Hymel raising the bar to next level

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / May 13, 2000

LAPLACE – With a history of success dating back over the last two decades, Riverside high jumpers have literally and figuratively raised the bar in the event.

Richie Hymel raised it even more this season.

In his senior season, Hymel captured the high jump title at both the District 9-2A and Region 3-2A meets, setting a school record along the way. He wenton to place fourth at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Outdoor Track and Field Meet last week at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium.

Hymel will now be getting used to competing on a collegiate track after receiving a track scholarship from the University of New Orleans this week.

He will compete in both the high jump and the hurdles with the Privateers.

Hymel said his tuition has already been covered by the TOPS program and that the track scholarship will cover all his other fees.

Hymel competed in track for four years at Riverside but started in the high jump this season. He was jumping in practice early in the year when Riversidecoach John White asked him to try it in competition.

“I tried it and I did pretty good,” Hymel said, adding that all the years he jumped on the trampoline at his home helped out.

Hymel continued to raise his heights throughout the season, culminating in a record-setting performance at the District 9-2A meet at West St. John April19. He kept clearing the bar until he got to six feet, 82.5 inches. On his thirdattempt, Hymel cleared it, breaking the school record of 6-8 set by Quinton Terrio at the USL Meet in 1997. Hymel would go on to clear 6-9, winning thedistrict title and setting what is believed to be the West St. John trackrecord.

“It feels wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” Hymel said that day. “Thepressure and competition helped me.”Hymel kept it up at the Region 3-2A meet a week later, again at West St.

John. Hymel cleared 6-4 to capture the regional title and qualify for thestate meet. There, he again jumped 6-4 to place fourth behindWestminster’s Barrett Olivier’s state winning jump of 6-8.

Hymel also placed third in the 110-meter hurdles in district and sixth at regionals.

In addition to running track, Hymel also played football for four years at Riverside, where he was a defensive end and the wedge buster on special teams.

“It kept me disciplined and kept me in shape,” Hymel said of playing sports in high school. “It was hard at times but it all paid off in the end.”Hymel said he needs to get his legs stronger and work on his form before he competes on the college level. He said the UNO coaches want him to competein a summer league this summer and he is also competing at a national tournament in North Carolina in June.

“It’s going to be a different experience,” Hymel said.

White believes Hymel will do quite nicely at the next level.

“UNO is getting a quality student and a quality athlete,” White said. “Theyare getting a kid they don’t have to worry about for four years for school and in track. I feel he is going to do really well. I believe he can go higher.”

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