RUMFORD — Kyle Farrar thought he would do well in the long jump at last year’s Class C outdoor track state championship. He did better than just well, wining the event with a personal-best jump.

It was a little bit of a surprise first-place finish for the Mountain Valley sophomore. He won’t be able to sneak up on anybody this year.

“I think this is the year to kind of catapult himself up. Last year was kind of a surprise,” Mountain Valley coach JT Taylor said of Farrar. “Now I think people are going to be looking at him and wanting to beat him, so that target is going to be on his back. He’s going to have to have a little more motivation and really work hard so that someone doesn’t get ahead of him.”

It was never in doubt that Farrar had the ability to be a good long-jumper. He just needed to put all the pieces together.

He did just that during championship season. After not being able to clear 20 feet early in the season, Farrar did it in the Mountain Valley Conference championship. Then he bested 21 feet to win the Class C state title a week later, and a week after that jumped more than 22 feet to finish fifth at the New England championship.

“He kind of peaked at the right time,” Taylor said.

What aided Farrar’s metaphorical (and literal) jump was learning how to take his recognizable speed and turn it into a springboard for a quality jump.

“It was kind of a transition from just building that explosive speed to getting up in the air,” Taylor said.

Then once he got in the air, Farrar had to learn how to land as productively as possible.

“He was afraid to get dirty, is what I used to tell him all the time,” Taylor said. “If you watch anybody, world-class jumper, when they get out of the pit they’re full of dirt. Any way their body lands, they’re getting every single inch out of it. A lot of times (Kyle would) finish his jump too early, with his feet coming down, losing a foot.”

Farrar has made strides in both his jumping and his landing, and now finds himself in a much different spot entering his junior year than he did going into his sophomore season.

“Man, it was an adventure. It was really fun. I wasn’t really expecting to win a state championship last year at all. I surprised myself very much,” Farrar said. “It really motivated me to get more.”

That motivation included deciding to skip the basketball season and focus on preparing for outdoor track. It was a decision that saddened Taylor the basketball coach but delighted Taylor the track coach.

“It was a double-egded sword. We really wanted him to play basketball. He told the head coach and myself that he was dedicating the winter to lifting,” Taylor, who joined the basketball team as an assistant this year, said. “We really missed him on the basketball team, but hopefully that helps him, propels him to get that 22 1/2 to 23 feet range.”

That 23-foot mark is something Farrar has his sights set on. It’s a leap that would have put Farrar into the top three of last year’s New Englands.

Farrar is also looking to make the leap to another jumping event this season. He plans on adding the triple jump to a repertoire that already includes the long jump and 100-meter dash (his former favorite event). It’s an addition that both Farrar and Taylor say won’t be as easy as it sounds, but one that Farrar has the ability to do successfully.

“It’s a tough adjustment to do both in the same meet, because they’re so different, but he has the physical tools that it’s possible,” Taylor said.

“The good thing about it is long jump always goes first, which I really like,” Farrar said, adding that he can get long jump out of the way and then work with Taylor during meets to prepare for triple jump.

Farrar dabbled in the event last year, clearing 39 feet in one meet. That would have placed Farrar at last year’s Class C states. And it’s a far cry from his attempt in the triple jump as a freshman, when Taylor called his one try a “train wreck.”

Adding high finishes in the triple jump to likely wins in the long jump and 100 dash will make Farrar a valuable performer for a Falcons team that Taylor thinks could make noise in the MVC.

“Last year was a big year for him and the school in general because hopefully we’re kind of getting back to where we used to be. We used to be strong in the track program,” Taylor said. “When you have a athlete like Kyle, you kind of put him in events where hopefully that he can get the most points.”

Farrar, who now considers himself one of the leaders on his team, hopes he has more company at the state championship from his teammates. But he also has some personal goals for states.

“I’d like to get two (state titles).”

It’s not taking a very big leap to think that Farrar could do just that.

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