Onward and upward: CdM long jumpers push themselves to the limit

Caroline Glessing and Jason Plumb are multi-event athletes for the Corona del Mar track and field program.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The pinnacle of a career should be hard to reach.

Corona del Mar High School’s Caroline Glessing and Jason Plumb — winners of the girls’ and boys’ long jump titles in the Orange County track and field championships last week — would like to believe that day is still off in the distance.

Always in search of bigger marks and faster times, in more ways than one, the Sea Kings’ standout duo have been living parallel lives.

For Glessing and Plumb, meet day comes with a disclaimer: Satisfaction not guaranteed.

The name of the game is self-improvement. The greatest thrill, they say, is not a first-place medal, but rather, it is setting a new personal record in any one of their events.

Caroline Glessing won the girls' 200-meter sprints title in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals as a junior.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“That’s always been my mentality my whole entire life,” said Glessing. “I’ve always just wanted to do better, and the best I can do, because you can’t compare yourself to other people, even in the classroom.”

So Glessing admitted following the weekend, when she won the county title in the long jump with a mark of 17 feet, 9¾ inches, it was somewhat bittersweet. Her lifetime-best jump of 18-6 came at the end of last season in the unofficial state meet at Arcadia High School, which was put together after the CIF State track and field championships were canceled for a second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She found the humorous side regardless, recalling a moment in which she was handed the backpack given to the first-place finisher of the event at the county meet last season, only to have it taken away because she was the runner-up by a quarter-inch margin to Mater Dei’s Madison Forbes.

The moniker student-athlete certainly applies to Glessing and Plumb, each of whom said they have cumulative weighted grade point averages north of 4.0. They committed to their respective colleges in October. Glessing will go to Yale; Plumb picked Cal, where his mother Liz and father Mike both attended for graduate school.

Speaking to the intersection between academics and athletics, Plumb indicated that the tools for success in one lead to better results in the other, especially preparation. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

From his earliest school days at the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, Plumb learned to value preparation. His consistency this season suggests he should prepare for a long spring. Through the county championships, Plumb had bettered 23 feet in all but one of his five competitions, winning all of them. He topped out at 22-11 as a junior.

Jason Plumb won the boys' long jump with a personal-best mark of 23 feet, 4 inches in the Orange County Championships.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I was just talking to my long jump coach the other day, and he wants me to count out the steps that I take in my run-throughs leading up to the jump,” Plumb said. “He’s always saying you want to train your body so that your body will just do it. You want to program your body so it gets to the point where your body will just do it instead of you thinking too much about it.

“… To be successful on exams in school, you got to study a lot, you got to prepare a lot, and to be successful on the track, you got to practice, and you got to program your body.”

Along with the long jump, Glessing and Plumb also compete in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, and they serve as the anchor leg on CdM’s 400 relay teams. Glessing won the 200 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals at Estancia High School in June, a happy day as it came with personal records in all three of her individual events.

Acutely aware that high school only happens once, Glessing has kept her focus sharp — just like she said she hopes her mind will be in old age.

Corona del Mar's Caroline Glessing crosses first in the girls' 200 meters in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals.
Corona del Mar’s Caroline Glessing crosses first in the girls’ 200 meters in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals at Estancia High School on June 12.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“In track and in school, I’m very focused,” Glessing said. “I’m very goal-oriented, and mentally, it’s like a switch in my brain. I have these goals, and at the end of the season, I would write down these goals on my notebook, and the next day, I swear it was the weirdest thing. At state championships, I wanted to jump 18-6, and my last jump out of the six jumps, I jumped 18-6.”

CdM jumps coach Doug Ford, who was sixth in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the triple jump in 1968, shared his thoughts on what makes Glessing and Plumb special.

“They just have that inner drive,” Ford said. “They want to do better every time, and they’re very receptive to the coaching to correct things so they can get better, which is really important. I was concerned that maybe they would lose some enthusiasm because they’re going to go to college, they’ve already got the college acceptance, but they were both fourth in state last year, so they want to do better, which is great.”

While not a couple, Glessing and Plumb did go to winter formal together, as friends, this year. The next big dance for the two of them will be at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday, April 9, with the bright lights and top-tier talent to match.

“I think that once you build consistency, I think you’re way more likely to jump well at the big meets, for say Arcadia,” Plumb said. “I’m really looking forward to that meet. My coach is telling me that I’m due to pop a big one because I’m on this track of consistency … but I’m also improving.”

Jason Plumb and Caroline Glessing, four-event track and field athletes, pose in the jumps pit at Corona del Mar High School.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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