Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hurdle success no small task for Kelloff

May 11, 2006

When attempting to predict the winner of a hurdles race, track fans usually will pick the taller runner with longer legs. After all, the height advantage is supposed to make it that much easier to clear the hurdles.

Lansing High's track meets are no different. The hurdler of choice tends to be a taller athlete. What catches spectators off guard, though, is the short guy right on the leader's heels.

That short guy is LHS sophomore Nick Kelloff. At about 5-foot-6, Kelloff doesn't look like a hurdler. He doesn't have any of the natural attributes of a hurdler other than his footspeed.

Still, he always seems to be in the thick of things. That was the case Thursday at the Piper Relays when Kelloff placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles.

In fact, Kelloff has placed in the top six in almost every race he's run this season. That puts him among the team's most consistent performers.

At Piper, Kelloff set a personal best in the 300 hurdles in 43.34 seconds. He set a personal record in his preliminary race of the 110's when he clocked a 17.44.

"It's been great because last year I was running about ninth," Kelloff said of his progression from his freshman to sophomore seasons. "I'm only a sophomore. I'm supposed to grow and get stronger, so I'm saying by the time my senior year gets here I'll be looking great."

Plus, Kelloff was quick to point out, the runners beating him all are older.

"They're all seniors," he said. "They'll be gone next year."

That potentially could make Kelloff one of the top hurdlers in the area next season - especially if he hits a growth spurt.

"If I just get taller I'll be so much better at it," he said. "I look at it and I realize that the low hurdles come up to about my waist and the high hurdles come up to about the middle of my chest."

So how exactly does he make up for being vertically challenged in a race where height usually reigns supreme.

"I just run like I'm going to run a normal race," he said. "My body realizes there's something in the way, and I just jump over it. There's a lot of memory reflex involved."

As much progress as Kelloff has made this season, he said qualifying for state probably isn't a realistic goal.

"My goal is next year," he said, pointing out that last year's regional and state champion, Jared Huske of Highland Park, wasn't very tall. "I know he wasn't much taller than me."

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