What makes Roland-Story's Will Bunn one of the top long jumpers in Class 2A?
STORY CITY — The 2022 track season has the potential to be a stellar one for Roland-Story senior Will Bunn.
He enters the season coming off a third-place finish in the Class 2A boys long jump at last year's state track meet. He also helped Roland-Story place in two relays.
Now he wants to bring home a state championship.
“We have really big expectations for this year, whether it’s running or jumping,” Bunn said. “Seeing where I was at last year and where (2A) is at this year, hopefully I’m ready to take it all and get a state championship in the long jump.”
Bunn spent much of his first three years in the long jump getting down the technique and timing on his jumps. He's added a lot of strength over the past year, which helped him as an All-Iowa honorable mention receiver in football, and he plans on using that to his advantage this year.
“This year we’re focusing on explosion,” Bunn said. “Last year we were focusing on getting our steps down, which was an important part. It’s exploding this year and making sure we get up and getting our distances.”
Last year Bunn jumped 21 feet, 8 inches at state.
“I want 22-6 for sure,” Bunn said. “I’m hoping to get close to 23. There’s a lot of good competition out there, so I’m going to have to explode a lot farther than I did last year.”
Bunn has the top distance among returning state jumpers in 2A. He thinks his top competition will be Southeast Valley's Tre Fisher and Greene County's Bryce Stalder. Fisher placed sixth and Stalder finished 11th in 2A at last year's state meet with respective jumps of 20-10.25 and 20-4.5.
On the track, Bunn anchored Roland-Story to a runner-up finish in the 2A 4x200 and also helped the Norsemen place fifth in the 4x100 at last year's state meet.
“He knows how to compete and he just keeps his mind in the right spot all the time,” Roland-Story senior runner Nate Johnson said. "He’s definitely someone you want as your teammate.”
Johnson ran with Bunn, T.J. Hocraffer and Eli Thorson in the 4x100 at state last year. The Norsemen must replace Hocraffer and are looking to senior Cade Murphy to fill the void.
“Last year we had such a great season, but we’ve all come back better and faster this year,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait for it.”
In the 4x200, Roland-Story lost third runner Adam McIlrath off last year's team. The Norsemen return Bunn, Thorson and Gavin Carpenter. Sophomore Jonovan Wilkinson and junior Dillon Lettow are among the lead contenders to complete this year's 4x200 team.
Bunn said he thinks both relay teams have the potential to do something special.
“I think 4x200 is a big one for us,” he said. “We’re hoping to take a state title for that. In the 4x100, Spirit Lake has a really good team, so we’re going to try and stay up there with them and hopefully get top three, top two, if not take it all.”
Bunn is anxious to get going. But he'll have to show some patience, as he's got some lingering thigh soreness right now. It's nothing to worry about, head coach Brian Petersen said, and they're just keeping his activity limited out of precaution.
Bunn wants to help his teammates qualify for state in several events and for Roland-Story to continue its dominance of the Heart of Iowa Conference. Both Roland-Story's boys and girls won last year's conference track meet.
“We own the Heart of Iowa Conference,” Bunn said. “We have a bunch of dudes that want to compete. We don’t take days off. We work hard every single day.”
Once Bunn gets healthy, his coach said the sky is the limit.
“Will has already had a great school year – football all-state and a great basketball season,” Petersen said. “Our expectations for Will are to do to the best of his ability. If you see the best version of Will Bunn in track, he’s going to have a high ceiling.”