Katie Tapia was both bummed out and encouraged at the April 14 Glenn Peterson Invitational Track meet at the United States Air Force Academy.
The Cripple Creek-Victor High School sophomore scratched on her long jump attempt when she took off about one-half inch beyond the board. The one-hour trip down the mountain seemed to have been for naught. But when she found out her leap of 17 feet, 6 Â½ inches would have shattered her personal best by almost a foot, she was a little more upbeat.
In fact, her jump would have won the meet by a whopping 16 Â½ inches over Castle View's Taylor Smith - who competes in Class 5A. CC-V is a 2A school.
âI've been working on my legs and running a lot,â said Tapia, who wears pink Nike Sprint shoes with neon green laces. âAll I need to work on are my steps. I have my height.â
Tapia, 16, is a multi-talented athlete for the Pioneers. She was a starting middle hitter/outside hitter for the school's volleyball team, and a shooting guard on the basketball team, where she was second on the team in scoring at about eight points per game. She was named to all-league teams in both sports.
But Tapia's best sport is track and field, where her future seems very bright.
âI always wanted to be at a bigger school to have more competition,â Tapia said. âYou know, to make me push more. Track is very hard. You have to be dedicated to the sport. You have to work hard all practice.â
Tapia finished fifth in the long jump at last spring's 2A meet with a personal best 16-8 1/2. Her best official leap this year is 15-5 at the Banana Belt Classic on March 17. That currently places her 12th in the state rankings. The top 18 advance to the state meet.
âWinning the state title this year would be awesome, but doing my best is my goal,â she said. âState champion would be my goal my junior year.â
CC-V coach Jason Willems believes Tapia can reach significantly greater distances sooner than later.
âIf she gets everything together she could have a lot of success,â Willems said. âConsistency is the key. She has to have the same consistent steps every time. We have to get her to open up more, look up and fly through the air. She needs to stay loose.â
Tapia's training regiment includes running a mile after practice four days a week, and doing 55-60 squats during workouts. Her workout buddy is senior Sidney Riley, who finished second at state in the 400 meters last year.
âSidney and I push each other in practice,â Tapia said. âWe help each other out. I'll miss her when she graduates.â
Tapia competed in the 200 last year, but she has cut back this season, only running in selected events. In middle school, she was a champion in the 200, 100, long jump and high jump.
âThe 200 is really hard on my (right) leg,â she said. âIt hurts my thigh.â
The state meet is scheduled for mid May.