Robbins soars into second

COLUMBUS – Junior Zach Robbins is reaching new heights for the West Branch boys track team.

Robbins’ second-place finish in the Division II boys high jump is the best ever at the state track meet for the West Branch boys, who never had better than a fourth-place finish until Saturday.

He cleared a personal-best 6-foot-9 and was 1 inch away from a state title.

“It stinks not winning,” Robbins said. “I’ve still got next year.”

Columbus Linden McKinley sophomore Jeffery Floyd, who joined the track team in April, won the state title at 6-foot-10.

“I was coming in seeded well,” Robbins said. “This kid comes out of nowhere and surprised all of us.”

Seven jumpers cleared 6-6, but it was down to just Robbins and Floyd after 6-7 left to battle it out at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

“Zach did a very nice job,” West Branch boys coach Tracy Orwick said. “It’s so easy to get distracted.”

Robbins had only one miss through 6-7 and was the lone jumper to get over 6-8 on his second attempt. Both jumpers cleared 6-9 on their first tries, which put Robbins in control and a state title within reach.

But Floyd made his first attempt at 6-10 to take it away.

“Then he hit 6-10,” Robbins said. “I think it rattled me. I didn’t expect it.”

Robbins missed on his three attempts at 6-10.

“I was just coming in going for 6-10,” Robbins said. “I’ll get it.”

“He hasn’t done 6-10, but has been close,” Orwick said. “He will next season.”

Floyd’s winning jump matched his personal best, although he only went 6-6 at regionals.

“He just like flies over the bar,” Robbins said.

“We knew Floyd had the potential,” Orwick said.

Floyd has been jumping less than three months and already has a state title to show for it.

“At first I didn’t like track,” Floyd said. “I was scared when I went out in April.

“I didn’t know what to expect. No matter what, I have to do the best I can.”

So does Robbins.

He improved his high jump by seven inches from last year.

“He’s worked hard,” Orwick said. “He’s been doing a lot of extra.”

That includes private lessons, clinics and indoor meets.

“I thought I’d be good at it,” Robbins said. “I got to regionals as a sophomore.”

“He’s grown a little bit, which might have helped,” Orwick said. “He’s done above and beyond. He always does extra in practice.”

State notes

Robbins also plays on the school soccer team. He left right after standing on the podium Saturday to join his fellow West Branch juniors in Virginia Beach. They are playing in a sand beach volleyball tournament there.

He will have a good story for them.