Elijah Rogers honors his grandfather by beating a new friend for the first time
Elijah Rogers was in this position a week earlier.
The Liberty senior was locked in a battle with Nazareth’s Jordan Wicker in the high jump during a dual meet.
If Rogers could have cleared 6 feet, 3 inches, he would have taken first place. He didn’t and finished second on a tiebreaker.
Rogers had another shot at Wicker at Monday’s EPC Track & Championships. He made the most of it, clearing 6-3 on his fourth attempt to claim the gold medal.
In the process, Rogers gained a friend in Wicker — a month or so after losing a close family member. The timing could not have been better.
“I lost my grandfather [Mark Anthony Rogers] to COVID,” the Liberty jumper said. “He used to come to all my meets. It was a little weird not seeing him here.
“During quarantine last year, he would help me, tell me about my technique.”
Rogers missed Liberty’s first meet this season to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Since then, Hurricanes coaches, especially Kevin Bush, have helped him stay focused on being the best he could be.
It has not been a smooth ride.
Rogers tried in all four EPC Northampton County Division meets this spring to clear 6-3. He came up short.
With Liberty and Nazareth boys locked in a close dual earlier this month, Rogers wanted more than anything to take first place to help his team win. Wicker won and Nazareth won the dual to grab a share of first place with Liberty and Easton with 4-1 records.
Despite the setbacks, the lost junior season because of COVID and the passing of his grandfather, Rogers has done his best to stay positive.
“It’s a great feeling to get the opportunity to jump against great competitors,” he said, “no matter how many meets we competed in this year.
“When I lost last week [to Wicker], I was bummed, bummed for our team. But I never let it get me down. I kept practicing, kept working. When I saw him again [Monday], we talked. We were giving each other tips on how to be better.
“I love being in that environment.”
Wicker was among those smiling on the podium as Rogers received his gold medal. The Blue Eagle won the long jump and grabbed another silver in the triple jump. He undoubtedly will be motivated as the postseason moves on.
It is great to see that competitive spirit there, for athletes to push each other and help one another.
Rogers, who will enter next week’s District 11 Track & Field Championships at Blue Mountain as one of the top seeds in Class 3A, also accepted some tough love this spring from his Hurricanes coaches when the situation called for it.
“My coaches, whatever I needed they were there for me,” he said. “I promised to do my best this year. Coach Bush, I can’t thank him enough; my other coaches, too.
“At times I needed a stern talking to. They knew I could be better. I’m better now, I’m here now. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
District 11 Track & Field Championship Meet Records
Shot put: Mike Hartenstine, Liberty, 61-1.25, 1971
High jump: Rob Arnold, Liberty, 7-0.25, 1998
Long jump: Devin Street, Liberty, 23-6, 2009
100: Jaylyn Aminu, Liberty, 11.77, 2015