Javen Reeves came into his senior season as an accomplished high jumper. In fact, he was the defending sectional champion.
However, he had never jumped higher than 6-feet, 4-inches in his career.
In 2014, he never went lower than 6-6 — and he went as high as 6-11 3/4 to set a Corydon Sectional record.
On June 7, in his first state finals appearance, Reeves cleared 6-9 and became the second New Albany high jump state champion. He was also the second Bulldog track state champion in the past three years.
“I came into this season with a different mindset,” he said. “Before my sophomore and junior seasons, I came in overconfident even though I really hadn’t done anything. I humbled myself and we changed up my steps and the rest is history.”
During the 2013-14 school year, Reeves worked with high jump specialist Jane Wehmiller on form and meet preparation. The result was obvious from Day 1.
“Jane Wehmiller’s coaching really helped him, “ New Albany head coach Mark Peterson said. “She took him from one level to the next level. I think it was a matter of hard work and good coaching from Jane.”
“My sophomore and junior year I did my own thing,” said Reeves, who was also a first-team All-Hoosier Hills Conference and News and Tribune second-team All-Area basketball player. “Before this season, I talked to [Wehmiller] about potentially getting a scholarship. We worked hard and it paid off.”
Wehmiller said Reeves had the potential to be a state champion all along.
“We started in August and September cleaning up his technique,” she recalled. “He wasn’t playing AAU basketball during track season and that made a huge difference. He was a lot fresher. He had been splitting time the last two years.”
Reeves got the scholarship he was seeking. In the middle of the season, he was approached by Louisville to continue his track and field career as a Cardinal. He will join former Bulldog basketball and track teammate Jermaine Parrish — the 2012 100-meter champion — on the Louisville squad.
“I started hearing from Louisville two weeks before sectional,” he said. “We met up and I signed a week later. They think with the right training and eating habits, I can be an All-American. I want to eventually try out for the Olympics. That’s one of my big goals.”
Reeves had cleared 6-10 prior to sectional, but his near 7-foot leap seemingly came from out of nowhere. He had missed twice at 6-10 but had already clinched the sectional championship, so he asked the high jump director to put the bar at 7 feet. He cleared it, but the bar was later measured a quarter-inch short of 7 feet.
“It sounds way different,” Reeves said of the quarter-inch mistake, “but I’ll eventually get it. It was kind of disappointing, but I broke a record.”
“I think it was the scream heard around Corydon,” Wehmiller said of her reaction to his near-7 foot clearance. “He just had one attempt at it. I had confidence that he could do it, but it was incredible that he did it in one shot.”
After a disappointing runner-up finish in the regional, Reeves regrouped to edge out Warren Central’s Jarrell Dennis for the state title. Both cleared 6-9 but Reeves did it in fewer jumps to take the title. When Dennis missed on his final attempt at 6-10, Reeves said he wasn’t sure where they two stood.
“I thought we had tied at first,” he recalled. “Then [the high jump official] came up to me and said I was the state champion. He said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the 2014 high jump state champion — and I went over and hugged my coach. It was a great accomplishment. Not too many people win state.”
“It was wonderful. What a wonderful surprise,” said Peterson, who was an assistant varsity coach for 12 years following several years as the head coach at Scribner. “This is my final year after 50 years in track and it’s quite an honor [to coach a state champion]. What a wonderful experience.”
BOYS’ TRACK AND FIELD ALL-AREA TEAM
Javen Reeves, New Albany senior (high jump) — Boys’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year
Chase Blakeman, Floyd Central junior (hurdles)
Grant Foster, Floyd Central senior (hurdles)
Spencer Harris, Silver Creek junior (throws)
Schuyler Hosp, Silver Creek senior (throws)
Gaige Klingsmith, Floyd Central junior (sprints)
Julien Magallanes, Borden sophomore (distance)
Jacob Marguet, Floyd Central senior (pole vault)
Guy Oliver, Jeffersonville junior (sprints/jumps)
Marquise Parrish, Clarksville senior (sprints/long jump)
Tuwan Payton, New Albany senior (sprints)
Antonio Villegas, Floyd Central freshman (sprints/jumps)
Adam Wallace, Floyd Central junior (middle distance)
Tim Baumgart, New Albany freshman (distance)
Isaiah Blanton, Jeffersonville senior (sprints)
Morgan Davidson, Silver Creek junior (middle distance)
Tanner Coots, Silver Creek junior (distance)
DeShaun Daugherty, Jeffersonville junior (hurdles)
Jacob Hedrick, Henryville junior (distance)
Seth Jenkins, Floyd Central senior (sprints)
Zack Lewis, Floyd Central senior (sprints)
Aaron Mast, Borden junior (throws)
David Morales, Jeffersonville senior (sprints)
Jared Rafferty, Borden senior (pole vault)
Grant Reynolds, Floyd Central senior (distance)
Brett Williams, Borden junior (throws)
Reggie Bailey, Rock Creek; Garrett Braun, Providence; Bryce Conn, Jeffersonville; Eli Daniel, Charlestown; Trent Farley, Silver Creek; Seth Farris, New Albany; Mike Hall, Eastern; Alec Heitz, Floyd Central; Isaiah Hickman, New Albany; Dakota Jackson, Eastern; Dalton Jackson, Eastern; Dontrez Jessup, Rock Creek; Maxwell Mattox, New Albany; Brian McGee, Borden senior; Khalil McDaniel, Eastern; Tyler Olsen, Charlestown; Lincoln Ottersbach, Providence senior; Josh Ratts, Eastern; Rocco Renton, Floyd Central; Isaiah Salazar, Jeffersonville; Damin Smith, Jeffersonville; Cameron Stephens, Silver Creek; Keaton Spitler, Providence; Reese Tarr, Floyd Central; Brennan Thompson, Silver Creek; Jacob Timmons, Eastern; George Tipker, Borden; Logan Vaughn, Floyd Central; Andrew Westfall, Silver Creek.