The high-rising 5-foot-8 freshman, who tied Perry Altman's school record by clearing 6 feet, 2 1/2 inches, during a late April dual meet, raised the bar higher than usual. Rather than starting his routine clearance height of 5-6 and working his way up to 6-0 and 6-2, he began at 5-8.
"It was the best way to prepare for the higher level of competition (at the PIAA Track and Field Championships)," said Markle, who worked relentlessly on calf raises and busted out some 100- and 200-meter dashes on the Eagles' track. He completed a slew of disciplined, individual workouts in preparation for his first-ever trip to the state meet on Saturday at a severely sun-soaked Seth Grove stadium at Shippensburg University.
With temperatures hiked up to nearly 90 degrees and several jumpers using umbrellas to block the back-burning sun, Bermudian's most promising jumper since Altman in 1977 worked into his form before propelling himself well above 6-0 on his second attempt.
"I got to clear it pretty good that first time around," said Markle, who developed these hellacious hops from years of levitating from different angles, trying to cram home emphatic dunks during street basketball games. "I missed it narrowly on my first attempt, but then I moved my foot and felt like I was in the right spot. Everything seemed to be clicking."
The comfort zone Markle thrived in for much of the 2012 campaign vanished on his ensuing three leaps.
Markle's form, which took a learning curve to truly discover this season, didn't waver. With his right foot planted behind his left and his arms pumping through vivaciously, Markle stretched his body over the bar only to knock it down with his ankle.
"I got too close to the bar," Markle said. "I've just got to space it out a little better and avoid hitting the bar."
Again, Markle faulted.
On his third and final shot -- as Markle floated somewhere between the earth's surface and the towering chance of advancing in a field front-loaded with elite jumpers-- Markle's right spike clanked off the bar.
A season highlighted by heavy production, high expectations and the tie of a long-standing school record all boiled down to a deflating thump on the jumping mat.
It wasn't a stall-out in midair. It was simply a brush of the bar that fragmented his landing job.
Markle finished 12th. Char Wilson-Adams of Tyrone Area took first place, clearing an eye-opening 6-8.
"Ryan cleared 6-0 by so much on his second jump, I thought he had it for sure," teammate Mike Elicker said. "It happens like that sometimes.
New Oxford's Courtney Wolf was a pleasant surprise story for the Colonials.
Wolf, who entered the season without the same lofty expectations as highly-decorated teammates Jamila Janneh, Kaylee Kubisiak and Madisen Slagle, placed seventh in the state in the Class AAA girls' discus. Wolf hurled the disc 117-9, earning a trip to the medals stand by placing seventh.
"She just really came on strong on the end of the season," Colonials coach Jason Warner said. "She went from throwing in the low 100s to throwing 114 at the county (YAIAA) meet and becoming county champ, and then throwing 117 at the beginning of this week. She definitely got what she deserved. It kind of all came together for her, which is really nice to see as a senior."
Buying into the old philosophy that winners are made when nobody is watching helped hasten Wolf's rapid ascension. She copped a YMCA membership during the offseason and grinded hard.
"She was working out during a daily basis," Warner said. "She was very consistent during the season, throwing in the upper 90s and then in the 105 area. So it wasn't a complete late-season surge. She just picked little things to work on each week and that's what pushed her. It was all about refining some of those techniques."
Janneh, who re-wrote the record books during a four-year career under Warner, ended the scorching-hot afternoon on a down note. Janneh slipped to 12th in the Class AAA girls' triple AAA by churning out 36-2.
"It (stinks)," said Janneh, who will prolong her career at Temple University. "You come in with such high expectations and never really get to where you got to from before."
Fairfield's Troy Hewitt, who established himself as a force to reckon with in every dual meet he competed in this season, placed 11th in the Class AA boys' discus. The senior recorded a distance of 142-6.
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