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Instead of playing baseball as his spring sport, La Salle-Peru senior Logan Zeman chose to do track and field because of his love for the high jump. He concentrated on the event throughout high school, and he capped his prep athletic career with a state championship. Zeman will continue jumping next year at Illinois State University. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
In high school sports it is hard for an athlete to decide which sport should garner the most attention.
Well, most of the time.
La Salle-Peru graduate Logan Zeman knew what he wanted to do since shortly after the eighth grade — track and field.
Zeman started high jumping in the sixth grade at Washington School and didn’t stop when he went to Parkside for eighth grade.
Something came with Zeman when he set out for La Salle-Peru — an IESA second-place medal in the high jump.
“I love baseball,” Zeman said. “I’ve played Little League and City League since I was little, but I guess the reason I did track was because I was really good at high jump. I made it to state. That was the only thing I had made it to state in up to eighth grade.
“In baseball, everyone wants to go to state. State is always something someone wants to do. I made it in one sport, so that was the sport I wanted to do well in.”
The multi-sport athlete’s — he was a member of the football and basketball team for L-P — love and devotion for the solo sport embarked him on consecutive Class 2A State Meet trips his freshman and sophomore years.
However, missing state his junior year — when he failed to finish in the top two at sectional or clear the qualifying mark of 6 feet, 3 inches — made him want to concentrate on the high jump even more.
“Truthfully, when it first happened, I was just so upset,” Zeman said. “I was almost to the point where I didn’t want to do (track). I knew I messed up and I was real negative about it. This year, I got over it and decided that was the reason to make it down my last year and just have fun with it. Not making it junior year made it a goal.”
Zeman didn’t only make it to state this year, he jumped off the mat, pumped his fist in the air and ran to coach Marty Makransky and athletic director D’Wayne Bates in celebration as he won the Class 2A high jump state championship with a jump of 6-8.
The state title — the first for L-P since Eric Siebert won the wrestling crown for the 1992-93 season — highlighted a campaign that included tying the L-P record at 6-9, winning the indoor state meet with a jump of 6-8 and winning the Class 2A Mendota Sectional (6-5).
For these accomplishments, Zeman is the 2014 NewsTribune Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“I can’t say enough about how he wanted to compete by losing last year,” second-year L-P coach Marty Makranksy said. “That is something really hard for a young athlete to take. You don’t think you’ll learn by losing but he did. Not making state last year really didn’t sit well with him.”
Makransky can’t only give Zeman praise as a high jumper, but also as a hurdler, a relay runner and a leader.
During his senior year, Zeman was asked to do a little bit of everything.
“I always knew Logan was a very good athlete on the track,” Makransky said. “He would try things for us. He actually did the hurdles at a pretty good pace. I think he did 43 (seconds) this year in the 300 hurdles. He was a sprinter for us on all our relays and then he was also one of our top legs on the 4x4. We just used him as much as we could because he is a special athlete.”
If he wasn’t asked to do a little bit of everything, he was forced to give it all he had.
Fellow L-P senior high jumper and relay runner Carlos Covarrubias said the two would go at it and push each other to the limit in order to better themselves and each other.
“We always tried to out-do each other,” Covarrubias said. “In any drill we were doing, we would try to see who was better at it and see who could come out on top. We were always teasing each other who is better at what.”
If it wasn’t for Makransy adding to his plate or Covarrubias challenging him for it, Zeman was pushing himself to be the best he could be on the track or in the field. With his previous goals destroyed, he had to make new ones.
This time around, it’s on the NCAA Division I scale at Illinois State University.
“I really did fall in love with track. That’s what led me to only doing one sport in college,” Zeman said. “Plus, I would like to focus on one sport. I was thinking about doing football and track at the beginning of my senior year. The more I thought about it, I just want to focus on one sport and get really, really good at that.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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