SIDNEY — Trey Everett’s sophomore season in track and field at Bluffton University was nothing short of amazing, culminating with him being named the Heartland Conference Male Field Athlete of the Year.
Over the course of the outdoor season, he took first in the high jump at seven different meets, setting school, meet and stadium records along the way.
But there was one problem — he found he was mostly competing against himself, and because of that, he will move up a division. Everett said Tuesday that he is transferring from Division III Bluffton to Division II University of Findlay for next season.
“I just wanted to challenge myself more,” he said. “I would be jumping against myself.”
That happens when a jumper is clearly in a class by himself. Everett would pass at the opening heights, and by the time the bar was raised to the height he would start at, he was sometimes the only one left in the competition. That’s how good he is.
“I wanted to move up to Division II and challenge myself, and Findlay is one of the premier track programs in the whole country,” Everett said.
A state champion his senior year at Fairlawn, Everett cleared 6-feet, 11-inches twice in the high jump this season for Bluffton, was consistently well over 22 feet in the long jump, and performed well in a new event, the triple jump, setting a new school record the very first time he tried it, and after just one practice. All this from someone who didn’t take up track and field until his junior year in high school.
By then he was wowing fans in basketball with his tremendous leaping ability, thrilling them when he would break away for a two-handed dunk, even though he stands just six-feet tall. He came to realize that his jumping ability would translate into success in track.
He was an NCAA D-II national qualifer in the high jump in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, and earned All-America status during the indoor campaign. By comparison, his 6-11 in the high jump was just two-and-a-half inches under the height cleared by the Big Ten champion this spring, and he would have also made the nationals in D-II.
When Everett stepped on the Bluffton campus, he intended to also play on the men’s basketball team, which he did. But he found that it took too much away from track, so he dropped basketball this past year.
“I think what put me over the top this year, and allowed me to beat the people that beat me last year was how much harder I worked,” he said. “Last year, I played basketball, too, and I missed the outdoor nationals by a quarter of an inch. I felt I had a better chance of being an All-American in track than in basketball.
“I enjoyed basketball a lot,” he added. “It was good cross training, and I met a lot of my current friends through basketball. But it meant a lot to me to be All-American, and just the fact that I could rely on myself and not anyone else.”
He trained hard, as evidenced by the fact that he was forced to sit out a week during the outdoor season because he trained too much. He explained that athletes are only allowed 23 weeks of training and competition, and he was scheduled for 24. So he had to take an unscheduled break.
He said he plans to compete in all three events, the high jump, long jump and triple jump, when he gets to Findlay, but the high jump continues to be his main focus.
“I know I’ll have to work as hard as I did last year,” he said. “I improved three inches this spring over what I did as a freshman, and if I can do that again, you’re talking 7-2 or 7-3. I’ve love to get that.”
If that happens, there might be another word that enters any conversation about the former County standout — Olympics.
“I’ve thought about it… but that’s a long way away,” he said.