High school track and field preview: Junior makes jumping look 'effortless'

2013-03-06T00:00:00Z High school track and field preview: Junior makes jumping look 'effortless'Jason Harris Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Emily Gerard easily cleared the state-qualifying mark for high jump in Catalina Foothills' first meet of the season.

The defending state champion did it less than two weeks after twisting her ankle; the injury was so bad she needed crutches.

"Her spirit never wavers," Foothills coach Steve Carney said of the junior. "You should just see her get up over the bar, it's effortless. So smooth. It's just fantastic watching her jump."

Her 5-foot-2-inch jump didn't count because it wasn't an official state qualifying meet. It did, however, prove she is on pace to win again.

Here's a look at Gerard through the years:

• Junior high: Though her coach considers her a natural, track and field hasn't always come easy for Gerard.

"In seventh grade I wasn't very good at it, so I stopped," she said. "I came back in eighth grade and started getting better and better. That's when I realized it was something I wanted to do."

It wasn't until Gerard switched from running to jumping that she began to excel.

"I tried long jump, and I started getting really good at that so I decided the high jump looked like fun, and I was good at jumping so I decided to try it," she said.

• Freshman year: Gerard hit her personal best and eventual state-championship mark of 5-6 as a Foothills freshman. That season, Gerard had the help of senior Shakayla McEaddy, who set the school record in high jump at 5-9 and won multiple jumping titles in her career. McEaddy now jumps for the UA.

McEaddy "was definitely a big influence," Gerard said. "She showed me some technique and form and really helped me strive to be better."

• Sophomore year: Gerard cleared 5-6 at the Mario Castro Invitational, which took place three weeks before the Division II state meet.

Gerard didn't disappoint. She tied her personal best in the high jump to win it and took fourth in both the triple jump and long jump.

"One girl before me jumped 5-5, so I knew I had to get 5-6," Gerard said. "It still feels like a dream."

• This year - and beyond: Gerard isn't content with her one state title. She has her sights set on the school record and several more state titles.

"She's the same kid now as she was all of last year: ready to do whatever we ask of her," Carney said.

Gerard has been working hard to improve in other jumping events and the 1,600-meter relay. Although she wants to compete in the heptathlon in college, high jump is still her No. 1 priority.

"My goal this year is to jump my height, so maybe 5-7 or 5-8," she said.

WATCH LIST

Boys

• Robert Contreras, Sr., Rio Rico

• Aric Howard, Sr., Sahuarita

• Andy Trouard, Sr., Salpointe Catholic

• Ryan Silva, Sr., Rincon/University

• Denzel Woods, Sr., Pueblo

• Obang Odol, So., Canyon del Oro

• Tyler Williams, Sr., Ironwood Ridge

• Justice Summerset, Fr., Mountain View

• Garrett Kohnke, Sr., Sahuaro

• Christian Poe, Jr., Cienega

Girls

• Diana Gajda, Jr., Salpointe Catholic

• Emily Gerard, Jr., Catalina Foothills

• Kendra Knittel, Sr., Rincon/University

• Sarah Macdonald, Sr., Pusch Ridge Christian

• Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, Jr., Salpointe Catholic

• Alyssa Thompson, Sr., Salpointe Catholic

• Melanie Zibrat,Sr., Ironwood Ridge

• Meredith Alarcio Caldon, Jr., Canyon del Oro

• Grecia Castillo, Jr., Douglas

• Alexis Salazar, Jr., Sahuaro

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