Setting a personal record in a track and field event is something every competitor dreams about and works toward throughout the season. Usually, PRs are improved gradually: an inch here, a couple hundredths of a second there. This was not the case for freshman Joanna Heath on Saturday March 1, however, as she won the women’s high jump competition at the SUNYAC championship meet at SUNY Brockport. Heath jumped a height of 5 feet, 7 inches – 4 inches better than her previous best.
By winning, Heath joined junior Cohen Miles-Rath (men’s 5,000-meter run), junior Keira Wood (women’s one-mile run), senior Tom Clark (men’s one-mile and men’s 3,000-meter runs), and sophomore Aidan Fullerton (men’s high jump) as league champions at the meet. The men’s team came in fourth place overall, while the women’s team claimed third place.
“I was really nervous about the high jump because that week in practice, I had been doing really [poorly],” Heath said. “I didn’t know how it was going to go.”
After she cleared 5’3” – her previous PR – on her third try, she said, “I got 5’5” on the first try, and I knew I was going to get the next one if I could just relax and do what I knew how to do.”
Heath also added a fourth-place finish in the women’s triple jump, an event that she has not focused on much throughout this season.
Even though she typically competed in the long jump and the high jump, head coach Dave Prevosti used a “wild card” on Heath, meaning she was allowed to participate despite not recording a jump of qualifying length previously during the season.
Heath’s freshman year has gone past her expectations both in terms of athletic success and finding her place on the team.
“I’m part of the best team I could ever imagine,” she said. “They’ve given me so much, and they inspire me every day. They’re some of the most hard-working athletes that I’ve ever met.”
Prevosti is as full of praise for Heath as she is for the team.
“In the high jump, she’s number three in the country right now as a freshman,” Prevosti said, noting that Heath could have tried for an even higher height, but had to leave the even to compete in the long jump. He added that Heath compares favorably to former Geneseo athlete and national outdoor high jump champion Kim DePrez ‘03.
Looking forward, Heath said she is optimistic about her chances in the ECAC meet in Boston, which the Knights will travel to on Saturday March 8, and NCAA Division III nationals, which will take place the following week in Lincoln, Neb.
“I think anything could happen,” Heath said. “I didn’t think that I was going to get 5’7”; if you had told me that, I wouldn’t have believed you at all.”