Shoreham-Wading River High School’s rising star, Blake Wehr, is a rising high jumper who looks to be going places. Heck, he has been to some impressive places already, like Sacramento, Calif., for last month’s USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships.
The Wading River boy, who is about to enter his junior year at SWR, acknowledged that competing in what had to be considered the biggest meet of his life to this point was “very nerve-racking.” Yet, even with all those eyes upon him at Sacramento State University’s Hornet Stadium, Wehr came away with a medal. By clearing 5 feet, 10 3/4 inches, he finished seventh in the division for 15- and 16-year-olds. The top eight earned medals.
“The ultimate goal was to win, but I was happy with placing,” he told the Riverhead News-Review in a phone interview.
The 6-4 Wehr said competing on such a grand stage “really forces you to show up when the lights are on, when everybody’s watching.”
Among those in attendance were Wehr’s parents, Everett Jr. and Reagan, and older sister, Hailey. Blake is part of a sports family. Hailey, a volleyball player at Molloy College, and Blake’s older brother, Everett III, who is headed to Penn State Altoona to play baseball, are also athletes.
Wehr, who also plays volleyball for SWR in the fall, said he was recruited into high jumping two years ago by Paul Anderson, the Wildcats’ volleyball coach at the time who also coached the track team’s jumpers and pole vaulters.
“He knows anything,” Wehr said. “He really is an outstanding coach.”
Anderson sure knows a good high jumper when he sees one.
“I said, ‘I have a sport for you. You have to come down,’ and I lured him into the gym,” Anderson said. “He took to it great.”
Anderson is the latest in a line of talented high jumpers SWR has produced over the years, including Walter Fields, Eric Anderson (Paul’s son who competed for Monmouth University in New Jersey) and Rickie Casazza (currently jumping for Monmouth).
In his relatively short time in high jumping, Wehr has made tremendous progress. Last year he raised his personal-best outdoor height from 5-9 to 6-2. He has since cleared 6-4 outdoors, and his best indoor height is 6-2. Anderson said Wehr has soared as high as 6-7 in practice.
This past winter Wehr fell short of reaching the state indoor championships, hitting 5-10 to finish in a tie for 10th in the state qualifying meet. The recent spring season, however, was a different story. He reached the state meet and was 37th overall at 5-9.
Wehr isn’t one to rest on his accolades, though.
“I have a lot of goals,” he said. “I never really set one goal for the high jump. I want to do everything. I want to go to nationals. I want to win states. I want to win everything.”
Anderson sees tremendous potential in Wehr.
“I think this will be our next seven-footer at Shoreham,” Anderson said. He continued: “He has everything for the next phase, the collegiate level. He could be a big jumper. As a recruiter, that’s what you want, someone who has size, someone who has strength, someone who has speed.”
Just qualifying for the National Junior Olympic Championships was a feat in itself. Wehr said he needed to place among the top eight on Long Island and the top five in Region I to qualify for the national meet.
“We are all excited and proud of Blake and his amazing efforts at this event,” SWR athletic director Mark Passamonte said in a school district press release. “His ongoing achievements and passion for his sport along with his academic accomplishments align with our district’s commitment to excellence on all levels.”
So, what’s the best thing about high jumping?
“There’s a lot,” Wehr said. “Mainly, I like making people proud. I like showing people like Coach and my family, the people that believe in me, that they believe in the right guy.”
Photo caption: Blake Wehr of Wading River wearing the medal he earned at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo credit: Shoreham-Wading River Central School District)