History of boys Redwood Empire High Jump

High Jump Top Performances

6-1 is a really good jump even these days but to do it back in 1898 made Ukiah’s Arthur Henley the best in the State.
Vallejo High was a member of the North Bay League until 1977.
1938 saw Vallejo’s Vernon Higbee win the North Bay League finals at an Empire record 6-5 then went on to win at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions at 6-3 and then take 2nd at State.
Vallejo was strong in this event with Oce Brown taking third at State in 1940 and Ernie Strickland tying for 2nd at 5-11.5 1941.
In 1963 Healdsburg’s Clem Houg raised the Empire record to 6-5½.
Montgomery’s Tom Buzzard would be the first to hit the magical 6-6 his junior year (1972) before clearing 6-8½ in 1973. That mark being the oldest jump on the top 50 performances list.
Buzzard’s 6-6¾ win at the NBL finals in 1973 took down the 35 year old meet record of Higbee’s.

Tom-Buzzard jumping at the Santa Rosa Junior College in 1973.

The year 1978 would have eight jumpers clear 6-4 or better.
The year 1980 would have an amazing eleven jumpers clear 6-4 or better.
The NBL meet record would hold until 1981 when Rancho Cotate’s Ron Kamaka would clear 6-7.
Analy’s Dave Swanson would crush all the records as a junior (6-9) and then two 6-10½ jumps as a senior, accumulating a total of 6 jumps over 6-8. One of his 6-10½ jumps still stands as the Sonoma County League/NBL “Redwood” meet record.
Swanson won the NCS MOC at 6-10¼ before taking 4th at State at 6-9.

Competing against Swanson was Cloverdale’s Craig McMillan who looked like he might become our first seven footer having cleared, 6-5 as a freshman in 1981, 6-7¼ 1982, 6-9 1983, before being ruled ineligible to compete as a senior in ’84 because of a basketball tournament he played in.
The year 1981 would have eight jumpers clear 6-4 or better.
In 1984, as a junior, Sonoma Valley’s Jim Reis cleared 6-10 and in 1985 earned a state medal at 6-6 for 6th place.
The best year for the High Jump had to be 1989.
As a junior (1988) Santa Rosa’s Gabe Manville broke the NBL MR at 6-8 then in 1989 produced our first ever seven foot jump to win the North Coast Section that year before then taking second at state (6-10) with St. Vincent’s Paul Maloney taking 4th at 6-9.
Manville would clear 6-8 or better 11 times this year with Maloney doing it 3 times (6-9¼ PR) and Piner’s Eric Birkenes also clearing 6-8 that year. Casa Grande’s Kevin Brogran and Montgomery’s Joe Bill Evett clearing 6-7 in 1989 as well, that’s five guys over 6-7 in the same year.
Piner’s Pat Leonard not only has the highest jump ever at 7-0¼ (1995) but he had an amazing total of 16 meets over 6-8. His senior year he would take 4th at state at 6-9.
As a junior (1994) he raised the NBL MR to 6-9 and placed 7th at state at 6-6. He was a two time NCS MOC Champion.
Watch video of one of Leonard’s NBL jumps in 1995
Cardinal Newman’s Jeff Poisson NBL MR from 1996 still stands today at 6-10. He would take 7th at State that year at 6-8.
Between 1997 and 2013 only 3 jumpers would clear 6-8 or better, Seth Barrett, Dan Littlefield and Mike Tracy.
Only one jumper since then has earned a spot on the top 50 performances list and that is Rancho Cotate’s Justin Zinnerman who had two jumps over 6-9, one including his NCS MOC win, and a trio at 6-8 (2014), giving him the fourth highest total behind Leonard, Manville and Swanson.
Justin Zinnerman at MOC by Michael Lucid

Top 50 Empire jumpers, Sonoma Valley leads the schools with 9 on the list
Class records
NBL Champions
SCL Champions
VVAL Champions
CMC Champions
Best years for the event

Evolution of Redwood Empire High Jump Record
6-1 Arthur Henley, Ukiah 1898, also State Best.
6-5 Vernon Higbee, Vallejo 1938
6-5½ Clem Houg, Healdsburg 1963
6-6 Tom Buzzard, Montgomery 1972
6-8½ Tom Buzzard, Montgomery 1973
6-10½ Dave Swanson, Analy 1982
7-0 Gabe Manville, Santa Rosa 1989
7-0¼ Pat Leonard, Piner 1995

State Meet Top Places
2nd Vernon Higbee, Vallejo 1938
2nd tie Ernie Strickland, Vallejo 5-11.5 1941
2nd Gabe Manville, Santa Rosa 6-10 1989
3rd Oce Brown, Vallejo 1940
4th Eric Richardson, Ukiah 1920
4th Paul Maloney, St. Vincent 6-9 1989
4th Dave Swanson, Analy 6-9 1982
4th Pat Leonard, Piner 6-9 1995
tie 6th Jim Reis, Sonoma Valley 6-6 1985
7th Pat Leonard, Piner 6-6 1994
7th Jeff Poisson, Cardinal Newman 6-8 1996

North Coast Section Meet of Champions by school
1920 tie Bruce, Analy, 5-8½
1921 Laurence Proctor, 5-9 3/8
1934 tie Jack Fore 5-10¼
1982 David Swanson, 6-10¼

1941 Ed Gross, 6-0¼

1994 Pat Leonard, 6-9
1995 Pat Leonard, 6-8

Rancho Cotate
2014 Justin Zinnerman 6-9

Santa Rosa
1917 Franklin Sowell, 5-6¼
1925 Ben Hinds, 5-9 3/8
1989 Gabe Manville, 7-0
1997 Seth Barrett, 6-8

Sonoma Valley
1985 Jim Reis, 6-6

1918 Eric Richardson, 5-9
1920 tie Eric Richardson, 5-8½

1938 Vernon Higbee, 6-3
1943 Doug Snell, 5-10

compiled by Jim Crowhurst