Jenna and Jeff Ramos have excelled on the track for Leavitt.
Jenna Ramos has added incentive when she runs in the 100-meter dash at most meets.
The faster she finishes, the faster she can get over to the high jump pit to watch twin brother Jeff compete in – and in most cases win – that event.
“I always make sure I’m over here to see him jump,” said Jenna as the pair relaxed on the high jump mat at a recent practice. “I always ask him, So who’s your competition?’ and Who’s going to beat you this time?'”
Jenna then hunched her shoulders, lowered her voice and mocked Jeff.
“Then he’ll say, I don’t know, I don’t care, I’m gonna win,'” she said with a laugh.
“I don’t say that,” Jeff retorted. “Come on.”
This time, Jeff is right. Humble by nature if not in stature, Jeff Ramos has made a name for himself at Leavitt Area High School, and across the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and the state, as a high jumper.
Jumping at the chance
Like every year at their elementary school, Jenna and Jeff participated in an annual field day, where students competed in various outdoor events for fun. Separated by gender, they each competed in – and won – the high jump.
For Jenna, that’s where it ended.
“I did high jump in sixth grade, too,” said Jenna, “and I won, so we both won high jump, but I never stuck with it.”
For Jeff, it was only the beginning.
“I wanted to do it in middle school, so I did,” said Jeff. “I ended up coming in second my seventh-grade year at states and then I jumped 4 inches over my head my eighth-grade year. That’s when I knew I could get up this high.”
“This high” is still over the now-6-foot-2-inch Jeff’s head. His best outdoor jump is 6-foot-4. Indoors, he’s gone 6-6.
Becoming a champion
Jenna will be the first to admit that Jeff’s talents in his chosen discipline have far exceeded hers. That, she said, is part of the reason she always runs over to see him jump.
“It’s fun, because he’s so good at it,” Jenna said.
Good might be an understatement.
Jeff was solid as a junior indoors, making his way to the New England meet and finishing in sixth place.
“Last year it was really surprising at states,” said Jeff, who qualified there for the bigger meet. “It was really a crazy environment, a lot of people there. I didn’t expect to do that great on my first time, and I was a junior. I was surprised and happy with myself.”
That spring, Jeff fought through a tough ankle injury that allowed him to jump in just three meets – including the state meet – all season.
Last year outdoors, Ramos jumped a respectable 6-feet, 2-inches and finished second in a jump-off.
“Last year I broke my ankle, pretty much,” said Jeff. “I only had two meets and I really couldn’t prove myself, so this year, especially after winning indoors at New Englands, I feel like I have my own expectations to live up to.”
This year during indoor season, Jeff put everything together. He won the state meet as the No. 2 seed and then went to New Englands. There, he won in a jump-off.
“We had some trouble with his left trail leg,” said the Ramos’ coach at Leavitt, Bruce Bell. “We got him some new shoes. It seemed like the tag, or maybe his heel, clipped the bar at 6-8 down at New Englands. He won the states in a jump-off (last winter) and won the New Englands in a jump-off. That’s a sign he’s really maturing.”
Jenna, meanwhile, continues to compete in her three events – the long jump, the 100-meter dash and the 4×100-meter relay. Jenna and Jeff were named captains of this year’s Leavitt outdoor track team, and their support for each other continues to grow.
“They stand up for each other, they have fun together,” said Bell. “Other kids see it on the team and it just makes it a lot easier on everybody.”
Bell also continues to get after Jenna to follow her brother to the high jump.
“Mr. Bell keeps asking me when I’m going to go back over to the high jump,” laughed Jenna. “I tell him, just because (Jeff) can jump high doesn’t mean I can.”
The twins also decided to go to college together, and run track.
“We both plan on doing college track,” said Jenna. “It’s not the end, but it’s definitely going to be different.”
“We’re more well-known here in high school than we will be going to college,” added Jeff. “You have to really set your name again.”
Jeff and Jenna were both accepted at the University of Southern Maine, and they both had sent deposits in to confirm their enrollment. One small problem has arisen, though: Jeff is still being heavily recruited by the University of Maine’s flagship school in Orono. The difference? Maine is Division I.
“I got an e-mail from Maine last week,” said Jeff, “and they pretty much offered me a full scholarship, so we’re going up for a visit next Tuesday.”
But, in typical positive fashion, Jenna looked on the bright side.
“We can always transfer,” Jenna said. “There’s always a way around things.”
Or, in Jeff’s case, over them.