Rio Mesa long jumper and sprinter Blake Selig is coming into his own as a junior

Blake Selig | © Juan Carlo/VC Star
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© Juan Carlo/VC Star
Rio Mesa High long jumper and sprinter Blake Selig is coming into his own as a junior. Selig is ranked among state and national leaders in his events. © Juan Carlo/VC Star

Blake Selig, at 5-foot-11, 150 pounds, doesn’t exactly radiate a commanding presence.

“Looking at Blake, you wouldn’t know that he’s kind of an elite athlete for his age,” Rio Mesa High track and field coach Brian FitzGerald said. “He’s really thin, he’s wiry and when you tell people that he ran 10.88 (seconds) in the 100 as a sophomore, they’re kind of incredulous about the whole thing.”

Last season, when the team was competing in the Mount Carmel Relays in San Diego, FitzGerald was looking for a movie for the Spartans to take in the night before and they wound up seeing in “How to Train Your Dragon.” In that animated feature, the hero is a young, scrawny, klutzy Viking apprentice.

“Back then I had long hair and I looked exactly like the main character,” Selig said.

“As soon as the thing came on, the protagonist of the movie is this guy named Hiccup,” FitzGerald recalled. “He’s kind of a goofy kid with his hair in his face and everybody was saying ‘Blake, Blake.’ So yeah, we call him Hiccup. That’s kind of his nickname.”

Selig took the whole thing in good fun. The junior has been anything but a hiccup for Rio Mesa, either as a sprinter or a long jumper.

Selig recently had a jump of 22 feet, 11 inches at the Simplot Indoor Games in Pocatello, Idaho, to finish third in the prestigious meet. He was the youngest Rio Mesa boy ever to qualify for the state meet in an individual event when he landed a spot in the long jump last year. However, pain in his back caused Selig to pull out of the event.

He was able to run in the 4×100-meter relay that had a time of 41.15 to finish second, the best state meet showing ever by a Ventura County boys team. Long Beach Poly beat Rio Mesa by four-thousandths of a second. The Spartans’ best mark in the 4×100 last season was 40.69, third best in the nation.

In addition to that and Selig’s 10.88 in the 100, his best wind-legal mark in the long jump is 22-7. Selig was also part of the 4×400 relay team that had the second best mark in county history at 3:14.85.

Selig, needless to say, has gotten serious about the sport, giving up football last season to concentrate on track and field. He said he likes how individual events combine to help his team.

“In football, we can lose a game because maybe someone drops a pass,” he said, “but in track, there’s no excuses and it’s all up to you on how you train and how you perform.”

Although he says he enjoys the teamwork of practicing the relays, Selig thinks his best event is the long jump.

“I’m able to take my speed and my jumping ability and combine them and I’ve just been doing that for a really long time,” he said. “Everything’s starting to come together, all my different techniques that I’ve been working on.”

Complicating that process, however, has been the back pain, which resurfaced recently.

“A couple of weeks ago, I reinjured it in the long jump,” Selig said, “and it’s just things because I’ve been doing the long jump a lot lately and the landing is pounding on that part of my back.”

Selig is dialing back his training somewhat, working on his landing technique and undergoing physical therapy.

FitzGerald thinks the future for Selig, who has been recruited for both jumping and sprinting by such schools as UCLA, may lie in adding the 200 to his repertoire.

“Last year it didn’t fit into our plans for him to run a lot of 200s,” the coach said, “but this year I think probably his best race will be the 200.”

FitzGerald said Selig might be able to break the 22-second mark in the 200, along with 24 feet in the long jump and 10.70 in the 100.

Not bad for a Hiccup.

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