gets harder.”

Porter was one of three Penn Hills athletes to medal at the Butler Invite.

Kali Booker, who is going to play soccer at Chowan University next year, placed seventh in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.91 seconds.

Achan Green was the Indians’ top finisher, placing third in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.86 seconds. Zelkowitz said he is happy with Penn Hills’ progress thus far.

“It’s a little early on, but you want to see where they are at,” Zelkowitz said. “After Butler, you can make some improvements, but when you go to the Baldwin Invite, there’s only a week left in the season and not enough time to improve. You want to set a goal and see how close you are to it after.”

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