Tall Task: Bertucci brings home first title since 2000

From the beginning, the high jump has just been a natural fit for Douglas High senior Ryan Bertucci.

He picked up the event when he first went out for the track team as a seventh-grader at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, a year after Chris Chappell brought home the state title in the pole vault for the second-consecutive season.

Six years and how many hundreds of jumps later, Bertucci brought home the school's only state title since, clearing 6 feet, 6 inches last weekend at Reno High School.

"I'm still trying to let it sink in," Bertucci said. "It's hard to get through my head what just happened. It was maybe three or four hours after they actually gave me the medal that I started to grasp how big this was.

"They announced it over the intercom at school. We hadn't had any state titles in track and field for quite a while. People have been coming up and congratulating me all week."

Bertucci has competed in the high jump and the hurdles throughout high school, and has always been one of the better high jumpers in the North with his lanky 6-1 body lending itself well to the event.

Until this year, however, he just hadn't found a way to qualify for the state championships. At the beginning of this season, he was dealt another blow.

While the construction of the new all-weather track complex will reap huge benefits for the program in the future, it left the team without a true training facility this season.

Douglas coaches had to get creative in running a training program for their athletes. The team pulled off one of its most successful seasons in about four years, thanks in part to that creativity.

With no real high-jump pit available, Bertucci was relegated to putting in a good deal of practice at his father Lee Bertucci's industrial plant, American International Tooling, off of Johnson Lane.

In one room of the plant, Lee and Ryan set up a full indoor pit.

"My dad found it on E-Bay for $100," Bertucci said. "We had to get a trailer and pick it up from the Sacramento area. I worked on it a little in the offseason, and came out here about once or twice a week during the season."

He also traveled up to Reno to work out at the Bishop Manogue facility with coach Leo Sambrano on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"It got a little tricky trying to be so many different places, but it worked out," Bertucci said.

Three weeks ago, things started to pick up.

Bertucci had equaled his PR of 6-4 earlier in the season at Manogue, but he cleared 6-6 at the regional championships to take second place.

He equaled it at state, narrowly missing at 6-8.

"I knew that the biggest competition I had coming into state had cleared 6-8 at regionals," Bertucci said. "I'd been getting up in that range at practice so I knew I had a chance."

The title has thrust Bertucci unexpectedly onto the national stage. He and teammate Sarah Hartley have been invited to represent Nevada at the Great Southwest Track & Field Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., on June 3.

"It's quite an honor to be asked to represent your state at the meet and it is a proud moment for the Douglas track and field team, as well as the entire school," Douglas coach Rick Brown said.

Bertucci is also preparing for the Junior Olympics later this summer. He is aiming to clear 6-10 by the end of the summer.

"I spoke with (Douglas jump coach) Rod Robinson and he outlined some training programs I can do this summer," Bertucci said.

Bertucci, who carries a GPA around 4.0 at Douglas, has enrolled at Chico State University where he plans on pursuing a degree in the veterinary field. He said he'll attempt to walk on to the track team.

-- Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


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