PARKERSBURG -Garret Lynch is accustomed to making substantial leaps as a high jumper, but he has never tackled one of such proportions as the one which will land him in Wichita, Kansas.
On Monday afternoon, the senior from Parkersburg South High School signed a national letter of intent with Division I track and field program Wichita State University. The campus is a 17-hour drive from his hometown.
"The closest school I really had an interest in was Western Carolina, but then once I got to Wichita I knew this was the place for me," Lynch said. "I wanted a change of scenery and Kansas is definitely a change of scenery."
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Parkersburg South high jumper Garret Lynch (front row, second from left) signed his national letter of intent with Wichita State University on Monday afternoon. Present for the signing ceremony were, front row from left: Paula Lynch (mother), Garret Lynch, Jim Lynch (father) and Sharon Lynch (grandmother). Pictured in the back row: South assistant track coach Irwin DeGraef, South head track coach Steve Fox and South athletic director Rick Leach.
Lynch closed out his high school career this past weekend at the W.Va. state championships at Laidley Field in Charleston and placed runner-up to three-time state champion Errin Baynes of Wheeling Park. Lynch cleared 6 feet, 6 inches and nearly converted his third attempt at 6-8.
"I hit it with my calf and knocked the bar over," Lynch said. "My steps were off and I didn't feel like it was a very good day, but I'll take it. Errin Baynes is arguably one of the best jumpers in the nation."
There were plenty of good days during Lynch's time with the South program. He captured three Region 4 titles, including this year when he set a personal record for an outdoor meet at 6-7.
"At regionals it was a good place to jump - I like jumping at Parkersburg High School's track," Lynch said.
Lynch qualified for state three years in a row, placing seventh as a sophomore and third as a junior. He contributed his services to a few running events, but as a member of Wichita State he will focus his efforts primarily on high jumping for Steve Rainbolt, who is the university's director of track and field and cross country.
In Rainbolt's 12th season with the Shockers, the men's track team placed second this year at the Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Meet. Assistant coach Heidi Yost oversees the jumpers.
"I just have to put the work in, hit the weight room and hopefully everything works out," Lynch said.
Lynch also participated in cross country and basketball at Parkersburg South. One claim to fame as a basketball player was winning the slam-dunk competition at this year's Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Basketball Classic.
"I did that crazy dunk off the wall - that was fun," Lynch said. "I came to practice the night before the game and practiced that dunk probably an hour or two and only made it once."
Lynch began high jumping in seventh grade. He credits part of success to Parkersburg South assistant coach Irwin DeGraef. Once Lynch became a member of the Patriot track and field program, his jumps consistently reached 6-6.
Now, Lynch has his sights set on setting the bar even higher for Wichita State.
"It's been my dream since I was a little kid playing tee ball to make it to Division I in some sport. I made it in track and it was like a dream come true."