Northeastern senior Cody Parker lives to be airborne. For now, that means clearing the high jump bar and challenging for the Division II state championship.
In the future, it means flying Navy jets and landing on aircraft carriers. Parker was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy and he wants to fly.
“Why does anybody want to fly? It’s just really cool,” Parker said. “My dad always said find something you love to do and find a way to get paid for it. To me, flying a jet every day sounds great.”
Parker will also compete in the high jump for Navy and starts school June 27. But this week and next his focus is on jumping higher.
“I know I have what it takes to do what I want to do, which hopefully is win state,” Parker said. “Now it’s more of a mental game.”
Parker placed fifth at state last year at 6 feet, 4 inches. He has cleared 6-6 three times this season, and he has tried 6-8 (school record) and 6-8.25, a jump on which only his heel hit the bar.
“That’s encouraging to know that with that jump, if I had maybe just kicked a little sooner, I’d be looking at second place in the state right now,” Parker said. “I kind of view myself as an underdog, but with one good jump I can be right up there.”
Joe Mankovecky of Bishop Watterson has cleared a region-best 6-8.25. The best jump in the state is 6-9 by Mark Stair of Triway.
The Division II regional begins today at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, but Parker won’t be competing until Saturday. He also qualified in the long jump with a third at districts. But he won’t compete because he is not considered a contender to reach state. He also is no longer running the 400 meters or anchoring the 4 x 400 relay.
“I’m hoping that putting more time in I’ll be able to PR at state,” Parker said.
Parker first heard about the service academies in seventh grade. Going to one became a dream. The other option was a Division II or III college to play football as a receiver. But he decided to fill out athletic questionnaires for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and for the Naval Academy.
When Parker heard right back from Navy things began to happen. He visited Annapolis, got the necessary nomination from Sen. Sherrod Brown and was accepted in February.
“Initially, my goal was to play football,” Parker said. “It was kind of a far-fetched dream for me to go to one of the service academies. Then when it was actually a possibility I dropped football and put my mind on track. Track opened a lot of doors for me.”