NEW BRITAIN -Matthew Luddyâ€™s father, Brendan, considers himself a typical dad that is into football and baseball.
So when Matt didnâ€™t make the high school baseball team early on in his time at Berlin, his son had to figure out something else to do with his time. The younger Luddy figured he would give track, specifically the high jump, a shot despite the fact that neither he nor anyone in his family really had any experience with it.Â
â€śI have always felt like I could jump pretty high,â€ť Matt Luddy said.Â
That is quite an understatement when you look at the season the senior has put together. He broke the school record early in the season for highest jump and proceeded to break that record again later in the year when he cleared 6-feet-7-inches.Â
Luddy then went on to compete at the Class MM meet at Veterans Stadium in New Britain on Wednesday afternoon where he finished second, jumping 6-feet. The senior entered the day knowing he was one of the favorites to win, but was barely beaten out by a member of the Middletown team who jumped 6-feet-2-inches.Â
â€śIt just really wasnâ€™t my day,â€ť Luddy said. â€śWe have had a lot of home meets this season and I got really comfortable jumping there so I think being in a different environment had an impact.â€ť
Regardless of how things ended up in this weekâ€™s meet there is no doubt how impressive Luddy has been this spring. Making it even more impressive is the fact that he entered this season with next to no experience.Â
Luddy now has just two years of experience in the high jump, yet he still is one of the top performers in the state.Â
â€śI definitely practice a lot because the high jump is a really difficult form at first,â€ť Luddy said. â€śBending over backwards on the bar is not a natural thing to do. Basically you just have to be loose and never jump tight. Probably the curve is the most important thing because if you donâ€™t have a good curve youâ€™re not going to have a good jump.â€ťÂ
And that form Luddy said was difficult to learn didnâ€™t end up being too difficult for him.
â€śAt first it wasnâ€™t easy,â€ť he said. â€śBut I was lucky because my first year on the team I was able to get a lot of practice time in before the season started since we had good weather. It took about a couple of weeks before my form started to resemble what the high jump should look like and then with each practice and meet I started to get more comfortable.â€ť
Another layer that makes Lundyâ€™s success story even more unlikely is the fact that he doesnâ€™t have many people to turn to in terms of advice when it comes to how to improve his jumps.Â
â€śI try to stay out of the way,â€ť Brendan Luddy said. â€śI donâ€™t know all that much about track so I just let him do what he does out there and I am there to support him. He doesnâ€™t go to a coach in the offseason either so a lot of what he has accomplished has been his natural ability and hard work.â€ť
The one person Matt could rely on is his head coach Rick Hanbury.
â€śCoach Hanbury is the person I lean on the most,â€ť Matt Luddy said. â€śHe did almost all of the events when he did track so I take what he says and apply it as much as I can.â€ť
Now that Luddy has proven time and again how good he is at the high jump the question becomes whatâ€™s next.Â
The senior has already decided that he will be attending UConn in the fall but the question is whether he will be joining the track team. Mattâ€™s father called him a late bloomer and he really didnâ€™t have his breakout until this season when recruiting for next season was already finished so if he were to join, it would be as a walk-on.Â
The elder Luddy says his son has been back and forth about whether he would be doing that next season â€ślike a typical high-school kid,â€ť but Matt does seem to be leaning in one direction.
â€śI havenâ€™t officially decided what I am going to do,â€ť Matt said. â€śBut I think I am just going to send the UConn coach my stats and numbers because they speak for themselves and I think I am continuing to get better.â€ť
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bigwoolf5