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SWR high jumper will land at Monmouth

When Blake Wehr made his college choice public in a ceremony Friday at the Shoreham-Wading River High School track, it couldn’t have come as too great a surprise. After all, the high jumper will be the latest in a line of SWR athletes to move on to Monmouth University.

Wehr will be the newest addition to the SWR-Monmouth pipeline that included the likes of Erik Anderson, Amanda Dwyer, Ryan Ledda and Rickie Casazza. Casazza, a high jumper like Wehr, will be a senior at Monmouth the next school year when Wehr joins the Division I men’s track and field team at West Long Branch, N.J.

“I’m jumping with Rickie Casazza again,” said Wehr, who took part in a photo opportunity with SWR coach Joe Mordarski and high jump coach Paul Anderson to verbally commit to Monmouth. “It’s kind of a legacy thing now, I guess.”

The situation will be similar to when Wehr first began high jumping three years ago. Casazza was a senior and Wehr was a freshman with plenty to soak in.

“I remember his first practice,” Casazza said. “I don’t know how to explain it. You could tell that he was going to be special, but at first it’s kind of tough with the form and stuff, so you don’t necessarily know at first how good someone’s going to be, but he looked OK from the start, which is kind of something that you don’t normally see. Normally when somebody goes in, they just look kind of like a fish jumping out of the water, but he kind of seemed like he had something from the start, from that first practice, working for him.”

Wehr has jumped as high as 6 feet, 7 inches indoors last year and 6-4 outdoors this year. This spring season, he has taken first place in both the high jump and long jump in SWR’s first two meets. His high jumps in those meets were 6-2 (in a torrential downpour) and 6-4.

Wehr said his college choice was between Monmouth and Memphis. “It came down to the wire,” he said.

Why Monmouth?

“There’s a lot of reasons, actually,” he said. “I love the team. I love the coaches. I think it felt the most like home. I feel like they have the best team chemistry and all that good stuff. Yeah, it just felt right.”

Wehr, 6-4 1/2 and long-legged, looks built to high jump. It can be a fickle event.

“It’s very much a mental game,” he said. “If you’re not in the zone, I like to say, you’re not really in that space to really compete and compete at a high level and win some meets.”

Shoreham-Wading River high jumper Blake Wehr had an upside-down view of things while competing in the state meet March 7, 2020 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. (Credit: Bill Landon)

In last year’s state indoor meet, Wehr finished fourth among public school high jumpers and fifth in the Federation, which includes private schools, clearing 6-4. That earned him all-state status.

Casazza said Wehr has “a lot of potential. He’s extremely talented. He has great form and a lot of room to grow.”

At Monmouth, Wehr will be joining a team that earlier this month won its seventh straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference outdoor championship.

What can Wehr expect when he joins the Hawks?

“There’s going to be a lot of responsibility on the next level,” Casazza said. “There’s a lot more that goes into it as far as training is concerned, and practices and team meetings, traveling, also balancing it with school, but he can expect a great group of guys that are going to be accepting and excited to win another championship and continue our streak.”

Wehr said he’s excited to be reunited with Casazza, who he credits for much of his success.

“I can’t even tell you how much I learned from him,” Wehr said. “Not even just as a high jumper, but kind of how to handle myself in big meets, in big situations … I credit him a ton for my success. I 100% would not be in the situation I am without him.”