Georgia’s Kate Hall, of Casco, enters the NCAA Division I indoor track and field championships ranked first in the long jump. (Kirk Meche/University of Georgia)
After winning her first NCAA championship last spring, Kate Hall of Casco is focused on winning a second long jump title at the Division I indoor track championships Friday in College Station, Texas.
The University of Georgia junior is ranked first in the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 9.5 inches, and eighth in the 60-meter run with a time of 7.22 seconds.
Hall, the national high school record-holder in the long jump (22-5), is trying to help Georgia win its first NCAA women’s indoor track championship. The top-ranked Bulldogs finished second last year.
Hall will compete at 6:15 p.m. Friday in the preliminary round for the 60 meters. The long jump is at 7:10 p.m. Friday, and the 60 final is at 4:40 p.m. Saturday.
Hall said she’s mostly focused on winning the long jump, but also hopes to aid her team’s championship quest by scoring in the 60. A secondary goal is breaking the NCAA long jump record (22-8).
“I would say, at this point, winning a national title is definitely on my list,” Hall said. “(The record) is on my list, too. But I’m just kind of taking it one day at a time. If it doesn’t happen this year, I have next year. I’m just focusing on a good mark and hopefully getting that title.”
Hall finished fourth in the long jump at last year’s indoor championships (21-3.75), earning All-America honors for the first time. Last spring, she won the outdoor title with a school-record leap of 22-1.
She has been ranked No. 1 in the long jump all season after jumping 21-9.5 on Jan. 6, a distance she matched Feb. 24 when she won the Southeastern Conference title.
Hall is encouraged by her consistency this season. She has jumped 21-6 or better at all four of her meets, and farther than 21-8 three times.
She is also faster, having run a personal best in the 60 at the SEC championships.
“It’s really exciting,” Hall said of her improved performance. “I’ve been more consistent in practice. I’m getting better at utilizing my speed, and my technique. I know I can jump farther. Actually, in practice two weeks ago, I jumped 22 (feet) a couple of times. My last jump in practice before leaving for SEC was 22.”
Working with Georgia coach Petros Kyprianou has helped Hall adjust her start, her takeoff and her overall technique. Kyprianou also coaches Hall’s training partner, Keturah Orji, who is the American and collegiate indoor triple jump record-holder (46-11.75). Orji also is a top contender in the long jump.
“I’m focusing on staying relaxed,” Hall said. “Sometimes I tense up too much, trying to be too fast. When I stay relaxed, I’m faster. I’m working on that, (and) also getting my right foot placement on the board.”
Kyprianou, who coaches Georgia’s jumpers and multievent athletes, said Hall has dramatically improved her foot placement, which has helped her avoid taking off too far before the board and losing out on precious inches.
“She’s leaner, faster and stronger,” Kyprianou said. “Her technique is a lot better this year, which makes her more efficient. She uses energy more efficiently. And she’s putting down her foot on the proper spot on the takeoff.”
Kyprianou said it’s only a matter of time before Hall rises to another level.
“It’s something I tell all my athletes: When they are consistent at a high level, they should expect a big jump,” Kyprianou said. “I expect something big from her.”
Lewiston’s Harris back at nationals
Penn State junior Isaiah Harris of Lewiston also will compete Friday in the 800 meters.
Harris won his third Big Ten indoor title two weeks ago and goes into the NCAA championships seeded seventh with a season-best of 1:47.38. He finished fourth last year, then placed second at the outdoor championships.
The 800 semifinals are at 7:15 p.m. Friday, and the final is 5:30 p.m. Saturday.