Zach Jarosz is doing everything he can to avoid repeating what happened to him last spring.
The Lincoln Southwest senior track athlete had a promising start to the 2018 season indoors at Concordia on opening weekend, only to suffer a hamstring injury a week later that would linger the entire season.
Two weeks ago at Concordia, Jarosz uncorked a leap of 22 feet, 9 inches in the boys long jump, a mark that would’ve won the all-class gold medal at the state meet last May.
In chilly, windy conditions Thursday in the non-team scoring Lincoln Southwest Invitational at the Beechner Athletic Complex/Scott Track, Jarosz won the long jump with something much less — 20-9. He came back to capture both the 100-meter dash (:11.29) and 200 (:22.72) in the final early-season warmup meet before the major invitationals begin next week.
“I have to make sure I stay healthy and that I’m consistently getting better every day,” said Jarosz, who ran the 200 for the first time since his sophomore year. “That’s something I wasn’t able to do last year.”
After going 22-1½ in the long jump last year indoors at Concordia, Jarosz missed four meets because “I kept tweaking it (the hamstring) and would never heal,” he said.
At last year’s Southwest Invitational, all he could do was help measure marks as part of the crew working the long jump. By the time the hamstring finally cleared up around district meet time in May, it was too late.
That’s why he was making sure to get this warmup pants and sweatshirt on as quickly as possible after running or jumping Thursday.
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“I’ve got to make sure I keep doing the right things, whether it’s next week or in May,” he said. “I’m definitely making sure I’m staying warm today.”
A healthy Jarosz might’ve provided just enough points to push Southwest over the top in the Class A team race last season as the Silver Hawks finished half a point behind Lincoln High for the title.
Southwest junior Jack Nolley showed Thursday he should once again be a factor in the middle distance and distance events. He won both the 800 (2:03.23) and 1,600 (4:32.79). The weather conditions Thursday, however, kept another standout Southwest jumper, senior Jesse Lewis, on the sidelines.
Lewis has already gone 46-3 in the triple jump and 6-6 in the high jump this season.
The Southwest girls appear ready to defend their Class A team title after some dominating performances Thursday. Sophomore Kate Dilsaver and junior Katelyn Thompson had their versatility on display as each of them won three individual gold medals.
Dilsaver put together the difficult trifecta of victories in the 200 (:26.14), 400 (1:00.93) and 800 (2:23.87). Thompson was first in the 100 (:12.50), 100 high hurdles (:15.48) and triple jump (34-9).
“We’ve got some girls with state meet experience, but we also have some young kids who have a lot of potential,” Southwest track coach Brett Schuster said. “We’re excited to see how they develop during the season.”