When Kevin McGee leapt six feet, five inches 34 years ago in the spring of 1976 to establish a new Winthrop High School record in the high jump, Gerald Ford was President. Happy Days, Charlie’s Angels, and MASH were among the top TV shows. Disco was all the rage and boys with Peter Frampton style hair wore bell bottom trousers with clunky shoes that had three inch heels.
And Jake Connors was minus 17 years in the making.
But when Connors equaled McGee’s mark last year with a leap of 6-5, Viking head track coach Pat McGee knew that it would be only a matter of time before Jake would supplant her son (and how ironical is that?) in the WHS record books.
So too, no doubt, did Viking basketball fans, who were treated all season to Jake “Skywalker” Connors’s high flying act under the boards which saw him soar over opposing forwards players even though they routinely had three or four inches on him.
Connors had captured first place in Winthrop’s first two meets this season with relatively inauspicious jumps (for Jake) of 5-10 and 5-11. A late season shot at the record seemed the likely scenario as Jake rounded into form with the warmer weather.
So when Jake literally raised the bar last week on April 21 in the meet with Beverly to set the new mark at 6-6, his early season performance was all the talk of the North Shore.
“Jake is an amazing talent,” marveled McGee, his coach. “He had a nice track (at Salem) to compete on and he just went out there and did it.”
Coach McGee also noted that her son was thrilled that his record finally had been broken. “Kevin was delighted,” said Pat. “He had been pulling for Jake to do it ever since Jake tied him last year.”
And what is it about high jump records? The men’s world record has stood since 1993 when Javier Sotomayor of Cuba set it at 8-0.46 and the women’s mark has stood since 1987 at 6-10.28, both of which are the longest standing marks ever in that event.
As for the rest of the Beverly meet, Connors added a first in the triple jump with a landing of 36-6 to add to his laurels for the day and put 10 points onto the Winthrop side of the scoresheet.
Teammate Dan Sena took a first in the 400 intermediate hurdles in 65.7 and a second in the 100 high hurdles in 17.6. Mark Jenkins was a first place winner in the 400 in 60.2 and also came through with a third place in the 100 dash in 12.8.
Other second place finishers for Winthrop were Alejandro Miranda in the two mile in 11:19, a personal record, and Nick Doonan with a discus toss of 95-5.
Third place efforts were turned in by Matt Stasio with a throw of 93-7 in the discus; Jim Barker with a long jump of 16-3; and Paul Correle with a shotput heave of 35-1.
McGee and her crew were set to compete against Swampscott yesterday (Wednesday).