By Myers Reece, 4-27-12
||Caption: High jump and triple jump coach Brad Holloway, left, watches as Lexy Boschee, center, arches over an orange rope while practicing the high jump at a recent Glacier High School track practice. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
As a young girl, Lexy Boschee started going to her dad’s track practices at Flathead High School. Jerry Boschee was the girls track coach for the Braves at the time and little Lexy was fascinated by all of the athletes sprinting and throwing shot puts and, especially, jumping over bars.
Something about high jumping captivated the girl. She stared and asked questions until Bill Epperly, Flathead’s high jump coach, decided there was no harm in letting her give it a try. Let her have some fun, he figured.
Epperly didn’t know he was launching one of the most successful high jumping careers in Montana history.
“She took to it like a duck takes to water,” the longtime track coach said. “Right from the get go, you knew she was going to be a jumper.”
“Early on,” he added, “she was beating quite a few of the high school kids, actually.”
Epperly, who has coached high school track for 41 years, knows a special high jumper when sees one, and he saw one that day, even if she was just a young girl. And now, years later, Boschee is a senior at Glacier High School going for an unprecedented feat: four straight Class AA high jump titles.
Only one other jumper – boy or girl, from any class – in state history has won a high jump title in each year of high school, according to the Montana High School Association. Amber Amsbaugh from Class C Big Sandy won four straight from 2007-2010. Amsbaugh now jumps at Montana State University, where she is the top-ranked jumper in the Big Sky Conference.
There is a short list of girls who have won three state high jump titles, including Helena High’s Kari Shepherd, who holds another record Boschee is trying to break: the all-class state record single jump. Kari Shepherd cleared 5-9 1/2 at the 1983 state meet. Boschee’s best jump is 5-8.
As Boschee marks her name all over the state record books, she likes to talk about how it all started: as a bright-eyed child at her father’s track practices watching older kids soar over bars higher than her head.
“It always interested me how people could jump so high over a bar backwards,” she said. “Ultimately, coach Epperly started my journey.”
Boschee won her first title with a leap of 5-7 1/2 as a freshman. Her sophomore year, she repeated with a jump of 5-4 in rain-drenched conditions at the state meet in Great Falls. Last year, she cleared 5-8 to win her third championship in a row.
Lexy Boschee puts on one of her several pairs of cleats before practicing the high jump at Glacier High School.
Boschee has achieved the 5-8 mark several times but has been unable to go higher, though she said she has been getting very close recently. She understands there are so many components of a good jump that must come together all at once in order to break such a longstanding record, from the approach to mid-air form to making sure the lower leg doesn’t ruin a perfect leap at the last second. And it all starts in the head, Boschee said.
“It’s a mental event,” she said. “If your mind isn’t in the right place, your jumps aren’t going to fall where you want them to.”
Epperly points to Boschee’s winning state jump her sophomore year as an example of her mental toughness. Though that jump was only 5-4, Epperly said it might have been her most impressive accomplishment, considering the weather conditions that he described as “horrible.”
“It was a driving rainstorm and Lexy came through,” Epperly said. “She really showed her grit and her determination.”
Boschee isn’t just a high jumper. In truth, she can do about any event she puts her mind to, as evidenced by her medal collection. In addition to her three high jump titles, Boschee has a long jump title and a triple jump title, along with a number of top-five finishes at state, including a second-place performance in the 100-meter hurdles.
Further proof of her all-around talent are her plans to compete in the seven-event heptathlon in college. After being recruited by multiple big-time college track programs, including the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University, Boschee decided to attend North Dakota State University, where both of her parents competed in track.
In the heptathlon, Boschee will participate in the high jump, long jump, 200 meters, 800 meters, 100-meter hurdles, javelin and shot put. North Dakota State is a Division I school, which means she’ll “be competing against the top dogs.”
Boschee trained hard in the offseason and has already cleared 5-8 in this young track season. She has also performed well in a variety of other events, putting her well on her way to her goal of contending at state in five different events.
The Class AA state meet is held May 25-26 in Butte, at a favorable track that Boschee says “has a good surface.” She has cleared 5-8 twice there.
“There’s no words to describe how happy I would be to get four years in a row,” she said. “It would make me ecstatic.”
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