At 6-foot tall, Julia Hayes doesn’t see herself as a sprinter.
The Valley Christian School junior does see value in running the 100 meters, though.
The sprint workouts increase quickness in her three main events, the jumps. She notices the benefit on the straightaways in the triple and long jump, on the curved approach to the high jump bar and, ultimately, in the verticality in finishing the jumps.
Hayes is the first to admit she’s not going to threaten any sprint records.
Anything to soar another inch or two is worth it.
“I’m not her jumps coach, but my job is to get her stronger and faster,” VCS coach Terry Templeton said of the sprint workouts.
It’s made a difference already this season. Hayes has extended her school record in the triple jump (34 feet, 9 1/2 inches) by a foot this spring.
Hayes is a year-round jumper, spending most of her time high jumping. It’s the event she loves most. It will be her lone event in college.
She’s coming off her best winter.
On consecutive weekends at indoor meets at the University of Washington, Hayes vaulted 5-7 in the high jump. She took first in one meet and second in the other.
She won at a meet at Washington State with 5-5 and did 5-4 3/16 at an Idaho meet.
Hayes enjoys indoor meets because there’s no concern about rain or cold temperatures.
“There’s not a lot of pressure at the college meets. You’re just an unattached high school athlete,” she said.
Hayes used the winter to build her strength. She hopes to see the payoff in the coming weeks.
“She’s motivated to work out on her own and do the things nobody wants to do in the winter time,” said Alan Wardsworth, Hayes’ summer coach and a Central Valley assistant coach.
Her spring personal best in the high jump is 5-4. She’s pushing herself to go 5-6 to 5-8. By the summer, she wants to hit 5-9.
She’d like to eclipse 37 feet in the triple jump and 17 in the long jump.
Hayes took second at state in the high and triple jumps last year and fifth in the long.
She wants to win multiple state titles before she leaves Valley Christian. Winning titles will likely be more difficult than extending her personal bests.
Kaylee Sowle of Mary M. Knight, the defending champ in the jumps, is a junior.
Hayes welcomes the challenge. She credits her coaches for putting her in position to do her best.
High jumping is in her genes. Her mother was a jumper in high school and her mother’s father was a state champion in 1949 in West Virginia – back when jumpers landed in sawdust.
“She believes she was born to jump,” Templeton said. “This is her passion.”
Hayes maintains a healthy diet. She’s tailored as much in her life as possible around being the best jumper she can be.
Templeton has coached track for 23 years. He counts Hayes in a class by herself in terms of her dedication.
“She is by far the most enthusiastic athlete I’ve coached,” he said.
Hayes has been high jumping since she was 10 years old. In her first meet, an all-comers event at Spokane Falls Community College, she did 3-6.
“I was her coach in middle school and I didn’t see the potential,” Templeton said.
Wardsworth remembers Hayes’ early years.
“We’ve gone from days she’d get scared when the bar went up too high to now she has no fear,” Wardsworth said. “Now I can put it up at 5-10 or 6 foot and she’d take a shot at it. She’s an unbelievable competitor.”
Hayes has made herself into a success. College coaches at the indoor meets have taken notice.
She will compete Saturday at the prestigious Pasco Invite. It will give her a chance to see how she stacks up against peers from bigger schools.
Washington teams return to action in a flurry this week.
The Greater Spokane League dual season begins Thursday. Gonzaga Prep, Rogers and Ferris converge at North Central; Shadle Park and University are at Mt. Spokane; and Mead and Central Valley are at Hart Field against Lewis and Clark. All meets start at 4.
Area athletes should fare well at the 57th Pasco Invite on Saturday. It’s the biggest invitational in Eastern Washington every year.
The GSL should be well represented. A handful of athletes will challenge for titles. Mead’s boys and Lewis and Clark’s girls will battle for team titles.
A handful of athletes traveled out of the area last week, including out of state for meets during spring break.
Here are the best of the best: Shamrock Campbell, Ferris (triple jump, 46-4 1/2); Aron James, Pullman (800, 1 minute, 59.26 seconds); Tony Pizzillo, Shadle Park (200, 22.49); Anna Rodgers, Lewis and Clark (100, 12.03; 200, 25.00); Samara Nelson, Central Valley (shot put, 41-4); Katie Thronson, LC (3,200, 10:33.58); and Mayyi Mahama, Pullman (shot, 40-1 1/2; discus, 139-9).
Zach Annanie of Lakeside is the overall leader for all classifications in the javelin (201-6). He’s also done 14-4 in the pole vault.