The Northern Westchester Examiner

Cortlandt Man Reaches New Heights with Guinness World Record

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Cortlandt resident Christopher Spell has high hopes of playing professional football. In the meantime, he decided to reach new heights by setting a Guinness World Record for the highest standing jump.

Spell, 23, a 2013 Walter Panas High School graduate, made it into the record books on July 28 at Retro Fitness in Cortlandt. With approximately 75 friends and family on hand, Spell, on his first attempt, skyrocketed 64.125 inches, shattering the previous record of 63.6 inches, which stood for more than three years.

His record became official on July 30 when Guinness certified the jump, although it had to issue Spell a new certificate when it confused Cortlandt with the upstate municipality that spells its name without a t at the end (Cortland).

“It felt so freeing. It was a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Spell said of his accomplishment. “I became pretty explosive from all the sprint work I was doing.”

Spell said he started training to go after the record in June 2018. In April 2019, Spell recorded two record breaking jumps of 64.5 and 64.6 inches in Buffalo where he went to college, but those attempts were given a thumbs down from Guinness because it was determined the boxes he landed on were too soft.

Not discouraged by the near misses, Spell decided he would go after the record again in his hometown and teamed up with Retro Fitness, the closest gym to where he resides. Retro Fitness sponsored his jump by picking up the Guinness application fee and the attempt was scheduled on Membership Appreciation Day.

Spell’s record-breaking performance received worldwide attention after he appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He estimated the jump was viewed by approximately 10 million people on ESPN and social media.

He said he has received a slew of congratulatory messages, including one from the previous record holder, Evan Ungar, who lives in Toronto, Canada. They are planning to meet in late September or early October.

His father celebrated Spell’s record by surprising him with a visit to Rooster’s Wings and Beer in Mohegan Lake, where they enjoyed some Guinness beers.

Spell, a certified personal trainer, said his interest in jumping began as a youngster when he wanted to dunk a basketball.

“In high school I never played on the basketball team, but I always had a dream of dunking the ball,” said Spell, who is now 5’10”, 175 pounds. He achieved that dream when he was a junior. “That’s where my jumping came in. It carried over.”

The University of Buffalo graduate is now pursuing a football career. He has had tryouts in the past in the Canadian and Arena football leagues. In February, he has a possible tryout with the new XFL as a wide receiver.

“I’ll play any position they want me to play,” Spell said. “I still have a lot of life left in football. If things don’t pan out in football, I wouldn’t mind breaking another world record.”

Spell can be followed on Instagram or YouTube @againstoddsathletics.

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