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Lost season reveals strength in Coal Ridge standout Marin Simons

Coal Ridge’s Marin Simons didn’t let shoulder surgery and COVID-19 stop her from working on her track events including high jump. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hedberg Photography

Coal Ridge track coach Ben Kirk hadn’t seen anything like soon-to-be-senior, Marin Simons.

She came to him, fresh off a freshman year in which she set the high school’s high jump record at 5’1”, with a request: Let me bring the high jump pit to my house in the offseason.

The result was a 5’3” jump, just recently, during what would’ve been her junior season and a continuance of a seldom-seen work ethic.

Simons maintains her goal of competing in college, hopefully for the University of Utah if things break the right way. To get there, she hopes to jump “at least 5’6”” in her senior campaign next school year to take home a state title.

Kirk had spent days watching Simons off to the side of football or cross country practice, by herself, jumping over and over again.

“We had a conversation and I said, ‘Well, if you’re not doing (any other sports), you better be training every single day,’” Kirk said. “And most high school athletes go, ‘Oh yeah, of course I will.’ After a couple of weeks, that stops. Every single day after school, she would go out and high jump until the weather got so bad that they took the pits to their house and she did the same thing.

“Her dedication to it was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before – Every single day for like two hours, she’d go out and she’d run. And she would work out that she jumped by herself.”

Simons wasn’t a track fiend entering high school. She’d dabbled in several other sports with moderate success, even in her first year of high school. Once the record was set, and her events ended on the podium, she attached to track and field.

“I feel like maybe she had struggled a little bit to fit in (to a sport),” Simons’ mom Ashlee said. “She had tried different sports and hadn’t really succeeded. Then she goes to do track and it was that day in Hotchkiss (and it was) just awesome that she had found something that she could feel the thrill of being first.

“It just gave her new life. She became really dedicated to track. And she became really excited and it really changed who she was.”

The Hotchkiss Invitational was when things changed for Marin. Her second-place finish changed her mindset from having fun to truly working and competing for a state title and a college scholarship.

She finished 6th at the CHSAA 3A State Championships her freshman year. Last year, she finished in a four-way tie for 3rd.

Coal Ridge’s Marin Simons didn’t let shoulder surgery and COVID-19 stop her from working on her track events including high jump.
Marin Simons

Through competition and training, Marin sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery. The rehab and lack of training available cost her a chance at further improvement before her sophomore year.

“It’s not so much the shoulder that kind of affected me,” Marin said. “When you’re not working out for eight weeks, you lose muscle. So I had to go and rebuild all the muscles everywhere.”

A canceled season due to COVID-19 didn’t stop Marin either. Instead of finishing her junior season, she’s gone through track events by herself. Her mom records them and keeps track of her progress.

For her, watching Marin keep such a work ethic in a sport with such gradual success has been eye-opening.

“Failure is just a part of life, right?” Ashlee said. “That is one thing in high jump, it’s really difficult because no matter who you are, you knock the bar off at some point. At some point, you can’t jump any higher and you have to turn around and walk away and begin again.

“I think that that is a crazy metaphor for life – sometimes you fail multiple times before you achieve something.”

For now, she’s merely showing teammates and classmates exactly how to avoid cheating the sport.

“I think it’s something that, as a program, you will always reflect back on and our kids will remember her,” Kirk said. “She’ll have a record for a long time – hopefully we’ll get her picture up in the school as a state champion. I think those kinds of examples are huge and the other kids on the team notice it too.”

lzahlmann@postindependent.com


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