Finch taking the right steps to high jump success
by Aaron Garcia
In many ways, Cole Finch’s high jump career began as a dare.
As a freshman member of Weddington’s football team, Finch didn’t have much to do in the spring. After school one day, a friend dared him to jump over some folding tables in the school’s building, and he did.
“(An assistant track coach) actually saw me jump over a couple of tables one day – some of those long tables – and he told me I needed to come out there and try track,” Finch recalled.
So he did. Finch took part in a couple of relays and, of course, the long jump. But it wasn’t until his sophomore season that Finch tried the event that would eventually help him earn the title of Union County Weekly’s 2011-12 Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year: the high jump.
This season, Finch emerged as one of the nation’s top talents in the high jump, setting a personal record of 6 feet, 7 inches at Monroe’s Polar Bear meet in early January. Finch’s mark was the second-best of the indoor track season statewide, according to athletic.net, and 18th nationally. At the Class 1A/2A/3A state indoor meet in February, Finch cleared 6-4 to take bronze after his foot narrowly hit the bar on his 6-6 attempt.
Finch said he made sizeable gains this season – he topped out at 6-2 in the past – after working with new coach Joanna Alley, a former Weddington jumper herself. Finch said he went from eight approach steps to 10, which made all the difference.
“When I was doing the eight steps, I wasn’t getting enough speed coming up to the bar,” Finch said. “When I added those two steps, it just felt like it came together a little better.”
While he still contributes to the relays (he also ran the third leg of the Warriors’ sixth-place 4×400-meter relay team at the state meet), Finch said he’s far from a finished product in the high jump.
“I never really thought I would get to 6-6; I always thought 6-2 would be good,” Finch said. “I’m still progressing. I’m still trying to get those steps perfect. Every time I run up, it feels a little bit different still, but I’m slowly getting it.
“But it’s still a work in progress. There are still things I can work on.”
At this point, who would bet against him?