By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002
Kevin Marion set the state long jump record with a leap that was perfect in many ways.
The Dixie Hollins junior took off with the shadow of his toe just behind the scratch line and jumped so high he performed his hitch kick and got his legs out in front while he was still above the pit.
Marion was not aided by wind as he descended, and when his heels hit squarely in the sand, he left a lasting imprint on the 100 or so spectators who witnessed it.
Already owning the nation's best mark (25 feet), Marion surpassed it by 5 inches on his record-setting jump. So it was understandable when Marion bypassed his final two attempts and left his place in history with one marvelous jump.
Marion has a firm grasp on just how special it was to eclipse the previous state record of 25-2 set by Admiral Farragut Academy's Ed Manderson in 1986. That's why he won't guarantee another record-setting performance when he competes at the Golden South Meet in Orlando on Saturday, his first meet since his record-breaking jump.
"I want to jump past 25 feet again and hopefully I'll get that chance if I get into a rhythm," said Marion, who also will compete in the 100 and 200 meters. "But right now, all I'm trying to be is consistent."
It has been a busy two weeks since Marion performed at the Class 3A state meet. A two-sport athlete, Marion has split time between track and football. He is a wide receiver with scholarship offers from six schools, including Wisconsin and Wake Forest.
"I like football and give just as much effort in that as I do in track," Marion said.
After football practice, Marion goes to Gibbs to practice with the Lightning Bolt Track club. One of his club teammates is also his closest competitor, Lakewood's Dermillo Wise.
Wise, the 2001 long jump state champion, finished second to Marion at the state meet. Wise made up for the loss by winning the 110 and 300 hurdles and placing third in the triple jump. He scored all of Lakewood's 34 points to help his team finish third overall.
Wise has used the past two weeks to recover from a groin injury. He said he will compete in the long jump, triple jump and 110 hurdles Saturday.
"In big meets like this, I try to do something out of the ordinary," Wise said. "Each time, I try to set another personal record. I want to go 25 feet in the long jump, 48 feet in the triple jump and break 13.7 seconds in the 110 hurdles."
And if Wise happens to go 25 feet?
"I'll just have to go a little bit farther," Marion said.