Bert Bergen My track career started in high school. I wanted to play basketball but at 5’1” and about 100 lbs that was not going to happen. In track, in our league, you competed in 4 different weight classes so you pretty much competed against boys your size. I could run pretty well but when I saw boys high jumping I wanted to try it. I asked the track coach and he said go over there and watch what they do. That was my formal coaching of the high jump. I loved it.
The highlight of my season was probably when I won the Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island Championships. To be honest it was a cold, rainy day and I think a lot of guys went home rather than jump into a cold, wet sawdust pit. The subway ride home was a mess but that medal kept me warm. In college at Holy Cross I played intramural basketball with good friends all 4 years. We did have an intramural track meet and I won the high jump each time.
And that was it till we went, on a whim, to a Senior Games meet at Occidental College in 1994. I won the high jump and have been doing it ever since. A star was not born but I have won some National Championships and I am consistently ranked near the top of the national rankings. I also recently took up the triple jump and I am doing pretty well.
We have officiated at the Arcadia Invitational in the high jump competition for 20 years and have coached the high jumpers at St. Francis High School for 10 years. One incident sticks out at the latter. I was practicing one afternoon and a young girl from our sister school asked if she jump. She flopped and I straddled. When we were done she looked concerned. I asked if everything was OK and she said: “I don’t think the way you jump is legal.”
I really enjoy the track competitions and the Strider experience has been terrific. A lot of good friends and very nice people.