Leap of faith

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Newcomer Ratliff has been pleasant jumping surprise for Anderson track and field

By John Herndon

Now, those closest to Ryan Ratliff have solved a bit of the question about one of his favorite activities as a young child: Why did he love constantly jumping from couch to couch in his family’s house?


The Anderson County High School junior just laughs about the story from his childhood, but in his first season of track and field, Ratliff’s performance has been something to smile about. On a team that already had one of the favorites to win the state high jump in senior Jordan Sloan, Ratliff has emerged as another contender and has been strong in the long jump and as a member of the 4x200-meter relay team.

In the team’s recent meet at LaRue County on April 3, Ratliff and Sloan tied for third place in the high jump at 6-feet-2 inches. The meet featured the state’s best jump of the year, a 6-6 leap from Warren Central’s Donavan Halsel.

As a team, Anderson finished ninth out of 16 teams.

“I am learning from Jordan,” Ratliff said last week. “Right now, my biggest problem is form. Jordan has near-perfect form. He just slithers over the bar.

“Jordan has helped me a lot. He knows what he is doing.”

Earlier this year, Ratliff teamed with Jayson Barnes, Chris Misheff and Ryan McGregor to give the Bearcat boys’ 4x200-meter relay team a win at the Woodford County All-Comers.

Ratliff has played basketball all his life, loving to camp on the 3-point line, where he can unleash a nice jump shot. He started on the junior varsity team last season, but had never been on the track until approached by coach Robert Meacham.

“Mr. Meacham mentioned it in basketball season. I told him basketball came first but I said I would give it a try,” Ratliff said. “It’s something else to do beside basketball.”

Since then, his best high jump has been 6-2, which is among the best in the state, but two inches behind Sloan’s best. In the long jump, Ratliff has gone 19 feet, but was at 16-08 at Larue. “Right now, my goal is to make the state. Jordan is the best, I think. There is not anybody better to learn from. (High jumping) is more technique than anything.”

Like many athletes, Ratliff’s only exposure to the sport had been every four years, when the Olympics were televised. “That was the only time other than if Usain Bolt was running,” Ratliff said with a laugh.

Early in the season, Ratliff has been just one of several strong performers that have made Meacham’s first year at the helm an enjoyable one. Ratliff says that is a two-way street, however.

“Track is [more fun] than I thought it would be,” Ratliff says. “Coach Meacham and coach (Derek) Skaggs (the jumpers’ coach) make it fun.

“It has been a fun year so far.”

Also at LaRue, the Anderson girls’ 4x800-meter relay team roared to a win against a strong field. Madison Carter joined Maggie Conley, Courtney Drury and Tori Yeaste to take first place with a 10:45.35.

Like most of the rest of the Anderson team, Carter felt she was not in her top form, but the time was good enough to score a victory.

“I didn’t do my best, but I didn’t do my worst either,” Carter said. “Coach (Meacham) made me run the 4x800 relay and we ended up taking first place!”

As a team, Anderson finished seventh out of 15 girls’ teams.

Conley, who is becoming a very strong middle distance runner, had a noteworthy showing, placing second in the 800-meter run with a 2:33.66

Carter, who qualified for the state last year in two events, says things are going well for the Bearcats, who will be facing a stiff test Saturday in the Heart of the Bluegrass meet at Henry Clay.

“The season is going pretty good so far but there is still lots of room for improvement,” she said.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.