Everybody figures the key moment for Drew Kanz this season was his remarkable high jump at the May 16 Burlington County Open.
Kanz, a Seneca senior, says the leap of 7 feet, 1 inch "changed my life."
But Kanz also knows the key moment for his future occurred about a month earlier, in a meeting with Seneca coach Bill Fisher.
"He told me he didn't want me to be that guy who could have done better in high school," said Kanz, The Inquirer's South Jersey boys' track athlete of the year.
Students hear that speech from teachers all the time. Athletes hear that speech from coaches all the time.
But this time, the words hit home. This time, the message got through. This time, the pep talk produced a powerful performance.
"You're always telling kids they can do anything they want to do if they just sacrifice," Fisher said. "Drew had so much potential, but in some ways he was just going through the motions.
"All of sudden, he was a different guy."
On the morning of May 16, Kanz was planning to attend Burlington County College next fall. But things changed after he unfurled that 7-foot-1 high jump and also won the long jump, triple jump, and high hurdles.
Before that day, Kanz's personal best in the high jump was 6 feet, 6 inches.
"It really did change my life," Kanz said this week.
Kanz said that he was still considering an offer from the University of Connecticut, but that Virginia and East Carolina were in the mix, as were other schools.
"It's pretty awesome," Kanz said.
Kanz wasn't a one-meet wonder. At the Group 3 sectional meet, he accounted for 34 team points by winning the high jump with a leap of 6-10 and the high hurdles in 14.59 seconds, and placing second in the long jump at 22-2 and third in the triple jump at 44-8.
At the Group 3 state meet, Kanz accounted for 32 team points by winning the long jump at 22-10 and placing second in the high jump at 6-6 and triple jump at 46-1, and third in the high hurdles in 14.42.
And at the Meet of Champions, Kanz was third in the high jump at 6-6 and long jump at 22-3, and eighth in the high hurdles in 14.54.
"It's a remarkable story," Fisher said.
Kanz said he would never forget that meet-record high jump at the Burlington County Open. But he won't forget that meeting with his coach, either.
"He just sounded like he believed it," Kanz said.