Jenna Rogers Excelling In More Than The High Jump

When Jenna Rogers of Rutherford HS hands in her high jump entry card to meet officials, her 5-11 physical presence never warrants a second glance. 

The shot put, however, is a completely different environment for Rogers, who said when she heads toward the circle she gets plenty of curious looks, doubtful glares and suspicious stares. 

Somehow, Rogers makes the odd combination of high jump and shot put work. On Jan. 27, at the eighth Bob Chiswell Classic at Garfield High School, Rogers became the first athlete to win both events at the same meet. 

"It's a weird combo, but it works," said Rogers, who leaped 5-6 in the high jump and threw the shot 37-7.5 at the Chiswell meet. 

Rogers acknowledges hers is a strange combination of events, so she takes solace in befriending athletes who try and conquer the same challenge, like Hasbrouck Heights senior Vincent Sedlmeir.

"We're super competitive with each other," Rogers said. "I tease him that I'm going after his personal best."

Rogers embraces the oddity of her event choices because she's an elite athlete who can rise to the occasion in the face of a challenge. 

Rogers clearing in the high jump as a freshman at New Balance Nationals Outdoor.

As a freshman she broke the state record and the national freshman record in the high jump with a 6-0.75 effort at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. She has won multiple indoor and outdoor Bergen County, sectional and group titles in the high jump. Her best Meet of Champions performance is a runner-up finish in the spring of her sophomore year after clearing 5-10. 

Last fall as a middle hitter on the varsity volleyball team, she led Rutherford to the NJSIAA Group 2 state final, and named her the state Player of the Year. 

Although volleyball is her first love and she received interest from Division 1 programs to continue her career, she recently made a commitment to Nebraska's track and field team to pursue high jumping.

Rogers possesses an effervescent personality which belies her killer instinct in competition. But her motivation for trying something so unique to her as the shot put stemmed from avoiding a particular track workout.

"Freshman year my high school coach (Curtis Arsi) wanted me to give it a shot because I played volleyball and he thought it would go hand-in-hand," Rogers said. "I definitely don't look like a shot putter. I thought it was weird, for sure, but it got me out of sprints."

So Rogers stuck it out in the shot put, and because she's an ultra-driven athlete, she took steps to do well in the event.

"I definitely don't look strong," Rogers said with a laugh. "I have a weight trainer and work with him once a week -- it's pretty intense. If you look at me, you wouldn't think I'm strong, but I do have a lot of upper body strength."

And that leads us to the doubtful looks she gets in competition, possibly because she's known as an elite high jumper.

"I can definitely feel when people are staring, and my coach and I have heard what people are saying," Rogers said. "Like, what the heck is she doing here? And then I throw it decently far and they shut their mouths." 

Jenna Rogers Career Stats

Perhaps using the doubts as fuel, Rogers has done well for herself in the shot put circle. At the Metropolitan Invitational on Jan. 29 at the New York City Armory, she competed in the 55-meter hurdles (9.33 in prelims) and long jump (14-6). 

Oh, and she won the shot put (37-1.25). 

It's no surprise that Rogers is tied with Timber Creek's Tierra Hooker for the state's best high jump of the season at 5-8.

It may come as a huge surprise that this volleyball star and elite high jumper ranks No. 7 in New Jersey in the shot put thanks to a 39-9 she logged at a Garfield high jump/shot put meet Jan. 11. 

Rogers will not be competing in state meets this winter because she's been snakebitten with injuries the last two winters -- as a junior her performance was hampered by a fracture in her left foot -- so she has been careful about the number of meets she enters.

But she said she's going full-bore this spring and the Meet of Champions high jump title is the goal which has eluded her. 

"I can't wait for spring because I'm healthy and I'll be ready to jump well consistently," Rogers said. "That would be a great way to end high school track."