Coopersville sophomore high jumper turns heads in first varsity meet

Luke Stanton admitted he was a little disappointed with how successful his first college athletic meet was in high school.

The Coopersville sophomore jumper cleared 6-foot-2 in the Broncos’ 81-54 win over Fruitport on April 12 at home, and he wasn’t too impressed with his results.

“I felt like I could have gone higher,” Stanton said. “It was good to have 6-2, but I would have liked to have had 6-4.”

Broncos coach Jeremy Annen had a word with him afterward, however.

“I told him 6-2 almost places in the state every year,” Annen said. “He’s a sophomore who’s never raced track, and he’s like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Yes, that would be all states.’

Stanton’s jump would have tied him for third overall in the event in last year’s Division 2 state championship meet, so it’s easy to see why the Broncos are thrilled to have an athlete with no previous experience who went 6-2 in his first meeting. The brand would also have placed him in the top 10 at state in the other three divisions as well.

The Broncos had an indoor meeting at Grand Valley State University before spring break, and Stanton performed well. But Annen said Stanton exceeded expectations in last week’s opener, adding that a 5-8 or 5-10 would have been a solid showing for him.

Stanton tried his hand at track in sixth grade, which matches the breadth of his experience in track and field. But the Broncos were impressed with his potential a year ago when he wasn’t even on the team.

“A lot of students came to me last year and said Luke could jump and dive two hands right under the hoops,” Annen said. “I asked him why you don’t come here and you’ll see if you can jump well. He went out and wore tennis shoes as the season was almost over. We were preparing for the state.

“I put the bar at 5-4 to see if he could actually do it. He jumped 5-4. I was like, ‘OK, let’s try 5-6.’ We got to 6ft and his hips were way over the top. I could tell. You only have to see a kid jump once to know. I told him you might want to jump high next year. That might end up being your best sport.

Stanton has had his challenges in his athletic career. He tore his two MCLs in a dirt bike racing accident in the summer of 2020 before the start of his freshman year. But Stanton has come back strong and is now a tri-sport athlete as he also competes in football and basketball.

The Broncos are eager to see what he does next. Coopersville will be back Thursday at Allendale.

“He lifts hard, he’s flexible, fast and he’s strong,” Annen said. “You never know what’s going to happen. With show jumping sports, you never know how their legs and knees are going to hold up. Sometimes if you overcoach that stuff, it goes really bad. So I tried to shut up. We’ll see how he jumps when the weather warms up.

Stanton said he will continue to perfect his technique. Don’t be surprised to see Stanton appear in the long jump this spring, either.

“We’re going to try to make it jump long because you never know when you have a kid that’s big and strong and fast and jumps that high, he might jump that far too,” Annen said.

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