Interview: Tanner Anderson, East Burke

Interview with Tanner Anderson of East Burke, coming off his record setting performance at the Blue Devil Track and Field Meet. Tanner broke the former HJ state record by 1/4 of an inch, clearing 7-3.25.

1) When did you begin your career as a high jumper?
My high jumping career began in 7th grade at Heritage Middle School.

2) What heights have been your toughest obstacles? Meaning, have there been one or two that have taken you longer to get over?
For the longest time, I was so afraid of 6’8”.  I had cleared 6’6” my sophomore year, and I seemed to reach a plateau at that mark that continued into my junior year.  However, at the regional meet of my junior year (where I reached 7’2.5”), my 3rd attempt at 6’8” was different.  I contorted my body differently than ever before to accommodate the height, and I have continued to jump with that same technique ever since.

3) I'm sure that I don't have all of your performances in the NCRunners database, so how many times have you cleared 7-0 in a meet situation?
In a meet situation I have cleared 7’0” and above 3 times, two of which have been in the past week.

4) Earlier this week you took 3 shots at 7-3.5 and rumor has it you just missed on the final attempt. Was that the confidence you needed for this weekend?
My attempts at 7’3.5” earlier this week definitely fueled my confidence.  I even fretted to my coach at that meet about how high the bar actually was.  However, when I clipped the bar on my third attempt I knew that I had the ability to eclipse that mark.  Confidence is everything.

5) As the bar moves up, does it change your thought process?
My thought process changes as the bar moves up.  At lower heights (6’0” to 6’6”) I concentrate on clearing the bar on my first attempts.  At higher heights (6’8” +) I realize that I must bring more to the bar--therefore, I feed off of adrenaline, I visualize each progression of my jump thoroughly, and I attack my approach.

6) What is the highest you have cleared in practice? Do you practice with the bar, a bungee, or both?
Since my high school has only an asphalt surface, I’m not able to stretch my abilities like I would want to each day at practice.  Fortunately, I am able travel to Lenoir Rhyne University a couple days per week to practice on a rubber surface.  I normally use a bungee, and my highest height there is 6’10” because I don’t like to expend myself before meets.

7) What does a normal practice look like for you?
A normal practice begins with a few warm up laps and then a highly emphasized mobile stretching routine.  On days at East Burke, I work out with the sprinters because I realize that my speed to the bar is crucial.  On days at Lenoir Rhyne, I begin jumping with some three step scissors, standing back-overs, three step flops, full approach scissors, and then full approach flops at lower heights.  I try to build upon each exercise and pay close attention to each critique my coach provides.

8) Do you play an other sports? When do you start getting ready for the indoor & outdoor
 I have played basketball my entire life, but I decided not to play this year because I wanted to concentrate on high jump.  I began preparing for indoor track during the fall and continued throughout the winter.

9) What little things do you feel you need to work on
in order to go beyond 7-3.25?
I feel that in order to surpass 7’3.5” I need to become stronger.  I have never lifted weights in my life, so that’s what excites me about college.  I also need to concentrate more on my takeoff step, which wasn’t quite in the right position relative to the bar for the heights that I am shooting for.

10) What goals do you have for the remainder of the season?
My main goal is staying consistent above the 7’00” mark.  I want to win conference, regionals, states,  and nationals.  My furthest hopes are to compete on a US team this summer.

11) Watching your progress at the high jump this weekend was one of the most amazing things I've seen in high school track. How were you able to keep your focus with so many people gathered around and all eyes in the stadium on you?
It was a challenge to keep my cool at the meet because I knew that all eyes were on me.  I had to close my eyes before each jump and picture myself clearing the bar.

12) Obviously, everyone wants to know how high you are really soaring. How tall are you, Tanner? Do you know what your vertical measures?
I stand right under 6’2”, and I’ve never measured my vertical jump.

13) Finally, how does it feel to own the highest clearance in North Carolina history? You out jumped the current US Indoor Champ, Jesse Williams, formerly of Broughton HS. Jesse also won the 2008 Olympic Trials and 3 NCAA titles . . . has to make you excited about your future.

This accomplishment still doesn’t seem like a reality.  I am so thankful for everything that my God, my family, my coach, and my school has allowed me to do.  Jesse Williams is a definite role model in my quest to the top, I respect him as an athlete and as a person, and I look forward to pushing myself each and every day to achieve higher.