Leaping into a bright future

Granite Bay's Sutter exceeds expectations
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A love that began as a middle school student at Olympus Junior High will carry Granite Bay’s Justin Sutter to a quality college education and a chance to compete at the NCAA’s highest levels when he heads to the University of Arizona in the fall. The Granite Bay senior put pen to paper last Friday, committing to compete in track and field for the Wildcats because he loves the school’s focus on jumping. “Arizona is known to be a jumping school,” Sutter said. “This right away made me believe in the program, which cares about the horizontal jumps. I chose that over going to a school that is just distance or sprints.” Sutter, who also starred on the gridiron with the Grizzly football team, showed an aptitude for the long jump very early on. “He was a 17- or 18-foot long jumper in middle school,” said Granite Bay jumping coach Carla Kehoe. “When you reach the section finals as a freshman that shows something special. He showed incredible potential when he jumped 23 feet at the league meet as a sophomore.” “I started to jump in seventh grade,” Sutter said. “I had always liked how you got more than one attempt at it rather than just running one race and if you messed up, so be it. In long jump you have three jumps in trials and three in finals.” Even when he is not competing, Sutter is drawn to activities that keep him outside. “I don’t like sitting in a house all day doing nothing,” Sutter said. “I love to go hiking and (enjoying) the outdoors. All of my friends go out on boats and jet skis, which is always a blast.” His senior season has been filled with one impressive leap after another, with his best jump of 24 feet, 4 inches still standing as the longest jump in the state this season. Sutter is the school record holder in the long jump. Even with his incredible success at the long jump pit, Sutter has performed extremely well in other events, and he will continue to participate in sprints at Arizona. “Sprints is just going to make my jumping better,” Sutter said. “I would love to increase my times in the short sprints and I believe that would increase my distance for the jumping.” “Justin has a very good start as a sprinter,” Kehoe said. “I am sure he will continue to run at least sprint relays in college.” Until this year, the nationally ranked jumper, also participated in the triple jump, but he has dropped that event, in which he was very successful, this year partially because of the pounding it put on his body. Sutter has taken a multi-dimensional approach to training to overcome the ailments that have been his biggest stumbling block. “This is really his first year jumping pain-free,” Kehoe said. “In January his back was really hurting, but we have incorporated a training system that includes physical therapy and a weekly massage, and it has made all the difference.” Rick Sutter, Justin’s father, gives Kehoe a great deal of credit for Justin’s success, as she has worked with the younger Sutter to develop less-traditional training methods to improve his jumping. Sutter utilizes water workouts and trampoline workouts to improve his performance. What sets Sutter apart from most of his competitors is his intense mental approach to his craft. “Before the meet I listen to the same song – Amazing - by Kanye West,” Sutter said. “The words just stick to me. I visualize myself jumping and keep running uplifting words to keep me on my game. At big meets I defiantly get a huge adrenaline rush.” “Justin is a clinical thinker,” Kehoe said. “He knows a lot and is a technician at his event.” The coach has given Sutter books to read that will help him improve his mental approach to jumping, and he has absorbed everything he can. One book that particularly impacted him is Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. “As an athlete I would tell everyone to read it,” Sutter said. “The book is about an athlete who lost himself and a man named Socrates showed him how to focus and believe in himself and as an athlete that is everything I need during my event. There will be adversity and you just have to know how to get over it and put yourself in a better situation.” Sutter’s next chance to put the power of his mental approach to jumping to the test comes Wednesday afternoon at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II meet at Bella Vista High School.