A long jump from home

Josh Echt

Toronto track star reflects on success at Kent State

Colleen Ramharak, senior jumper, jokes around with fellow teammates yesterday while warming up for practice. Ramharak had an easy day as she and her team prepared for the Dour Raymond Invitational Saturday.

Credit: Andrew popik

Her day ends at 11 p.m., when many college students’ evenings have just begun.

Her friends poke fun at her for going to bed so early.

For senior psychology major Colleen Ramharak, an early bedtime is just one sacrifice she makes in order to retain her status as one of the best triple jumpers in the Mid-American Conference.

Ramharak, who won the 2004 MAC triple-jump title for indoor and outdoor track, will attempt to continue her success at 10:15 a.m. Saturday at the Doug Raymond Invitational at the Kent State Fieldhouse.

To some degree, Ramharak has a corner on the market of the triple jump. Hailing from Toronto’s Oakwood Collegiate Institute, Ramharak first discovered her jumping talent in seventh grade in Ontario. In Canada, the triple jump is just another event. In Ohio, the event is uncommon.

“I’m very lucky because no high schools here (in Ohio) have triple jumpers coming into college track,” she said. “It’s a new jump, so many in college aren’t used to doing it.”

She still remembers her first experience with the triple jump. She said the event felt right to her the first time she tried it.

“The coaches had us jumping in an ash pit, a dirty, sunken hole,” she said.

Today, a normal day for Ramharak revolves around the track. In the morning it is off to classes. In the afternoon she practices with the team and then heads to class again at night. While she said it is a challenge to balance the different aspects of being a student athlete, it also gives her schedule structure.

“When you wake up, you know what you are going to do each day,” she said.

Knowing what she has to do each day is only part of the equation. Fitting it all in is another part. Between weekend track meets, Ramharak takes 18 credit hours and practices for about four hours each day.

Ramharak said the extra work she does in her spare time, such as running more, helps her conditioning and discipline.

Throughout high school Ramharak became the Canadian Interscholastic triple-jump record holder. By graduation, she was recruited by University of Central Florida. However, some of the coaches left, and she ended up following T.J. Pierce, a former UCF coach, to Kent State.

“I enjoy her workman like approach to the game,” Pierce said. “She brings a blue-collar mentality to the game.”

One of her biggest obstacles once she came to Kent State was adapting to the fact that the U.S. programs were more business like than the Canadian programs.

“It was hard for me at the beginning, accepting the differences between the coaching styles,” Ramharak said. “Neither one is better than the other, just different.”

She said several people, such as her former track club coach, Dave Hay, and Pierce, give her motivation to continue working hard.

“Coach Pierce knows our limits and knows when to push us. He treats us like people and listens to our concerns,” she said.

Ramharak, whose personal best jump is 43-1.50 feet in indoor competition, has already qualified provisionally for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Contact track and field reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].