Kaitlin Salisbury finished first in the 55 meters and long jump, but her second-place finish in the triple jump was the most remarkable thing about her performance at Friday’s North Jersey Interscholastic Conference indoor track championships.The Hawthorne junior’s jump of 35 feet, 4 inches came less than a week after she took up the event in practice.
The Record Female Athlete of the Week was so accustomed to the mad dash and all-out launch of the long jump that the three phases of the triple jump were like dance steps for someone with two left sneakers.
“I would go up on my first jump and I would be going so fast that I would be coming down too hard and my leg would get cramped up,” said Salisbury, who worked on her triple-jump form in the school hallways during the week.
But something clicked during the warm-ups for the NJIC meet, and she was getting the timing right. Coach Gustav Schell and assistant coach Jayson LaVorne were amazed at her rapid progress and reminded her to open up on her first phase.
Her response reminded them of just how new to the event she was.
“I’m pretty sure my exact words were, ‘What’s my first phase mean?’ ” Salisbury said with a laugh.
Salisbury gives a lot of credit for her success to LaVorne and former Bears track star Jenna Dyksen. She says LaVorne has been patient with her, even when she only started landing the correct way on the long jump this winter. She says he’s a great teacher, though not easily impressed.