NEW HAVEN — The monkey is finally off Mike Lang’s back.
One of Woodland’s all-time greatest track stars earned the first State Open championship of his career as he took the indoor long jump title Monday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Lang matched his seeded jump with a bound of 21 feet, 7 inches, which was enough to give him the victory by 1 ½ inches over John Olayiwola of Classical Magnet.
Still, in typical Lang fashion, he wasn’t completely thrilled with his performance — although he admitted positivity from his consistency in hitting his seeded length.
“I wouldn’t say satisfied with the jump because it wasn’t even close to a personal best jump for me,” Lang said. “But of course I am satisfied with winning, and the fact I was able to consistently achieve the same jump for the third time this indoor season. I would rather hit a consistent jump over and over than getting one 23-foot jump at the beginning of the year and never being able to do it again.”
Lang won the Naugatuck Valley League championship last month with a leap of 21 feet, ½ inch, and followed up with a second-place finish at the Class S meet. His bound of 21-7 was ½ inch short of Weaver’s Dusean McPherson. McPherson finished third at the State Open (21-4.75) despite being the favorite.
Monday was the fifth State Open of Lang’s career, combining indoor and outdoor track. His previous best was at last year’s outdoor meet, where he finished second in the long jump (21-9) to Bloomfield’s Demario Gray. Gray graduated after winning both the indoor and outdoor titles in Class S and the State Open, leaving Lang room to take over.
“It is a feeling of relief, but now I can’t let that relief feeling take over,” Lang said. “I have to keep practicing and getting better, and go into the outdoor season and defend my title.”
For the second straight year, Lang qualified for the New England championships, which will be Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston.
“I can’t stay satisfied for long,” Lang said. “There are other very good jumpers going to the New England meet, all wanting to win.”
Lang also recognized the support from his team, including boys coach Tim Shea, girls coach Jeff Lownds and jumping coach Adam Schultz.
“I would like to thank all my coaches and teammates for the support they gave me,” Lang said. “I would have no clue what I’m doing without my coaches.”
Lang also competed in the high jump and finished 13th with a leap of 5-10.
Other local competitors at the State Open included Woodland junior Jazmyn Menzies, who competed in the high jump but did not clear the bar, and Naugatuck junior Dan Schumacher. Schumacher placed 13th in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9 minutes, 54.68 seconds, but was disqualified in the 1,600 due to interference.