On Sunday, in her final jump, Casco’s Kate Hall broke the oldest U.S. girls’ high school track-and-field record with a jump of 22 feet, 5 inches reaching the pinnacle of her long-jumping career.
Hall, who recently graduated from Lake Region High School, uncorked the new all-time record on her final attempt at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor track and field high school meet held in Greensboro, N.C. There is no bigger stage in high school track than Nationals and, going into her final jump, Hall had to overcome the event’s leader to win the national long jump title to go along with her indoor title this year. Hall’s winning leap not only won the coveted crown, but her effort bettered the 39-year-old girls’ high school record by a full 2 inches. The old record was set by Kathy McMillan of Raeford, N.C., in 1976. McMillan had just graduated from Hoke County High School when she went on to win the silver medal in the Long Jump at the HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Summer_Olympics”1976 Summer Olympics held in HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal”Montreal, HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada”Canada.
At New Balance Indoor National Championship meet held in New York City in March, Hall was dueling her long jump rival from across the country, Courtney Corrin from Los Angeles. In an event measured to the quarter-inch Hall beat Corrin at the nationals by more than 4 inches, and set the meet record of 20 feet,11.25 inches in winning her first national title.
Coming into the last weekend’s outdoor Nationals, Corrin was the predicted winner and No. 1 seed in the national rankings. Both Corrin and Hall had outdoor performance marks around 20 feet, 11 inches and all season they monitored each other’s progress. Hall led the event up to Corrin’s last jump, and it appeared that Corrin would snatch the title with a jump of 21 feet, 5.25 inches. On Corrin’s last attempt she took the lead from Hall, and was only 2 inches below the national junior (under 20) record. Hall’s best jump had been leading the competition until Corrin soared into first place. The Corrin leap predicted a dramatic ending for Hall’s high school jumping career. Hall was poised for victory or defeat.
It was clear that Hall must let go of all cautions, and try to “get” all of the take-off board at her full speed. Fouls are common at this level of competition, and the balance between steps, speed and nerves is sometimes a matter of fortune. All of Hall’s practice and training indicated she could pull off a gargantuan effort one more time. The stage was set, and the final attempt had to be absolutely perfect to achieve her dream. Because she has always been a big-meet performer Hall raced down the runway and captured her own piece of track nirvana jumping into history with another national title, and an all-time record added to her glory.
For the next few minutes Hall seemed stunned by her performance. She heard the official announce the command, “Mark!” This meant it was a fair jump and her fate rested with the final measurement. She craned her neck to see where the officials would read her leap. When she was sure she had won she grabbed her head in both hands as she walked away from the jump pit. This was followed by hugs from the other competitors, and finally Hall sat down alone on a bench and put her head down as if trying to sort through all the emotions and drama she had just conquered. Her shoulders slumped and Hall realized she had used all her energy and focus to accomplish the greatest jump of her bourgeoning career.
After official deliberation, the wind speed at the time of Hall’s jump was confirmed and the required jump distance was verified and certified. There it was – a new national record.
Next up for Hall is a college career at Iowa State where she has accepted a full athletic scholarship. Just over that horizon is the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials, and a chance for Olympic glory. Hall’s goal since early in her track career has been to represent the United States on the women’s track and field team, and it appears she is well on her way. Hall’s high school win would top most collegiate-level competitions, as jumps over 22 feet are rare.
While her long jump was her crowning achievement at Nationals, Hall also grabbed third place and All-American honors in the 100-meter dash on Saturday. She is the reigning Maine, and New England all-time leader in the 100-meter dash and long jump events.