Steamboat Springs Adams State College jump coach Brandon Campbell recruited Alex Estes solely because of the 2010 Soroco High School graduate’s athleticism.
But after Estes recently won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference long jump indoor championship with a jump of 23 feet, 8 1/4 inches, Campbell wasn’t afraid to put high expectations on how Estes can turn that athleticism into extraordinary performances.
“Having some success this early, it sets him up to be a national champion his junior or senior year,” Campbell said nonchalantly. “I think that being a national champion is in his future.”
The numbers back that up.
Estes, who won the Class 2A long jump state title his senior year, finally has been able to focus on just one sport.
In high school, he played football and basketball and ran track and field. During his freshman and sophomore years at Soroco, he also played baseball.
Those efforts stretched Estes thin. But now that he’s able to focus on one sport, he’s starting to see some results.
“We knew he had the potential to do well,” said Kim Bruner, Estes’ jumping coach in high school. “He has a natural jumping ability. (The trick) was getting him with coaches that can develop that because he has such a natural ability to jump.”
Throughout his freshman year at Adams State, Estes has started to pair his athleticism with technique. He reached the NCAA Division II provisional qualifying standard three times this season. He is one of four Adams State freshmen to qualify for the Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, March 11 and 12 in Albuquerque, N.M.
He also was named All-Region and first-team All-RMAC. He is the first freshman to win the conference long jump title since the 2001-02 season.
“I definitely didn’t think I’d go in and win the conference my first year,” Estes said. “I came out and everything came together. I get to train now specifically to jump. I have the right training and good coaches. It’s being able to concentrate other than playing three or four sports.”
Campbell and Estes admit there is a long way to go technically. Campbell said Estes still is using mostly athleticism, at this point.
Once Estes understands the finer points of jumping, Campbell said, he has the opportunity to become one of the best jumpers in the country.
That doesn’t mean they’re counting him out this year.
Campbell said the goal all season has been to get Estes to jump 24-2 and make the All-American team.
The top eight at the national championships are named to the All-American team.
“I just want to keep winning,” said Estes, who is studying business management. “I need to improve on the triple jump and (on) getting points for my team. I want to keep improving. I want to win a national title in the long jump and help the team win a national title.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com