Prep Track and Field

Blair Brooks leaps higher and longer than most

Marion star swept the 3A jumps at state last year

Marion's Blair Brooks celebrates a successful jump during the Class 3A high jump at the 2017 state track and field meet. Brooks cleared 6 feet, 7 inches, and won the event. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Marion's Blair Brooks celebrates a successful jump during the Class 3A high jump at the 2017 state track and field meet. Brooks cleared 6 feet, 7 inches, and won the event. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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MARION — Vertical or horizontal, Blair Brooks has it covered.

The high jump is an event of grace, strength and flexibility. The long jump, an event of power and speed.

Brooks excels at both.

“He’s got the speed that’s necessary to be successful in the long jump. And he’s got that spring to make it work in the high jump,” said Chad Zrudsky, boys’ track and field coach at Marion High School.

Brooks swept the Class 3A championships in both jumping events at last year’s state meet. He cleared 6 feet, 7 inches and won the high jump based on fewer misses. The next day, he sailed 22-7 1/2 in the long jump, outdistancing the field by 4 1/2 inches.

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In all, Brooks was responsible for 27.5 points (he was third in the 110-meter high hurdles and ran on the third-place 800-meter relay), and that vaulted the Indians to the 3A team title.

The jumps are two different events, with two different approaches.

“But they’re both related,” Brooks said. “There’s so much visualization involved. Then you trust your body to try to pop off a good jump every time.”

Brooks’ media-related genes have been well documented. He is the grandson of the late Bob Brooks, iconic sports radio broadcaster in Cedar Rapids for decades.

He inherited athletic ability, too.

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“I’m going to get in trouble if I don’t say it came from my parents,” he chuckled.

Brooks’ father, Rob, competed in football, basketball and golf at Cedar Rapids Washington. His mother, Sue, played basketball and softball at Grand View University, then transferred to Iowa, where she continued her softball career.

Blair stands 6-foot-3, with his weight varying between 180 pounds during track season and 185 during football. He will participate in both sports at Iowa.

“An athlete like him doesn’t come around every day,” Zrudsky said. “He’s got really good fast-twitch muscles. There’s a lot of raw athletic ability there, and he spends a lot of time fine-tuning it.”

With success, ego sometimes follows. And make no mistake, Brooks doesn’t lack confidence. But it’s a healthy confidence, not excessive.

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“That’s what makes him such a joy,” Zrudsky said. “Blair is pretty grounded. Success can go to a teenager’s head pretty quickly, but it hasn’t with him.”

So what will Brooks’ program consist of this spring? The high jump and long jump, for sure. The high hurdles, yeah. And what else?

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The shuttle hurdle relay is a possibility, but, as Zrudsky said, “There are 48 things that can go wrong there, so that’s pretty risky.”

It could be a sprint relay again. Brooks is open to trying the 400-meter hurdles.

“We’ll kind of pick and choose and play around with that fourth event,” he said.

Maximizing points in May is the priority. Even with the departure of distance ace Myles Bach (the two-time defending state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 transferred to Center Point-Urbana for his senior season), Marion returns 44 of 69 state-meet points and is among the 3A favorites again.

“We’ll go with whatever makes Blair comfortable, and we’ll go with whatever gives us the most opportunity to score the most points,” Zrudsky said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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