Before Blake Wehr had even come close to his first day as a track and field athlete two years ago, he approached Shoreham-Wading River coach Joe Mordarski and made a bold statement.
As Mordarski recalled, Wehr told him, “Coach … I’m going to be a superstar.”
Mordarski responded, “Alright, let’s see what you got, kiddo.”
And then Wehr gave Mordarski what he called “this big Blake smile.”
Wehr may be prophetic in one sense. He has emerged as a star — just not in the event he envisioned.
“I didn’t sign up to do high jump,” he said. “I signed up to be a sprinter, actually.”
That sounds comical now, given that everything about the 6-4, long-legged, slender-framed Wehr says high jumper. Assistant coach Paul Anderson had coached Wehr in volleyball two years ago and knew he had a high jumper in Wehr just waiting to come out. So, he “lured” Wehr to track. Wehr’s sprinting career was cut short, though. It wasn’t long before Wehr was headed to the high jump pit.
Now, two years after that “superstar” comment, Wehr has a lot more to smile about. The junior was smiling Saturday after he finished first in the high jump in the Long Island Elite Indoor Meet at St. Anthony’s High School. Wehr cleared 6 feet, 4 inches, winning by tiebreaker over Westhampton Beach senior Jack Meigel, who also did 6-4.
The ground conditions for the high jumpers were rather unique. Their run toward the bar started on field turf before a drop off to a hard surface before takeoff.
“It wasn’t the best day in my life,” Wehr said. “It wasn’t the best runway to jump on. You definitely have to adjust for every jump, especially going into the higher heights, you have to adjust for your timing and everything.”
Wehr entered the competition at 5-10, which he made on his first attempt. He then handled 6-0 on his third try before clearing 6-2 and 6-4 on his second attempts at those heights. He passed 6-5 and failed on all three of his attempts at 6-6.
The meet was good preparation for Wehr, who will jump in his first state indoor meet next Saturday at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.
Wehr reached new heights Feb. 10 when he took first place at the state qualifying meet with a career-best leap of 6-7 at Suffolk County Community College’s Suffolk Federal Arena in Brentwood. That’s a five-inch improvement from his best height in the 2018-19 indoor season.
“I was ecstatic,” said Wehr, who qualified for the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet March 15 at The Armory in Manhattan. “I knew that that was what it was going to take to get into the championship for nationals. My whole family was there, so it was a great moment.”
More great moments are expected for Wehr’s future. His performances have drawn interest from colleges, and he has greater heights to come, said his coaches.
“He has always made progress with his skills on and off the track,” Mordarski said. “… He’s gotten a lot faster. He’s gotten a lot stronger. So he’s pulling that power and speed to the bar and he’s getting over the bar even better than he has in the past. He’s got just a tremendous amount of talent.”
Another Shoreham junior high jumper, Alex Barrett, said Wehr’s passion for the sport, dedication and competitiveness stand out. “He helps me strive to be a better high jumper,” Barrett said. “Even my lowest days, when I don’t feel like being at practice, I’m with him and it’s a good day.”
So, what is Wehr looking to do at the state meet?
“I want to win it,” he said. “I want to win, more than I want anything. That’s a big thing for me.”
Before the season, Wehr said, he wrote a list of goals on a piece of paper that he attached to a ceiling. He said he looks at that list every night. One goal, he said, was written in large letters and underlined: “Win a state championship.”
That would be superstar territory, for sure.