ATHENS, Georgia — Casco’s Kate Hall is a national champ once again. This time, though, it’s as a collegian.
Hall leapt 22-1 at the NCAA Division I Championship meet, held in Eugene, Ore., June 7-10, to capture the crown and help propel her team, the University of Georgia Bulldogs, into second place overall – just a point and a half back (62.5) from winners Oregon (64).
“Nationals was incredible,” she says. “My goal going in was to get a really good jump on the first jump so then I could relax and focus on popping some more far jumps. I jumped 22-1 on my first jump, which ended up holding up for the entire competition. Going into it, I was seeded in the top 5, but I knew that if I could get on the board on one of my first three jumps I could win it.”
Hall holds record after record in Maine track and, in fact, holds the national record for high school girls outdoor long jump, which she set at New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, on June 21, 2015. Her leap that day shattered a record that had stood for almost 40 years.
In her time sprinting and jumping for Lake Region High School, Hall picked up more than a dozen state titles (not to mention multiple New Englands titles and the aforementioned New Balances Nationals win). After graduating in 2015, she began her college career at Iowa State.
Hall felt confident in her choice of schools before arriving at Iowa, but – as often happens to new college students – realized after a time that she just wasn’t meant to be a Cyclone. So she packed up and transferred to Georgia.
“There were many factors that contributed to the decision to transfer from Iowa State,” she says, “but it just wasn’t a good fit for me overall. The training was different from what I was used to and although some athletes there are thriving, I knew it wasn’t going to be the place for me.”
Now a proud, happy Bulldog, Hall feels more at home than ever. The training there accords with her history and her needs – her style, in short.
“Georgia has been amazing,” she says. “The training there is more suited for what works for me. Conditioning in the preseason is very difficult, but each practice is very productive and purposeful. I have learned so much about how to jump this year and every practice I can feel myself improving more and more.”
“I’m becoming very consistent with my jumping this outdoor season,” she says. “Each meet, I have improved and was able to get back to 22 feet (my personal record). My technique has been getting better and I know that I can keep jumping further.”
Chris Pribish, Hall’s long-time trainer here in Maine, also continues to play an important role in her athletic development.
“Chris is still involved with certain aspects of my training,” Hall says. “And Petros, my coach, encourages me to go and see him when I’m home to see if there’s any extra corrective exercises I should be doing.”
Petros Kyprianou recently earned NCAA Division I Women’s Outdoor Head Coach of the Year honors.
But knowing you’re in the right spot as a college athlete is about more than just the training itself. There’s the camaraderie with your teammates, for example; thankfully, Hall has that, too.
“Aside from the training, my favorite thing about Georgia is without a doubt the team atmosphere,” Hall says. “Everyone is very close and we all hang out outside of practice all of the time, whether it’s going out to eat, having a game night or going to the movies. All of my teammates push and encourage each other in practice and it’s amazing to see.”
So it seems the stars have aligned for Hall all over again. Fans – and she sure has a lot of them – can rightly hope for continued achievement in her future. She herself is looking forward to the coming years as well.
“It feels unbelievable to be a national champion,” she says. “It has been my dream for years to achieve that goal and I can’t even fathom that it happened just a few weeks ago now.
“There was a period of time that I was worried about falling behind. However, I knew that if I could go to UGA focusing on just getting better every day and taking things one day at a time, things would fall into place. Things are definitely heading in the right direction and I could not be more excited to see what is next.”
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Champion Kate Hall of Casco poses with her new hardware after her NCAA Long Jump win.