Incline high jumpers pushing each other to reach new heights
The bar keeps rising for Incline Highlander high jumpers.
The girls seemingly set a new standard every week.
In a matter of a few meets, the school’s high jump record was tied, and then broken by different athletes.
Freshman Millie Jenkins tied the mark at 5 feet at the opening meet of the season. At that event in Fallon, Nevada, which included 35 schools from all divisions and 52 varsity high jumpers scheduled to compete, Jenkins finished third, fellow freshman Jada Moore was sixth (4-10), sophomore Sami Giangreco was ninth (4-10) and senior Haley Carlson was 11th (4-08).
A couple weeks later, Giangreco shocked herself by crushing her personal best by 3 inches to set the school record at 5-01.
“I was really surprised … I never had cleared 5 feet,” Giangreco said Wednesday while practicing in the gymnasium.
There are only eight girls on the team and four are among the best high jumpers in Nevada. The winning height last year for Class 2A at the state meet was 5-00. And that’s all while practicing mostly indoors while winter finished strong and buried the field.
“I’ve never been on a team where the girls are so good at high jump,” said Carlson, the team captain. “Sami just beat the school record as a sophomore which is incredible. Millie is really close to it and Jada is doing super well. I’m really proud of them.”
Second-year track and field head coach and athletic director, Thomas Reymer saw it coming and earlier this season took down the record banner that hung in the high school’s gymnasium. He knew adjustments would need to be made.
“Millie tied it and then she went on vacation and Sami goes and breaks her mark and set the school record,” Reymer said. “Sami told me, ‘Hey, I want to see my name up there before Millie breaks it.’ She’s already thinking Millie is going to out jump her.”
And that’s possible, maybe probable.
Jenkins’ personal best is 5-03 set last year in eighth grade while taking first place at the U.S. Track & Field Region 14 Junior Olympic championships. A couple weeks later she reached 5-01 and claimed eighth place at the national event.
Jenkins would have had more competition at the JO meets but her good friend Moore suffered a knee injury.
“[We] went to middle school together and we’ve gotten really close, she’s like my best friend,” Moore said. “In sixth and seventh grade we pushed each other to jump higher. We would jump about the same height, but she would be a little ahead of me.”
Giangreco reached the podium with a third-place finish (4-10) last year at state. She was a busy girl at that meet, claiming fifth in discus and sixth in the 100-meter dash. She credits her coach, David Snearly, in middle school for making her a better jumper. And she’s excited Jenkins and Moore are on her team after competing against them in middle school. She thinks they will make her better.
“It’s nice to actually have them on my team,” Giangreco said. “There is some competition between us, but it’s healthy competition. In the end, we’re always supportive of each other and we have a good time.”
“We’re definitely pushing each other,” Jenkins said. “Sami is a really good jumper and I was impressed she set the record. That was a really good jump. There is competition with us but also respect.”
Carlson, the veteran of the group, brings them all together. She “sets the tone” during stretching and warm-ups, Reymer said.
Carlson earned seventh at the state meet last year and bypassed that finishing height (4-06) in her first meet this season.
“It’s pretty cool because we’ve never had a big girls team and the fact that we are excelling in high jump is pretty cool,” said Carlson, who in the fall will attend University of Nevada, Reno on an academic scholarship. “I would like to place in the top five this year at state. It’s gonna be a stretch but I’m gonna work my hardest to get there. And I’m gonna have to compete with them,” she added while motioning her shoulder toward her young teammates.
Reymer gives full credit for development of his star jumpers to lower-level coaches.
“It comes from the training down at Incline Middle School and Lake Tahoe School that they’re coming in with the mentality of no fear,” Reymer said. “They’re ready to reach higher. Credit them for bringing in that youth up into the high school level. I just wish we had more of them. We’d be competing against some of the schools that have more athletes than us. All of our girls pretty much qualified for state last year and we’re expecting the same this year and for them to carry on that tradition that they are starting.”
The timing will have to be right. The girls will have to stay healthy and everybody put in their best efforts, but the Highlanders could fill the podium this year at the state meet.
Said Giangreco, “I think we all four could make it to state, in our division right now we have four of the top heights.”