So, where was Wehr at?
There were two answers to that question Saturday.
Moments after Blake Wehr had finished competing in the high jump in the New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships, he didn’t seem all that pleased with himself.
“I had my heart set on winning, but I guess it wasn’t my time,” the Shoreham-Wading River junior said. Then he added: “I’m very upset with myself. I think I could have done much, much better.”
Another half-hour later or so, after Wehr had taken his place on the podium at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, had two medals draped around his neck and learned that he had earned All-State status, he brightened up some.
“I’ll be a lot happier now that I know that [I made All-State], but I still could have done better,” he said.
The competitor in Wehr couldn’t help himself.
Wehr’s disappointment aside, let’s get some facts straight: He came in fourth place among public school high jumpers and fifth in the Federation, which includes private schools. His technique looked good as he went 4-for-4 on his first four jumps. He didn’t touch the bar once at 5 feet, 6 inches, 6-0, 6-2 and 6-4.
Wehr was looking good — until he ran into trouble at 6-6. On his first try at that height, his heel dislodged the bar. He barely grazed the bar on his second attempt, but it was enough to cause the bar to shake and fall. Then, after he failed on his third and final attempt, he squatted on the mat for a second, looking down and dejected with his hands on his knees.
His first state meet had come to an end. Afterward, he shook hands with officials.
“When you’re in a state meet, anything goes,” Shoreham’s high jumping coach, Paul Anderson, said. “He hung in there. He was [making] first-height clearances, which was great, but you know, you got to take the good with the bad. I’m not disappointed in him.
“He had so much height. Even the 6-6 jumps, he has so much air, it’s just a little tiny form thing, and that’s correctable.”
The lean, 6-4 Wehr, who looks every bit like a high jumper, had cleared 6-4 to take first place in the Long Island Elite Indoor Meet at St. Anthony’s High School seven days earlier. His best jump indoors remains the 6-7 he recorded in the state qualifying meet.
“It’s like 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, and you try to be in the right mindset, and if you’re not, then you already lost before you jump,” Wehr said. “I was really focused … Basically, the focal point was to stay focused, not get too flustered.”
Wehr certainly didn’t look flustered. Competing in the high jump involves plenty of down time (in other words, waiting). Wehr was well-prepared. He was apparently the only one of the 17 high jumpers who brought a small, portable chair to sit in and relax between jumps, looking as calm and comfortable as if he was at a beach barbecue.
“I love it,” he said of the chair. “Costco. Twenty bucks. It’s a great investment.”
Henninger senior Kwamere White, the state outdoor champion last spring, was first at 6-6. He finished ahead of three other high jumpers who had also cleared 6-6: Gates-Chili junior Calvin Finger, Westhampton Beach senior Jack Meigel and Archbishop Stepinac senior Nazir Hibbert.
Asked if he felt pressure, Wehr answered: “I would like to say no, but definitely. I always put way more pressure than I need to on myself, but I think it motivates me. Other people say it’s not a good idea.
“You really try to be in the right mindset. If you’re not, then like I said, you already lost.”
Wehr has two even bigger indoor meets ahead of him. He will compete in the New Balance Nationals Indoor next Saturday at The Armory in Manhattan, and then the USTAF Hershey National Youth Indoor Championships March 20 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex.
“It’s just another day jumping,” Anderson said. “We have two more real big meets … coming up. The pressure’s on him, and he usually responds really well.”
Wehr, who competed in the outdoor state meet last spring (he was 37th at 5-9), knows a thing or two about dealing with pressure.
“It’s learning how to compete in these states,” Anderson said. “It’s really, you got to keep your head in the game and do the best you can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He knows how to compete.”