David Beach has been making Blue Jay jumpers better for decades

May 14—JAMESTOWN — David Beach was introduced to coaching almost 40 years ago.

"It started when I was a senior in high school," Beach said. "At the time, I worked for our parks and rec system and they offered me a job as a baseball coach. That's where it started. I coached everybody from 5-year-old tee-ball up to Babe Ruth baseball. That's when I found out I really liked working with kids."

Beach is no longer an active baseball coach but instead has turned his focus to track and field. Beach has acted as the head triple, long and high jumps coach at Jamestown High School since graduating from the University of Jamestown in the early 1990s.

His affinity for coaching along with with multiple accolades as a jumper himself has made Beach a natural fit for the JHS jumps coach.

Beach's own track and field career began in Ekalaka, Montana, in the early 1980s.

"We didn't have a track, we didn't have a long jump runway — we jumped on the football field," Beach said. "When I was an eighth grader, the track coach ordered high jump mats and then left. So the next year, as a ninth grader, the new coach knew I could jump so he said, 'Hey, you are going to be our new high jumper.'"

As a junior in high school, Beach placed third in the long jump at the state track and field meet. Going into his senior year, he was ranked No. 1 in triple jump but a few days before the team's regional meet, Beach was playing basketball.

Mid-game, Beach dunked over the top of another player who undercut him and blew out his ankle.

Despite the injury, Beach still placed sixth in high jump at State. He did not compete in triple jump due to the fact that he couldn't land on his right leg.

The injury didn't deter longtime University of Jamestown track and field coach Rollie Greeno from his recruitment plan. Beach's freshman season at UJ was in 1988-89.

"My very first track meet, I was second in the long jump and improved something like 14 inches from high school to college," Beach said. "By the time that indoor season ended, I was a 6-foot-2 high jumper and I was a conference champion in both high jump and long jump for Rollie."

In college, Beach did more than compete.

"My college coach had me helping coach the jumpers when I was in college," Beach said. "Then a teaching position for an elementary phy ed opened up in Jamestown Public Schools and I was approached about helping to coach the jumps that year. I had some tremendous athletes to work with my first year, they just needed a little bit of guidance and structure. At least two of the athletes I had that first year went on to compete in college. It was a very fun experience."

In his 30 years at the helm, Beach has seen multiple athletes earn state titles and break both personal and school records.

Brian Sinner was Beach's first state champion in high jump. The JHS alum jumped 6-foot-2 his senior year at State.

Andy Lillejord was a state champion in long jump and triple jump and placed third in high jump and second in pole vault. Lillejord went on to North Dakota State University to be a decathlete. Nick Tews was a 42-or 43-foot triple jumper and wound up a state champion in the long jump.

"He won the long jump on his very last jump at the state meet," Beach said of Tews.

Nikki Iverson won the Class A girls triple jump title the same year as Lillejord. Heather Lee broke the JHS record for girls high jump, clearing the bar at 5-3. The JHS girls current high jump record is held by Abby Kallenbach. Kallenbach jumped 5-foot-4 in 2017.

"I kind of have an eye for what it takes to be a good jumper," Beach said. "I will start talking to kids about being in track when they are young and try and direct them into different areas whether that's sprinting or jumping. The technique part of it, I've done that for a long time. For a lot of kids, it is just getting the basics down. Not all of them are stellar athletes — a lot of them are hard workers."

Generally, when an athlete succeeds in long or triple jump, it's thanks to a generous amount of speed. For someone to excel in high jump, Beach said athletes have to possess a high one-leg vertical. Beach said a majority of his successful high jumpers also compete in basketball or gymnastics.

This spring, Beach has a gymnast, Allysah Larson, who has set two new school records for the Jays.

On April 12 at Mandan's Shannon Gangl Memorial Track and Field Meet, Larson broke Michelle Burgard's previous school record of 37 feet, 2.25 inches in the triple jump. Burgard's record stood for 21 years. The new school record stands at 37 feet, 6 inches.

About two weeks later, Larson broke a 40-year-old outdoor school record in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 5.5 inches. This surpassed the old record of 18-02 set by Sherry Adams in 1984.

Hayden Olson has not broken any school records yet this season but has managed to place either second, third or fourth in both long and triple jump at every meet where she has competed.

As for the boys, Brady Harty and Aiden Skari are both making strides.

Skari, a freshman, recorded a personal best jump of 20 feet, 4.5 inches in long jump on May 7 to place third at the Jays' True Team Invitational. Over at high jump, the freshman's record stands at 5 feet, 8 inches.

Harty is the Jays' predominant threat in triple jump.

Harty and Skari qualified for State in triple jump at the Blue Jays' 701 Apparel Invite on May 10, both recording jumps of 41 feet, 6 inches.

"I like creating relationships with students," Beach said. "I had Allysah in kindergarten and now she has two school records for me. It's really fun to watch them progress and grow not just as athletes but as people.

"A lot of people have influenced how I became a track athlete here at Jamestown and how I coach," he said. "I still enjoy doing it and still enjoy those relationships. I like watching the kids improve. That's why I am still doing it."