Tallmadge high jumper Riley Murphy continues to impress

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
In this file photo, Tallmadge's Riley Murphy clears 6 feet, 4 inches in the Division II high jump event to tie for seventh place in the 2019 state meet.

Riley Murphy was not only a state qualifier but a state placer in the high jump two years ago when he was just a freshman at Tallmadge.

Now a junior, Murphy is continuing to impress his coach.

“Riley definitely has a shot to get back to state and do well,” Blue Devils head coach Mike Srodawa said. “We’ve got some stuff to iron out, though. He knows there are certain little things we need to work on. He definitely has the ability to even win state.”

According to Srodawa, Murphy’s attitude and personality fit the high jump event perfectly.

“Riley is kind of laid back,” he said. “He doesn’t get too upset when things aren’t going right. He’s analytical. He definitely thinks about what he needs to change with his approach. He can see it when we watch him on video.”

Murphy’s latest exploits in the high jump came April 17 when he won the event with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches at the Orrville Invitational.

He also captured the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.1 seconds and was part of the winning 400 relay (45.5) and 800 relay (1:34.6), the latter of which he was the anchor.

“That’s huge when you can go to an invitational and win four events,” said Srodawa. “He’s put in a lot of work, especially in his favorite event, the high jump. For the sprint events, I don’t think, if you would’ve asked him at the beginning of the season, that he thought he was going to be as good of a sprinter as he’s turned out to be, but he definitely is a huge part of that group.”

Overall, Tallmadge won the eight-team meet with 160.5 points. Dalton finished second with 119 points and Lodi Cloverleaf was third with 88 points.

Three days later, on April 20, Murphy won the high jump with a leap of 6-3 that helped the Blue Devils to a 109-28 home victory over Suburban League American Conference rival Kent Roosevelt. Tallmadge improved to 3-0 on the season.

Murphy, who has had several colleges contact him already, was also part of the winning 400-meter relay team (45.25) and 800 relay (1:33.87), the latter of which he was the anchor.

“Riley performed well,” the coach said. “With the cold temperatures, jumping and sprinting can be affected, and times aren’t going to be as fast and you aren’t going to jump as high. He did really well, though.

“Every meet we’ve gone to, Riley has won the high jump. He’s been part of relay teams that have performed really well. So it’s been a lot of fun.”

As for the Tallmadge girls track and field team, senior Vanessa Dao set two personal bests in the Blue Devils’ 86-51 win over Kent Roosevelt that improved their record to 2-1. She had a throw of 29-7 in the shot put and 89 in the discus.

“Vanessa had a really good meet. Things just clicked for her,” said Srodawa, also the girls head coach. “With the field events, a lot of it is just getting the technique correct. She even said that that night was her night.”

At the Orrville Invitational, Dao tossed the shot put 28-1 and the discus 69-.5.

Overall, Tallmadge finished fifth out of eight teams with 87.5 points. Norwayne won the meet with 126 points. Cloverleaf finished second with 101 points and Dalton was third with 100 points.

According to Srodawa, Dao is thrilled that there is actually a season this year after last season was wiped away by COVID-19.

“Vanessa worked hard with lifting over the winter and with foot skills and that type of thing as far as quickness goes. She’s definitely put in the work,” he said. “She’s always been a good discus thrower, but her shot put has definitely come around.”

Dao is not only a team leader when it comes to the throwing events but when it comes to everything about the team.

“She’s one of the biggest supporters of everybody on the team,” said the coach.

Srodawa believes that Dao can eclipse the 100-feet mark in the discus before the season is done.

“That would place her in the top five in the American Conference,” he said. “If she throws over 100 feet, there’s definitely an opportunity for her to make it to regionals.”