Tanner Orr ’19 made history at the North Coast Athletic Conference track and field championship meet this year, becoming the first Kenyon student to ever win first place in the long jump event. Orr’s jump of 21-11 3/4 also broke the Kenyon record of 21-10 1/4 set in 1971 by Perry Thompson ’72.
We asked Orr, a religious studies major from Shelby, Ohio, about his athletic strategies, his academic interests and what it’s like to compete alongside a teammate and older sibling.
How do you push yourself to jump farther?
The long jump is actually something I have only recently become able to do. I fractured one of my vertebrae and another had slipped forward, requiring surgery to fix, which left me with a bit of titanium hardware. I got approval last year from my surgeon, a wonderful Kenyon alumnus named Patrick Riley [’74], to begin long jumping.
I find myself very attached to the long jump. I have a great coach in Brian Clymer, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. I know I have even more to learn and I’ve got a lot of room to improve, which keeps me excited to continue jumping.
In your experience, which part of the long jump is the most important — the run or the takeoff?
My biggest improvements so far have come from changing my approach. Increasing speed and frequency at the end of my runway proved to be the best components of my jumps to this point. I still have a long way to go with putting together a great jump and, luckily, I still have some time.
Your brother, Colton [Orr ’18], is a senior on the track and field team. How do you inspire or challenge one another?
Colton and I grew up being very close, so having him in my corner at every meet has helped tremendously. We constantly compete with one another to see who’s the best, whether he knows it or not. Having his support has been a huge factor in my progression to this point.
What sparked your interest in religious studies?
My interest in religious studies stems from the idea of perspective: how each and every one of us sees the world. At first, I saw religious studies as a way to examine how religions may filter those perceptions of the world but, upon furthering my education, I realized it offers much more than that.
My original interest in pursuing this idea was started by [Assistant Professor] Joy Brennan in the religious studies intro level class, who encouraged us to focus on what’s important to us and then relate it to the class. I chose to take more religious studies courses, hoping to keep finding new reasons to love the discipline, and each new class accomplishes just that.