116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Things are happening fast for Prosper Kapongo.
“I just got off the phone with Iowa Western (Community College),” he said at track and field practice Monday afternoon.
“They saw the video. They saw the potential. They have a great program. I think they can get me to a Division-I school.”
That video. It came Thursday night, from KWWL-TV’s Mark Woodley. The picture, it came from The Gazette’s Jim Slosiarek.
Both caught Kapongo — a senior at Cedar Rapids Jefferson — during the high-jump competition of a Class 4A state-qualifying meet.
Kapongo cleared 6 feet, 3 inches, enough to get him to state (the 4A high jump is 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines). But it wasn’t how high he jumped.
It was how he did it.
Instead of the common Fosbury Flop, Kapongo used the scissors technique. Instead of landing on his back, he merely approached the bar and, well, jumped it.
Right leg over. Left leg over. He stuck the landing.
The scissors technique — the official name is Eastern Cutoff Scissors — was the “in thing” once upon a time, long, long ago ... from 1892 to 1912.
So Kapongo is old-school, and then some.
“We’ve been working on the flop. He knows how to flop,” Jefferson Coach Chris Buesing said. “He just doesn’t have enough experience with it.”
He has more experience with the scissors. And more confidence.
Thursday, he flopped at 5-8 (opening height) and made it. Then he flopped at 5-10 and missed.
“He missed at 5-10, and he got a little nervous,” said Jefferson assistant Emily Thomson, who works with the jumping crew.
Back to the scissors. And Kapongo advanced at 5-10, 6-0, 6-2 and 6-3.
There was no big celebration after clearance. He just nonchalantly stepped off the mat.
“Maybe I made it look too easy,” he said. “I was really psyched in my head, but I couldn’t show it.”
The high jump is one of four events in which Kapongo will compete throughout the next three days.
He is seeded fifth in the long jump (22 feet, 0 3/4 inches) and is on two quality relays — the 400-meter relay (43.20 seconds) is ranked 13th; the 800-meter unit (1:30.06) is No. 5.
“I hope to place,” he said. “I want us to be competitive. I think we’ve kind of been slept on.”
Kapongo is a three-sport athlete. He was a two-way performer in football and participated in basketball. It was in the latter that his vertical jump was measured at 40 inches.
Track, though ... that’s seems to be his forte. And he’s more than just a high-jump novelty. He knows that though the scissors technique has served him well and has gotten him attention, he’ll have to figure out the flop in college if he wants to continue to develop.
“The scissors can only take me so far,” Kapongo said.
Buesing said, “Some college coach is going to be excited to get their hands on him. He’s got so much raw talent.
“He’s going to be something.”