“The O’Donnell” lives

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
The tale of the weird high-jumping technique of Analy’s Kellan O’Donnell has taken another bizarre twist.
Hal Harkness, the CIF/National Federation Cross Country and Track & Field Rules Interpreter who declared O’Donnell’s front-flip jump illegal this week, has reversed his opinion. After reviewing the IAFF, NCAA and NFHS rule books and consulting with others in the track community, Harkness has determined the jump is legal because O’Donnell takes off from one foot.
Harkness researched the issue after being asked by O’Donnell’s dad, Matt, for clarification of the rule.
In an e-mail to Matt O’Donnell on Saturday, Harkness wrote: “I finally found an expert that disagreed with me based upon the very literal wording of the takeoff rule in IAAF, NCAA and NFHS rule books. As you know, it simply says “takeoff must be from one foot”. Since we all agree that Kellan does leave his right foot on the ground fractionally after the left foot releases, he is within the letter of the rule. I withdraw my exception to his technique and if any official questions Kellan at a future meet, please give him this email to read.”
Later, in a phone interview, Harkness said, “The rule is simple and you can’t add innuendos into the rule. Whether I like his jump or not is not important. According to the rules, it’s legal … I’m not ashamed to say I was incorrect. I have to go back and swallow a little crow.”
O’Donnell, who has cleared an Empire-best 6-6 this season, will be front-flipping at the Sonoma County League finals on Saturday.