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Bidle making jump to pentathlon

January 09, 1997

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

Amy Bidle was losing a little spring in her step.

That's a bad sign, especially in her case. That spring is what made Bidle a championship-caliber high jumper.

For the last five years, the Hagerstown Junior College sophomore has been one of the best high jumpers in the state on both the high school and junior college levels. But high jumping became too routine, a close third to eating and sleeping for Bidle.

The solution was to become a heptathlete.

"I guess I was getting a little complacent," Bidle said. "I wasn't bored, but I just wanted to do something different. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to push myself more in the sport. That was something I wasn't doing last year."

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The heptathlon consists of the shot put, javelin, long jump, 100-meter dash, 800-meter run, the 100-meter hurdles and Bidle's best event, the high jump.

Bidle won two high school outdoor high jump titles and the National Guard indoor title. She finished second in the national junior college indoor meet and fourth in the outdoor meet last year. But she wanted to be more involved and do more things in track.

"I watched Micki Hopkins and Rachel Young doing all the events in last year's Region XX meet," Bidle said. "It just interested me. I wanted to try it last year, but the coaches wanted me to get a fresh start. I would have never thought of this if I hadn't seen them do it last year."

HJC coaches Mike Spinnler and Andy Reid encouraged Bidle to make the switch, which allowed her to tap unused talents with a sneaky ulterior motive.

"She is a good athlete but not a great one. Still, Amy has much more talent than Micki or Rachel," Reid said. "She has the goal of winning the national high jump championship, but we are trying to get her ready for beyond this year. She is expected to high jump and she will high jump well. We are just building a heptathlete for someone else."

Bidle started the switch during the summer. She began logging mileage to build up her strength and endurance and ran for the HJC cross country team in the fall. Her results didn't matter as much as the foundation she was building.

On Dec. 1, phase two of the rebuilding process began. She started meeting with Reid to work on her new events.

"So far, I've been throwing the shot put a little on my own and I've been working a lot on my hurdles," Bidle said. "I need to work on my endurance, because I have to run that 800."

Reid is preparing Bidle for the long road ahead. He has warned her that there will be a lot of failure before success becomes as natural as the high jump.

"She has been hurdling and she has fooled around with the javelin before," Reid said. "The potential is there and she catches on to techniques easily. She may not have a decent year in the heptathlon this year, but she will take off at the next school she attends."

Bidle's newly acquired versatility makes her more attractive to track coaches at four-year schools. But so would another title in the high jump.

"I watched all the tapes of my high jumping to see how I used to do it," Bidle said. "I guess I was just getting bored. I still like the high jump though ... I guess because it comes so naturally."

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