NEW YORK and WESTBROOK—Blazes superstar Nyagoa Bayak can add another line to her track CV: National Champ.
Following her wins in the Triple Jump and High Jump at States in Gorham on Feb. 19, and in the High Jump at New Englands on March 3, Bayak traveled to New York City to contend in both events at the New Balance Nationals on March 9.
There, Bayak vied in the “Emerging Elites” competition as a triple jumper, and in the Championship competition as a high jumper. (The two competitions have different qualifying standards.)
Her efforts in the High Jump earned her third place. In fact, she matched the winner’s and the second-place finisher’s highest jump, 5-08.75, but missed on more of her attempts, which shuffled her down the standings in the end. Still, she earned All-American honors (and a few bragging rights).
Anna Hall, of Littleton, Colo., won the HJ, and Kenya Livingston, of Charlotte, N.C., finished second. Morgan Smalls, of Morrisville, N.C., came in fourth, at 5-06.00.
“I was hoping for the win (in High Jump), but placing third, All-American – that’s awesome,” Bayak said.
Bayak’s personal best in the High Jump is 5-10.00, a feat she achieved at New Englands. Had she repeated that height at Nationals, she would’ve cleanly won.
Well, next year is coming.
In the Triple Jump, Bayak surprised even herself: She smashed her own personal best, leaping 39-01.75 and claiming first by nearly nine inches. Leah Scott (of Prairieville, La.), who took second, cleared 38-05.00.
“At first, after I jumped 39-1,” Bayak said, “I thought it was bad. I went to my coaches, and said, ‘I need to fix this.’ Then I went back, and turned around and looked at the board, and it said 39-1, and I was like, ‘What?!’ I started jumping up and down; I was like, ‘Are you sure that’s me?’ I went up to the officials, and I was like, ‘Was that me?’”
Turns out, it was her.
“The first jump,” Bayak said, “I fouled. I thought I blew that out of the water; I jumped further than the 39-1. Then I jumped the 39-1, and I was like, ‘This wasn’t as good as my foul, so clearly it’s not that.’ And I turned around and it was 39-1; it was crazy.”
“Crazy,” Bayak repeated, asked how it feels to have a national title under her belt.
Bayak has aspirations around competing in college. No doubt she’ll get the chance. “I truly love track,” she said. “So doing it in college would be awesome – or even further than that.”
Bayak’s two PRs, 5-10.00 in the High Jump and 39-01.75 in the Long Jump, are Maine state records.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Accompanied by peers, Nyagoa Bayak (center) listens while Westbrook Athletic Director Gary Groves describes her recent accomplishments. Westbrook High School hosted this reception as a surprise for Bayak upon her return to the city following her trip to New York.