Ryan Leopold’s sports specialty is basketball. The Riverdale Ridge High School junior averaged 14.9 points per game, three assists per game and made 46 percent of his field-goal attempts for a Ravens’ squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the playoffs for the first time.
But now, in addition to the offseason club basketball program, Leopold is doing something else. He’s on the Ravens’ track team. It’s the first time he’s ventured into that sport.
“I wanted to do track this year to get faster and more athletic for basketball,” he said. “I’m not doing any other sports currently, but I might play football this upcoming season.”
Leopold’s individual events are the high jump (his best height is 5 feet 8 inches) and the long jump, the 200-meter dash (his top time is 24.74 seconds). He’s also one-quarter of the Ravens’ 4-by-100-meter relay team.
So far, the effort has been worthwhile.
“Track, 100 percent, has helped with my explosiveness in basketball and made me a much better overall athlete,” he said. “I’m still learning the techniques for my events to maximize my athletics, but ultimately a lot of it is just being a good athlete and trusting your instincts.”
Leopold said he wish he could have started track sooner.
“My freshman year, I was going to do track, and then COVID shut down the season,” Leopold said. “Last year, it was during the summer. So, I was unable to do it because of club basketball.”
His best effort in the high jump came during the Ravens’ first meet of the season, the Brighton High School Mercury Classic, just before spring break.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised at placing first in high jump at my first-ever meet, even though I haven’t ever practiced jumping over the bar,” he said. “I always believe I can win, and I know what I’m capable of. I’ve been enjoying high jump a lot.
“I’m very pleased with how track is going because I’m only going to get better with practice,” he added. “I’m already around the requirements for state. So, I’m very confident in what I can do.”