SOUTH PLAINFIELD — She wears Batman socks and at the state Meet of Champions she wore cool sunglasses instead of her usual black-rimmed eyeglasses. And she hates Superman.
But after her historic performance Wednesday, is there any way to describe Kaitlin Salisbury other than as Supergirl?
The Hawthorne junior became the first North Jersey jumper in state history to win both the long and triple jumps, and added a fifth-place finish in the 100 meters for good measure. And this on a right hip that was almost too painful for her to finish her final event.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” said Salisbury, who jumped 18-5 on her first long jump and watched it stand up throughout the rest of the competition to become Hawthorne’s first state champ since Terri Dembek won back-to-back 400 titles in 1977-78. “I just wanted to come here and place in something.”
“I wasn’t feeling great in the 100 and I wasn’t sure I was going to triple jump, but Coach [Gus Schell] said I should give it a shot,” said Salisbury, who won the long, triple, 100 and 200 over the weekend at the Group 1 championships. “I just tied my personal best in the long jump and it surprised me that was enough to win.”
Salisbury’s long jump beat the effort by Kelsey Vieira of Hillsborough by three-quarters of an inch — but the triple jump was even closer.
Ashley Edwards of Northern Burlington grabbed the early lead in the triple by going 38-11, and Salisbury struggled with her second step and was sitting in sixth place after the trials at 37-7.
“The coaches had a talk with me before the finals and told me I wasn’t getting enough lift, and that if I did I could win,” said Salisbury, who responded with a 38-11 jump on her first attempt in finals to move into third. Nnenna Ibe of North Brunswick grabbed the lead with a leap of 39-6¾ — farther than the Hawthorne star ever had jumped.
“On my second jump in finals I felt a twinge in my hip, and I fouled the jump before I got into the pit and I felt more pain than I had all day.”
But Schell told her that while she was a little banged up, that deep down she could find it in herself to give it one effort.
And that effort was a personal-best jump of 39-7.
“Now I have to go food shopping [today] for the weekend at my grandparents’ house in Pennsylvania after prom Friday night,” said Salisbury. “They have weird food and we want some better stuff.”
And with the dress she’ll wear Friday, there will an added accessory that few have had: a pair of Meet of Champions gold medals.