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Little adjustment helps North’s Devon Richardson make big leaps

Lee’s Summit North’s Devon Richardson practiced the high jump April 24 during practice. Richardson, a junior, currently boasts the top marks in Missouri this spring in the high jump and the triple jump.
Lee’s Summit North’s Devon Richardson practiced the high jump April 24 during practice. Richardson, a junior, currently boasts the top marks in Missouri this spring in the high jump and the triple jump. dmcqueen@kcstar.com

Before he could become one of the best jumpers in the state, Lee’s Summit North junior Devon Richardson had to undergo a little adjustment — not in his attitude, but in his bones.

Richardson made it to the state tournament in the high jump as a sophomore, but the shin splints, back pain and other injuries he constantly dealt with never seemed to go away. That all changed after a visit to the chiropractor.

“He just started giving me some exercises and he readjusted my hips,” Richardson said. “And I started feeling better since then.”

The nagging injuries are no longer nagging, and the change for Richardson has been dramatic. Last month, he cleared 6 feet, 9 inches in the high jump for what is still the highest jump in Missouri this spring.

During the Kansas Relays last weekend at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Richardson won the triple jump with a mark of 48-5, which also is a state-best this spring for Missouri.

“Last year, he couldn’t make it through an entire workout or an entire week of workouts,” Lee’s Summit North assistant track coach Greg Surface said. “And this year he’s been more consistent, and it’s paying off for him.”

Richardson managed a solid sophomore season despite the pain, finishing sixth at the Class 5 state meet in the high jump after clearing 6-5. He finally sought help after the pain continued into last summer, fearing it would still be there as he entered his junior season.

But by the time he was ready for the offseason workouts, the chiropractor visit had done it’s trick. Richardson was feeling so good, he was ready to take on both the high jump and triple jump this season.

“Last year, we thought about the triple jump, but with his injury issues and the triple jump being the event it is, we knew he just couldn’t do both,” Surface said. “He had a good winter working out and he was game for it, and so he’s just taken off with it.”

The improvement was immediate. Richardson cleared 6-9 on March 29 during the Rusty Hodge Invitational at Blue Springs South, traditionally one of the first big meets of the season. He also won the triple jump with a 46-7 leap, which was tops in the state at the time.

Even more startling, those marks came on raw, 40-degree evening.

“That was surprising,” Surface said. “We’d seen him make some great attempts, but to do it on a cold day that early just makes us more excited for the end of May when the weather’s good.”

Not that he nippy conditions have ever bothered Richardson.

“To be honest, I feel like I perform better when it’s kind of not hot,” Richardson said. “I don’t like the heat. I feel like it drains my energy.”

It was mostly cool and overcast for the KU Relays, but Richardson said he was so excited just to be at Rock Chalk Park that it really didn’t matter. Qualifying for the prestigious high school meet made him focus and train harder, which he said led to another personal record in the triple jump.

“When I looked at the board I was really shocked,” said Richardson, who also broke the school record. “I didn’t believe it. It’s still kind of surreal right now.”

Being the best high jumper and triple jumper in Missouri wasn’t something Richardson envisioned happening last summer, not while the shin splints and bad back were still holding him back, but now his goals have undergone a little adjustment, too.

“I feel like I can get close to Olympic level and win both (events) at state,” Richardson said. “If I just keep working hard and try to prevent my injuries, it’s more than achievable.”

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