Unless you’ve checked the Macalester Athletics Page, played pickup basketball in the Leonard Center, or peeked under the covers of Bigelow 372 Bed B, you probably don’t know Logan Hovie. At 6’5”, Logan and his giraffe-esque body keep a relatively low profile, some would say lower than that of sports writer Zach Gilfix. As a first year, Logan tied the Macalester Indoor Track and Field high jump record at 6’7”. He went on to win Outdoor MIAC Championships with a jump of 6’9”, receiving outstanding performance of the meet and allowing him to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships where he placed 17th. Recently, we had time to sit down and catch up over a cup of decaf at Café Mac. Here’s what he had to say:
High jumping seems like a somewhat obscure sport to many people. How did you first get into it and what about it is so appealing to you?
I started my track career in eleventh grade at the urging of my AP Government teacher, who happened to be the distance coach. I started off in the 800 [meter run], but was asked to switch to high jump due to my lean build. I found the sport appealing because you’re just out there by yourself, completely reliant on how you perform and you can’t blame it on a teammate or a referee.
What attracted you to Macalester rather than a school with a Division 1 program?
No Division 1 programs were calling. I knew I wanted to attend a liberal arts college and wasn’t receiving any track looks until after I decided on Macalester. Initially I wanted to play basketball in college because after my junior year I was only a 6’0” jumper because I was relatively new to the sport.
What pushed you to make the decision to drop basketball at Macalester and focus solely on high jumping?
My senior year of high school I jumped well, placing third at a Wisconsin Division 1 state meet. I felt like I had a lot of potential in track and doing both would have required missing the entire indoor season—something that I think would have been detrimental to my progress as a jumper.
What misconceptions about high jumping would you like to clear up?
People generally think of high jump as requiring a massive vertical, but as a general rule most NFL linebackers have a higher vertical than the average jumper. Silver medalist in the 2012 Olympics Erik Kynaird Jr. has only about a 30’ vertical. And the American Record holder in the event, Hollis Conway, had a 29’ vertical.
Knowing that you are almost a second semester sophomore, have you declared your major?
Yes, I recently declared a political science major.
Do you find it hard to balance academics and sports here at Mac? How do you maintain the focus needed to be an elite athlete while still balancing your schoolwork?
It’s definitely a tough balance. I found myself at times last semester putting off work to focus on track. Having jumped conference championships on Friday night and then having to refocus and take a French final the next morning at 8 a.m. was definitely a bit difficult, but it’s something I’m working on to become a bit better at.
It has been rumored that the secret to your success is a heavy magic-bullet inspired diet. What does having a smart diet mean to you as an athlete? Is a good diet essential to being a great athlete?
I think that a good diet is definitely essential. In high school, before sectionals, I had McDonalds. However, over the past year, at my mom’s urging, I’ve adapted a better eating style and I think it definitely shows in increased energy levels, better recovery.
It has been rumored that you were born 12 pounds 14 ounces. Can you explain how this affected your life on the playground at an early age?
I would like to dispel that rumor. I was around 10 pounds at birth. I was a very quiet kid growing up. My parents realized around the time that I was three that my tongue was stuck to the bottom of my mouth, which was part of the reason why I was really quiet.
Having two sisters playing volleyball at the Division 1 level, how has coming from a family of great athletes affected your own athletic endeavors?
It has caused me to strive to become better, not letting me rest on my laurels. I feel like it has created an excellent family atmosphere, especially on the mini golf course. The competition is always fierce, often leading to the throwing of mini golf clubs and tears. Backyard volleyball games are on a whole other level. However, knowing that both my sisters accomplished so much in their athletic careers led me to work hard and strive to attain similar levels of success. It’s also nice to have a great support network of people who understand what it’s like to want something and to fail, and to help me always stay positive for the future.
How do you remain positive going into the 2014 season after the loss of your high jump coach Marty Peper?
It definitely came as a shock when we [the track team] got the news. Marty had significant experience in the jumps. He pretty much served as my individual event coach and definitely had insight into ways that I can improve. I feel like we were just beginning to scratch the surface and improve [my] technique. Plus when you get to know a person and then all of the sudden they lose their job you really feel for them. However, the assistant coach Todd Wojchik has experience coaching the jumps and I feel that I’ll be in good hands throughout the season, regardless of the steps administration takes to fill the role.
Do you think it will be hard to maintain focus as a team during this transitional phase for Macalester Track and Field?
We have had a lot of leaders step up and Coach Todd has been able to step in and implement some good fall workouts. The team has really come together the last few weeks. It has been really precious.
After your phenomenal first indoor and outdoor seasons at Macalester, how have you adjusted to your role as an inspiration and natural leader to your fellow track and field members?
I try to keep things light and get to know my teammates on a personal level. I don’t consider myself to be incredibly vocal, but I try to lead by example and show people that it’s possible to take athletics seriously, but still have a lot of fun.
Is there anyone in particular that inspires you, or motivates you to be the best jumper (person) you can be?
Coming to Macalester, there has been a history of good jumpers. One person that shows up in the record books is Nelson Jumbe. He currently has one of the top five all time best performances in NCAA history in the triple jump (set his sophomore year) and two national titles to his name. I’d like to leave this type of legacy.
As you look to your future in track and field, what are you goals as you continue to compete?
This upcoming season I would like to repeat as MIAC champion. I would definitely like to be a contender at Nationals and improve on my result last year, which I was disappointed about. I would like to show that someone at the D3 level, someone who goes to a liberal arts school, can be as good if not better than some of the most talented Division 1 jumpers.
Finally, it is no secret that there you are one of the better dressed male athletes on campus. Is there any advice you would like to give those athletes who refuse to swap out their sweats and mid-calf/sandal combo for a nice merino wool sweater?
Ditch the grey hooded sweatshirts, buy a lamb’s wool sweater, and buy some clothes that fit. If you’re going to wear sweats, at least wear ones that fit.