VAN WERT – There’s something special about an 18-foot long jumper in high school girls track and field. Van Wert senior Megan Braun has broken through that barrier this spring, and is now doing it consistently.
Her best jump so far is 18’4 in the May 1 Ottoville quad. Braun (pronounced “brown”) first broke through the 18-foot barrier on April 24 at the Van Wert County Meet with her 18’3, which broke the 18’1 school record set in 2011 by Sydney Riethman. Braun has already bested 18 feet in four recent meets, so this is no fluke.
Here’s some perspective on what an 18-foot jump means. Of the 16 qualifiers for last year’s Division II state meet, only six had gone over 18 feet in regionals. At the state meet itself only four jumped that far (18-9.50 won the state championship). Many colleges, large and small, are eager to sign 18-foot jumpers.
Braun is also an excellent sprinter. On the wall of the main hallway at Van Wert High School is the track and field record board, and Braun’s name is already on there twice as part of the 2015 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. Her long jump record will soon be posted, so she will leave Van Wert with at least three records, which would put her second only to Amanda Clay (VWHS Class of 2014) who has four.
Braun’s coaches are impressed with all of that speed and athletic ability, but they’re even more impressed with her character and her competitiveness.
“Megan is in the best shape I have ever seen over her four years of high school track and field,” said long jump coach Ben Laudick. “It helps that she’s one of the most competitive people I have ever coached.”
“Her commitment to being the best she can be and her work ethic,” head track coach Mark Collins lists as the keys to Braun’s success. “Megan has been a pleasure to coach, and as good of an athlete as she is, she is an even better person.”
“Meg was a hard worker,” said volleyball coach Jeff Marbaugh. “She played every point as hard as she could, she didn’t take plays off. Meg was a joy to coach, great kid.”
Braun started playing volleyball at the Y in third grade and played continuously through her senior season. She made WBL honorable mention in 2017. She started basketball in sixth grade and played up through her sophomore year. Track, her favorite, started in the first grade with school meets.
“Track’s always been a sport where I’ve succeeded,” said Braun. “I wasn’t always the best athlete, but I wanted to be, and that was the goal, so as I’ve grown up I’ve worked towards it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve continued to get better.”
Athletes are limited to four events in any one meet, but at various times Braun has run the 100, 200, 400, 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay, and 4x400 relay — in addition to the long jump.
Braun was the WBL long jump champion in 2016 and 2017. She was also the WBL champion in the 200 in 2016 and has been part of WBL champion relay teams in 2015 (4x100, 4x200) and 2017 (4x200, 4x400).
She was the district long jump champ in 2017. She has advanced to the regional in multiple events — some combination of 100, 200, 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, and long jump — all three years.
“My favorite is long jump,” said Braun. “I actually didn’t start doing long jump until I was a sophomore. It ended up working for me, and I’ve stuck with it, practiced, and put a lot of work into it in the off seasons. Last winter I went to the University of Findlay two times a week and worked on technique with their jump coach.”
“Megan possesses great speed and athleticism,” said Laudick. “She gains a great amount of momentum coming down the runway, and when you combine that with her athletic ability, it has allowed her to become a good jumper. Two things that have helped Megan progress to the next level this year are her overall strength and conditioning, plus her landing. When you add that all together, you get a really good long jumper.”
“I would honestly say the 400 is my favorite race,” Braun said when asked which race she likes best. “I’ve never run that in tournament or WBL’s, but I think it’s my best. It’s very hard. It’s like a love/hate relationship with the 400. I’ve run a 60 flat at the New Haven Relays and am hoping to get into the 59’s. With a 60, I’m going into tournament pretty strong. Looking at times, I think that’s what the coaches want me in.”
Three of Braun’s events in the WBL meet and the tournament are likely to be long jump, 400, and 4x400. Her other event is yet to be determined, but will be either the 100, 200, 4x100, or 4x200.
Braun appears to be peaking at just the right time. At the Ottoville quad meet on May 1, she had three PR’s — long jump (18’4), 100 meters (12.56), and 200 meters (26.21).
“I am really just hoping to make it to state this year, whether it be in long jump or 4x4 or something, because every year I’ve made it to regional finals, been close, and then I never made it to state,” she said.
“College track is in the picture now,” said Braun. “I’m talking to a few schools and seeing what scholarships I can get, because as I’ve been progressing this season it’s become higher up on my list of things I want to do.”
Braun would like to major in business management because of the variety of jobs that it opens up to give her a wide background of experiences. She would eventually like to be a youth director in a church.
Megan is the daughter of Matt and Tina Braun. Her brother Jake is a senior at Ohio State, and brother Josh is a sophomore at Toledo.