Kaitlin Salisbury has always been on the move.
At 6 years old, she would race family members around a pond at her grandparents’ home in Sullivan County, Pa. That led her to joining the track team at Lincoln Middle School in Hawthorne and three years ago the Hawthorne girls team.
As a freshman she added long jumping to sprinting, and two weeks ago won the state Meet of Champions long jump. Just five months ago, Salisbury took up triple jump and ended up winning that event as well — the first time a North Jersey athlete has won that double at the Meet of Champs.
But Salisbury’s athletic success, which has earned her The Record Girls Track Field Athlete of the Year honor, isn’t her only interest. The junior has been a member of the Hawthorne Marching Band since eighth grade, and has been on the lighting staff for the school play since freshman year.
“They all take up a lot of time and I love doing everything, but it does give me stress because I’m always busy,” said Salisbury, who won four events at the Group 1 meet and three at the Passaic County Championships. “But I’ve made all my best friends through band and I hope to be a drum captain this year.”
If her progress in track is any indication, that drum captaincy is a sure thing.
“My dad ran track at Hawthorne in high school and he told me my freshman year that it could be rough for me,” said Salisbury. “But in my first meet I was put in the second (unseeded) heat in the 100 [meters] and finished second overall. I was excited.
“But Coach [John LaForge] yelled at me after the race and told me I’d better be in the seeded heat the rest of my four years.”
That’s been no problem. With the now-graduated Jenna Dyksen pushing her Salisbury’s sophomore season brought great success, including an unexpected seventh-place finish in the state Meet of Champions long jump last year, one place behind Dyksen.
“That made me look forward to junior year, and to see how much I could progress. I knew Jenna would be gone and I would have to push myself even more,” said Salisbury.
Everything was going so well, until a tragic loss last fall.
“My best friend, who was going to college, was depressed and committed suicide,” said Salisbury. “She always was telling me to be myself and express myself, and I was a little shy at doing that.”
So after her friend’s death, Salisbury took to wearing Batman socks and dedicated the season to her lost friend.
“She was always my biggest inspiration and I knew I had to show my personality.”
With colleges such as Monmouth, Rutgers, Cornell and Brown showing interest as Salisbury approaches senior year, she’s not worried that she’ll get complacent after her junior campaign.
“I’m never satisfied, because I know I can go faster and go harder, so I have to keep moving.”