Track and field: From hoops to hops, Longmont’s Eddie Kurjak takes flight this spring

Kurjak should contend in high jump, triple jump

LONGMONT, CO - May 11, 2021: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT, CO – May 11, 2021: Eddie Kurjak warms up on the high jump at practice on May 11, 2021. Eddie Kurjak warms up on the high jump at practice on May 11, 2021. Eddie Kurjak, a Longmont High senior, is the school’s basketball star who should be a state contender in the high jump and triple jump.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

High jumping your height sounds like the inhuman stuff athletes do before becoming TikTok stars — but even in high school track and field, leaping over the equivalent of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean top-flight success.

For the 6-foot-8/9ish Eddie “the Flying Eagle” Kurjak of Longmont High School, it does. And his leap of 6 feet, 9 inches at the Erie Tiger Invite Saturday certainly will turn heads going forward.

The school record jump per the school’s athletic Twitter account had previously been a season goal for the senior. Now, he’ll have to reset.

Kurjak isn’t your typical spring athlete. The school’s skyscraping basketball star is fresh off leading the Trojans back to their third Class 4A semifinals in four seasons.  And soon, he is expected to take those talents to Grand Junction to play college ball at Colorado Mesa.

“I really enjoy Grand Junction and those guys over there know what they want — to be on top,” Kurjak said, “And that’s what I want, too.”

While there’s no confusion where his heart is in sports, his determination in track and field has grown with age.

In fact, the last time Kurjak took part in a track and field season — which was two years ago due to its 2020 COVID-19 pandemic cancellation — the then-sophomore came just shy of nabbing his second career high school championship.

In those 4A high jump finals, Kurjak and then-senior Cisco Padilla of Pueblo West both leapt 6-5. The Cyclones senior was awarded the top spot as he took less faults in reaching the mark.

Without the tiebreaker, it would have been Kurjak’s first individual title following his team gold in basketball in 2018.

“There’s a bigger thrill to (track and field) than I originally thought,” said Kurjak, who also took 13th in the triple jump in 2019 and went 45-4.25 in the event Saturday. “It’s a bigger team than I’m used to and there’s like a different energy than other sports. So that stands out.”

Now with one final springtime run in him, Kurjak is eager to see how far and high he can go. Before Saturday’s meet, both he and Longmont coach Scott Dickinson talked about how hitting a personal and school record leap of 6-9 would be impressive for this season.

Yet after just one meet, that’s in the past.

“When you have an athlete as talented as Eddie is — and he does football, and basketball, his main sport, then he comes out for track — I’ve never had to worry about him coming in out of shape,” Dickinson said before the meet. “And when we had him do some high jump work to re-learn and get back to the basics, it took him like two or three jumps to get back above 6 feet.”

Kurjak’s next aim?

“6-9 is a good mark for now,” Kurjak texted. “But I keep wanting to move that bar up and get to 7 feet.”

The 4A state meet record is currently 6-11, set by Colt Sessions of Cheyenne Mountain in 2013. The all-classification record is 7-4, set by Matt Hemingway of Buena Vista in 1991.

All track and field competitions started last week.