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Shadle Park’s Jakobe Ford gracefully leaps over a training bar at Shadle Park High School. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Shadle Park’s Jakobe Ford set to jump high and long

Shadle Park senior Jakobe Ford hopes to be a Triple Crown winner this spring.

He wants to win state championships in the high, triple and long jumps.

And if he has his way, Ford will go where few jumpers in the Greater Spokane League have gone before.

To that end, Ford essentially must do it on his own. His individual high jump coach the past three years moved on to another school and the Highlanders’ long and triple jump coach must spend most of his time teaching rudimentary principles to other athletes.

Shadle Park head coach Mark Miller said he hasn’t had an athlete as naturally gifted as the 6-foot-7 Ford.

“His athletic ability is so outside the norm,” Miller said.

Miller went on to suggest several other events Ford would excel in if he added a fourth event.

“His stride and running ability is spectacular,” Miller said.

Ford doesn’t have the time to do anymore than he’s doing. In fact, Miller doesn’t envision Ford competing in all the jumps in any league duals other than taking a jump or two to post a mark for team points.

It’s not likely Ford will go all out in the three events in the same meet until the postseason.

The three jumps, especially high and triple, can take a toll on shins and knees. Miller said Ford will take an injury prevention mode through the regular season.

“We’ll watch that carefully,” Miller said. “We don’t want to push too hard too early.”

Miller marvels at Ford’s ability in the triple jump considering he did the event for the first time late last season. His first jump came in a league dual April 21 when he leaped 44-6½. He pushed that to 46-11 the following week and finished the season with four jumps in the 45-foot range including 45-½ to take second at state.

“He’s really just scratched the surface in triple jump,” Miller said.

Ford has watched enough video of himself and national-level athletes to pick up on areas he needs to improve. He breaks down the jumps in pieces, trying to refine and polish here and there.

There’s more involved in the mechanics of the jump than what one can see with the naked eye.

He captured the State 3A title in the high jump last spring, tying his personal best at 7-1 and breaking the state meet record (7-¼) set in 1979. He took second in the triple jump.

Starting with his freshman season, Ford has improved three inches each year in the high jump.

“I’d like to get at least 7-4 this season,” he said.

He and Noah Martin of University share the GSL record in the high jump at 7-1. They got it in the same dual last year.

Ford has his eye on league records in the triple jump (50-8 ¾) and long jump (23-11 ¾). Rashad Toussaint of West Valley set the triple mark in 2005 and Wayne Sepolen of Ferris got the long mark in 1968.

“I’d like to get 24 feet at least in the long jump and in the 50s in the triple jump,” Ford said.

The overall state best in the high jump is 7-4½ set in 1985 by Rick Noji.

Judging by his marks in Junior Olympic competition last summer, Ford has a shot at GSL triple and long jump records.

Ford’s overall personal best in the triple is 48-6 and 23-8 in the long came last summer.

He broke the school record (6-10) in the high jump last year and his high school personal best in the triple jump is 46-11, which broke the previous record (46-2 ¼) set in 1976 by Kyle Jones. The last Shadle record Ford is pursuing is long jump (23-5), set in 1982 by Roby Soo.

Miller believes Ford can establish records that could stand for many years.

Ford was on pace to challenge for a state title in the high jump as a sophomore when he became academically ineligible just before the district meet.

“I had two F’s,” Ford said.

He has since salvaged those credits. But he said part of his struggle at the time was the fact that he had switched from remedial classes to mainstream classes at the start of second semester. He learned he had to change when he discovered that to qualify academically for an NCAA Division I school he couldn’t be in remedial classes.

Ford said school is a challenge.

“I have a more difficult time learning than others,” Ford said.

It’s been particularly challenging this spring because he’s so close to the end. But he knows he has to finish strong.

“So I’m trying my hardest to get good grades and do what I have to do,” Ford said.

Ford signed a letter of intent to jump at Texas Tech.

“Kobe’s raw natural talent, high-level performances, 6-7 frame and highlight dunking videos have not only excited me, but his entire future training group here at Texas Tech,” Red Raiders coach James Thomas said in a news release following Ford’s signing. “The opportunity to put one of the best in the nation in an already competitive training environment is a coach’s dream. I expect Kobe to continually grow and be highly competitive in multiple jumping events.”