Long before Providence’s Mike Monroe became state runner-up in the high jump, he had to clear an obstacle in junior high.
“I tried out for the track team in seventh grade, didn’t make it,’’ he said.
Instead of giving up on track, Monroe returned for tryouts the next year at Liberty Junior High.
“Made it eighth grade,’’ he said.
After mostly running the 400 and 800 meters back then, Monroe noticed a group of teammates working on the high jump in practice.
“I went over there and just threw myself over it and made it,’’ he said.
Although Monroe claimed he was “not very good’’ in eighth grade, he caught the eye of longtime Providence coach Ken Raymond when Monroe jumped five feet, six inches in his first high school meet.
“He said ‘You’re a high jumper. I don’t care if you like it or not. This is what you’re doing,’ ’’ Monroe said. “I’m so glad he said that.’’
Raymond coached the Providence track team for years before Mark Coglianese became head coach. Raymond still works with the high jumpers and distance runners.
“Mike is one of those super-kids you’d like every athlete to be,’’ Raymond said. “He works tremendously hard … He really understands the event. He probably could coach it.’’
Monroe jumped 6-7 as a sophomore to take third place in the 2012 Class 2A state meet. Providence was moved up to Class 3A last year and Monroe cleared 6-9 to take second.
“To succeed at high jump, you need to be technically sound in everything, or else it’s not going to happen,’’ Monroe said. “Every year I get stronger and my body composition changes. I have to rework everything I do.
“Usually indoor I start out slow because I’m trying to put the pieces back together. By the time I can get out on the track, get myself back into rhythm, I start going high again.’’
Monroe pointed out an important improvement he recently made in his technique.
“When I plant my foot on my last step, I used to just dive into the bar,’’ he said. “I would have a problem with jumping straight up first. Now I’m getting to the point where I can jump straight up before I start diving into the bar.’’
His personal best of 6-11 came last summer in a qualifying meet for the IAAF World Youth Championships.
“He’s a great athlete,’’ Coglianese said. “He could be a good hurdler.’’
Before he leaves Providence for the University of Pennsylvania, Monroe has a specific goal this season.
“I want to hit every single mark that I lay down and execute my form perfectly at the meet I need to do it at, which is outdoor state,’’ he said.