The importance of the POP

Platte County junior long jumper Shelley Laures had to think about it for a few seconds. But when she was asked what the most important part of a successful long jump is, she was fairly demonstrative. “I’m focused on really pumping my arms,” she said, as her arms began to move. “Then, it’s getting a really good pop.” When she was asked if pop meant launch, Laures nodded. “Yeah, launch,” she said. “You have to be really aggressive and fling your arms out there and forward.” Laures has been aggressive and then some this season, winning numerous medals in both the long jump and high jumps and a few running events for the Pirates’ track team. She etched her name into the Platte County High School record book last week when she jumped 16-feet, 11.25-inches and won the event at the Suburban Conference Blue Division meet at Staley High School. That leap was longer than any female wearing a Pirates uniform had long jumped in 35 years. The previous record long jump for a PCHS girl – 16-10 – was set by Jackie Cundiff in 1979. “That is really impressive that the record held up for so long,” Laures said. “That makes me even prouder to have broken it.” Laures said she broke the record on her sixth and final jump at the conference meet. Her first jump was 15-7 and she continued to climb from there. Her second was 16-1 and her third was 16-3, a personal record for her. The fourth jump stretched to 16-4 and the fifth reached 16-9.5. “That one was only a half inch away from the record, so I thought I really had a shot at it,” she said. Then came the decisive sixth jump and a new PCHS record. “I usually always start a little slow then jump better towards the end,” said Laures, who didn’t start to seriously long jump until last year, when she was a sophomore. Platte County track coach Gabe Middleton said Laures’ success is no accident. “It is no surprise to me that Shelley is breaking records,” he said. “Good things happen to athletes when they do the right thing and push themselves. All the clichés coaches like to use about how hard work, dedication, not getting in trouble at school, doing things the right way, etc. – Shelley proves every one. She is an absolute joy to coach, a hard worker, great teammate and leader and an even better person.  True example of hard work and dedication paying off.” Laures said she owes a lot to Platte County assistant coach Chris Stubbs, who “knows a lot and is able to see when I’m doing something wrong and how to fix it.” She also said she wants to jump even further. “My new goal is 17 feet,” she said. “Plus, I want to win a medal at state.” Laures qualified for the state meet in the long jump last year, but did not medal. She will compete in the first step of the state-qualifying process on May 17 when the Pirates track teams travel to Chillicothe for the 16-team Class 4 District 8 meet, where the top four finishers in each event move on to the sectional meet, set for May 24 at Excelsior Springs. Laures will also compete in the high jump, which she also won at the conference meet, and the 800 and 1,600 relays. Other PCHS runners on those relays include Gabby Robinson, Lauren Huggins and Rachel Gilbert. The group took third in the 1,600 relay and fifth in the 800 relay at the conference meet. Platte County’s boys had several second-place finishes at the conference meet. Kevin Schultz took second in the 800, Nathan Straubel took second in the 3,200, Jordan Branson took second in the long jump and the 1,600 relay team of Mateo Tanis, Josh Stephens, Schultz and Aaron Brown took second.