It isn’t so much that Michael Ingrassia doesn’t look before he leaps, he just doesn’t dwell on it.
“It’s funny, but the more I try to focus, the worse I do,” the Desert Vista high jumper said.
So, he skips most of the rituals most high jumpers go through and just soars.
“That’s the best part about high jumping,” Ingrassia said. “It doesn’t take that much physical effort. We do a lot of work, but you either have the hops or you don’t. I just kind of relax, and I think it’s one of the most fun events in track and field.”
But the junior’s specialty, the 300-meter hurdles, is another story.
“That takes a lot more training,” he said. “You have to have the endurance and form. I always had the speed. It was just getting the other stuff down.”
Ingrassia announced his presence with authority in the 300-meter hurdles at the state championship last season when he won the event as a relatively unknown sophomore.
“The 300 hurdles is really my best event, more than the high jump,” he said. “But when I was a freshman I didn’t do well at all.”
Ingrassia’s older brother, Chris, was also a high jumper and hurdler at Desert Vista, and the younger sibling saw the 300 as a challenge.
“I wanted to beat him in something,” Ingrassia said. “I didn’t quite do it. I got close, but he edged me out.”
Chris won the 300 hurdles at the state meet two years ago, and Michael was third.
Ingrassia has been involved in track and field since sixth grade and his times qualified him for the USA Junior Olympics last summer. He was leading his qualifying race when he hit the final hurdle.
During the fall, Ingrassia, like a lot of the Desert Vista male track and field athletes, also plays football.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver and defensive back has been on the football field since he was in third grade.
“I’ve always loved football,” he said. “I only got into track to keep in shape for football and ended up being good at it.”
But Ingrassia said the training routine for the two sports can be more diverse than putting on cleats or spikes.
“There is more endurance in track where football is a lot of hitting that can wear you down and can take a toll,” Ingrassia said. “Track is more relaxed. It isn’t that we don’t train hard, but you don’t always have a coach in your face and stuff like that.”
Ingrassia doesn’t have to worry about Desert Vista co-head coach Chris Manson getting in his face.
“We knew as a freshman that Michael was a pretty special kid,” Hanson said.
Now Ingrassia has to make sure he clears those hurdles as well as he clears the high jump bar.