Poise and concentration are going to be vital for Mike Dittenber in his bid to quarterback the Carson High School football team's veer offense in the future. The same will be true on Saturday for the Senators' sophomore in his bid to win a medal in the boys high jump at the Northern 4A Regional Track and Field Championships in Sparks.
Dittenber, who established himself as one of the top high jumpers in school history last week with a 6-foot, 5-inch clearance at the Sierra League meet, will be part of a contingent of 27 Carson boys and girls competing in the regional finals at Reed High School. Competition begins with the field events at 8:30 a.m. and the 4x800 relay starting off the track schedule at 9 o'clock.
The top five finishers in each event qualify for the NIAA/U.S. Bank State Championships next Friday and Saturday at Reed. Dittenber would like to be one of those qualifiers and he is hoping to improve on his first-place performance at the Sierra League meet last Saturday at Carson's Jim Frank Track and Field Complex.
"The school record is 6-7, so I will be trying to go for that," Dittenber said. "I could have had 6-6 on Saturday, I barely touched it and the bar rolled off.."
The regional boys high jump figures to be a close competition with Nate Meckley and Justin Houk of Galena, Cody Fleming of Reed and Dittenber being the leading contenders. Meckley cleared 6-6 to win at the High Desert League meet last Saturday.
"It should be a good competition," Carson coach Todd Ackerman said. "If he could match that (6-5), he could shake some things up, especially if can hit 6-5 on his first jump."
Dittenber cleared his first attempt at 6-5 last Saturday.
"I didn't come close to it (the bar). I was pretty happy with that," Dittenber said.
Coach Shane Quilling wasn't surprised to see him jump like that.
"I'm not surprised he did it," Quilling said. "The potential is there. He's got great springs and his form is actually good."
Dittenber cleared 6-3 in his season-opening meet in March, but then his progress was slowed by illness and an injury. At the same time, he was also working on his mental approach.
"I try to stay calm. You don't want to think too much about what you're doing. You want to be relaxed," Dittenber said.
"The high jump is such a mental event. You've got to have physical ability, but If you're thinking about too many things you're not going to jump very well," Quilling added.
There are similarities to the high jump and playing quarterback in football, which Dittenber played for the Carson J.V. squad last fall.
"There's a direct correlation, and it's true in most sports. If you get to thinking about too many things, you can't do the things that you're supposed to be doing," Quilling said. "You have to be able to concentrate on what you need to concentrate on instead of trying to do too much. You've got to have two or three options and boom, that's it. You can't be thinking about fifth and sixth options because you'll never make it."
Frank Bleuss, who will be a senior next year, has the inside track to start at varsity quarterback this coming fall, but Dittenber may well contribute.
"He's only going to get stronger and faster and a little bigger so he's going to help our program," Quilling said. "If he can't help us at quarterback this year, I think we can find some place for him. We're looking for some great things down the road."
Perhaps as soon as Saturday in the high jump pit.