For Logan Pfister, it's all about the "J."
No, not any of Michael Jordan's game-winning jumpers chronicled in "The Last Dance," even though the multisport standout at Chestnut Ridge has dropped in a few buckets himself during the past several winters.
The "J" that has the attention of the 6-foot-2 junior and, when executed well, has brought him major college contacts is the standard letter-shaped approach in the high jump that puts Pfister in a position to blast skyward and over loftier and loftier bars.
"Usually when I'm off with my 'J,' I have a tendency to step out, and instead of like a smooth 'J,' I do like I'm running a square route, like I'm cutting corners," said Pfister, who also knows a thing or two about football pass patterns as the Lions' starting QB for the past two seasons. "That tends to throw me off a little bit and messes up my approach going up over the bar."
In a very limited schedule in 2020 in his first-ever indoor track season, Pfister turned lots of heads, grabbing a share of the No. 1 spot in Pennsylvania on Valentine's Day weekend and the state indoor title March 1 at Penn State. His 6-9 clearance in the TSTCA meet at Edinboro was in just his second meet of a four-appearance season.
"I knew if I could get him to jump a little bit, he'd put up the kind of numbers that would get him recruited by Power 5 schools," jumps coach Wally Miller said of convincing the power forward to mix a few track meets around his varsity basketball schedule. "I knew what it took to get looked at by Division 1 Power 5s. I knew that if he could go 6-10, he would definitely get looks. He didn't want to do it because he was playing basketball, which I understood."
The week after he moved to No. 8 all-time indoors on the PA MileSplit charts with his new PR, Pfister was back at Edinboro to claim the TSTCA championship and top 6-7. He was able to squeeze one practice in around his basketball commitments before he went back to where he opened his track season (Kevin Dare Invite at PSU) and battled for a state title.
"Thankfully with the good coach I have, in that one practice, he was able to teach me enough to do well at states," Pfister said of Miller, who also serves as an assistant coach at Forest Hills.
Although Pfister's 6-6 jump for gold wasn't close to his best in 2020, Miller noted there was plenty to be happy about with Pfister's performance.
"When he went back (to PSU) and won indoor states, he was really getting off the ground that day," Miller said. "He's just not quite ready form-wise. If he would have had a chance to rest and compete this year outdoors, I know he would have done 7 feet. I know it. There is no doubt in my mind.
"The day he jumped 6-9, he had a game the night before. He's that good."
As a freshman, Pfister cleared 6-2 to win his first District 5 Class AA title and advance to Shippensburg. His return trip to the PIAA finale got him a spot on the high jump podium in a tight competition.
"I think I've progressed a lot with my form in the high jump from my 8th grade year to now," Pfister said. "And even from last year to now, it's been a big improvement from what I've done.
"I still have a lot to improve on. Right now, I'm pretty happy and satisfied where I'm at, but I'm just going to keep working to get better and keep improving."
Miller, who also was a basketball coach, said Pfister's jumping ability is unique.
"It makes his spring all the more incredible," Miller said of Pfister's "hops." "I never saw a guy with spring like him. He's big, but you can't tell that he weighs that much. He's not the prototypical look for a high jumper, but I've never seen anybody with that kind of power."
The jumps coach said Pfister's PR leap in the midst of the basketball season is that much more impressive.
"With basketball, it zaps your legs," Miller said. "By the time the middle of the season rolls around, your legs are nowhere near what they would be after you get some rest and get ready for track and field and get yourself reworked."
A year ago, Pfister pulled off the rare feat of qualifying for the state outdoor meet in both horizontal jumps and the high jump. All three of his performances in the District 5 meet were gold-medal efforts, with all of his winning marks also PRs.
His 6-6.5 victory at Northern Bedford was No. 14 overall last year in Pennsylvania and No. 5 in Class AA.
Before social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions put an end to any chance of a 2020 outdoor track season and a new lifetime best, Pfister was working on smoothing out the rough spots in his form.
"With the two weeks we had before the season was canceled, I didn't really practice jumping high heights," he said. "I was practicing more on my technique and my 'J' approach so I would just work on my form over the bar and my last couple steps of my drive phase going up over the bar."
In looking to the future, Pfister most likely will have to make a choice in his sport of choice once he graduates from Chestnut Ridge in 2021.
In the fall of 2019, Pfister threw for 1,995 yards and a dozen TDs and ran for 724 yards and 14 more scores as Chestnut Ridge's starting quarterback. Those numbers were worthy of a spot on the Class AA all-state team.
"I'd have to say football is my favorite sport," said Pfister, who was tied for No. 19 nationally indoors in the high jump in 2020. "I have a lot of fun with football. I love football, but track is definitely No. 2 and it's really close to football. I love track. Basketball is fun for me, but I don't take it as serious as I do football and track. Those are my two sports."
Pfister noted that he has been contacted by a number of Division 1 schools based on his high jump prowess this winter, along with several D1 and D2 and D3 schools for football recruiting.
"He is a such a powerful jumper, powerful all around, and he found a niche with that in junior high," said Jason Tew, who was back at Chestnut Ridge this season as head track coach. "At the time, I was coaching against him. Just watching him you knew he had so much potential. He was just raw.
"You have never met a more coachable kid. He's everything you could dream of coaching."