Sunday, April 07, 2002

Mumper jumps for good measure

By Shannon Russell,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Wittenberg University sophomore Kristen Mumper has no qualms about her height. She is, in a word, short.

        Her petite frame has never been a problem when running sprints or relays, nor has it interfered with cheerleading for the Tigers football and basketball teams. But when she ambles over to the triple jump pit at track meets, her stature warrants a few stares.

        “I'm usually the shortest one (competing). I guess the others might think I'm not very good because of it,” Mumper said. “I think I surprise them.”

Kristen Mumper
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        Poised among long-legged, lithe long jumpers, Mumper takes her mark. With the event's trademark hop, skip and jump, she covers a distance more than seven times her height, frequently landing in the top of the standings.

        Mumper owns the Wittenberg triple jump records in indoor and outdoor track and has rewritten school standards five times since February. Most recently she reset the outdoor record with a personal-best 36-foot, 8 1/4-inch, second-place jump at the University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawk Relays March 16-17.

        Not bad for someone who's only 5 feet 1.

        “A taller jumper obviously has an advantage because of longer legs,” Wittenberg track coach Steve Shutt said. “Kristen has an advantage because of her speed. She's our fastest athlete — an explosive athlete.”

        Mumper, a 2000 Purcell Marian graduate, didn't participate in a field event until she reached college. A four-year high school regional qualifier in sprint events, she planned to continue the tradition at Wittenberg until Shutt persuaded her to try to long jump. Triple jumping not only came next, it came surprisingly naturally.

        In fact, the hardest part of the event was explaining it to friends and family.

        “In high school we didn't have triple jump, but I knew what it was from summer meets. I thought it was something I wanted to try,” Mumper said. “When I go home it's kind of hard, because people who haven't seen it don't know what it is.”

        Mumper explains it this way: She starts at a distance of about 105 feet with a running approach. First is the hop, a takeoff and landing on the same foot, then a step, or a takeoff from one foot and landing on the other. Her finale is a jump in the sand pit.

        “She's picked up the event very quickly and is improving consistently, which is great,” Shutt said. “She's so used to doing well, she gets frustrated when she doesn't improve.”

        The week after Mumper broke the outdoor record in North Carolina, she won the triple jump at a Defiance College meet. The Tigers are less than halfway through their spring schedule, and Mumper already is working on an NCAA-qualifying jump for the May 23 championships.

        Mumper hasn't discounted possibilities in long jump or running events, either. She set a personal best in long jump (17 feet, 3 inches) in North Carolina. She alternately competes in the 100 meters, 200, 4-x-100 relay and 4-x-400 relay. Mumper is also part of two record-holding Wittenberg indoor track relay teams. The 4-x-400 relay team cruised to a record 4:10.64 finish in 2001, as did the distance medley relay team (12:22.27). She set the indoor triple jump school record (35 feet, 7 3/4 inches) in March.

        The achievements have more to do with her mental focus than her height, Mumper said. She wouldn't mind having a few extra inches, but she's not convinced it could take the place of her speed and intensity.

        “Every time I jump farther, I just want to train harder,” she said. “Right now I'd just like to break 37 feet in the triple jump and make it to nationals.”


        Robyn Swedersky (Northwest), a sophomore at Salem International University, was named the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week after leading the softball team to three wins in three starts.

        Marymount junior Brandon Sallee (Moeller) set the men's lacrosse goal-scoring career mark with five goals against St. Mary's College. Sallee has scored 120 career goals, with 34 goals in 10 games this season, surpassing former record-holder Kevin Mahoney's 119 career goals from 1993-1996.

        Baldwin-Wallace sophomore Chris Clukey (Mariemont) placed third in the 400 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay at the OAC Swimming and Diving Championships. Clukey was seventh in the 100 freestyle.

        Miami University junior Eric Phipps was named the Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Week after helping the RedHawks to ninth place in the Johnny Owens Invitational. Phipps tied for 11th at 2 over par with a three-round sum of 215.

        Sarah Drewes (Colerain), a sophomore tennis player at the College of Wooster, is 2-2 at No. 3 singles and 1-0 at No. 4.


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