TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsHigh SchoolTrack

Hills East's Soledad Jean wins indoor high jump state crown

Soledad Jean of Half Hollow during the high

Soledad Jean of Half Hollow during the high jump event at the state Indoor Track and Field Championships at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Sat. March 7, 2020. Credit: Errol Anderson

So much in track and field is uncertain. It’s meet-to-meet, week-to-week, and sometimes, event-to-event. But, here’s something that’s not ambiguous, uncertain, or anything of the sort – Soledad Jean can jump high. Higher than any girl in the state.

No, there isn’t any doubt about that.

Jean, a junior at Half Hollow Hills East, cleared five feet, eight inches to win her second consecutive indoor high jump state championship at New York’s yearly summit of the supreme Saturday afternoon at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.

Jean, who also won the outdoor high jump championship last June, has won three consecutive state titles in an event that has quickly become hers and hers alone.

“It feels really good,” Jean said of defending. “Not everyone gets to do it.”

Jean said that her stress level was not as bad as last year, her moment of glory clearly sinking in.

“I was a little bit more relaxed and ‘springy,’ so I had a little bit more energy,” Jean said.

Even as she keeps winning, Jean keeps refining her technique and winning, certainly a scary thought for competitors looking to take on the top in the next year and a half.

“My curve before I jump is definitely a lot better and smoother,” she said. “I’m slowly starting to get a better arch over the bar. So, instead of snapping before I hit the bar, I hold my arch longer.”

She’ll continue to refine that arch into the spring season.

“Really, it’s just having more patience over the bar,” she said.

On the track, Whitman’s Gianna Paul earned her first indoor state championship – and second overall- with a 39.15 second triumph in the 300 meters. Paul won the 400 meter state championship last spring. The time broke Half Hollow Hills’ Chinny Offer’s Suffolk record of 39.16, set in 2002, according to suffolkxctf.com

The victory also represented a bit of redemption for Paul.

“Last year, I stumbled going right into the finish line,” Paul said. “I kind of lost my footing and lost my placement. This year, I was coming back with a vengeance.”

After the fall last year, Paul placed fifth in the 300. That disappointment was fresh in her mind as she prepared for this year’s edition.

“My goal was just to keep my form up, just run against the clock, and that’s what I did,” Paul said. “…I wanted to get out as fast as I could and attack the stagger as early as I could. I ended up passing [the field] around the first 100 meters. Then, I just had to hold it for the rest of the race.”

Elsewhere, West Islip’s Isabella Rogler won the 1,500 meter race walk in 6:36.33.

“I was really nervous, so I did a lot of stretching and rolling out my legs, which helped me to mentally prepare for this year,” Rogler said. “…I tried to go out first, so I would be able to keep my lead. As I progressed through the race, I just tried to build my lead as well as I could. That was my goal, to be able to go out in first and be able to hold my place for the duration of the race.”

The time was a personal best for Rogler, topping a 6:39.14 that she walked at Ocean Breeze in January. That time remained the best time in the state this season until she shattered it Saturday.

“I think I just realized that it’s my last indoor season and I wanted to come on as strong as I could,” she said.

Huntington’s 4X200 meter relay team, composed of Analisse Batista, Alicia Brooks, Hope Bilkey, and Olivia Conte won in 1:40.27. It’s the second straight state championship for the squad, who returned all but Bilkey, but their first federation title. They won the public school championship last year.

Huntington topped powerhouse Paul Robeson of Brooklyn, who has been a thorn in their side in most high-stakes races over the last year.

“Today is just such a good day,” said Batista, who also won the public school 600 in 1:32.05. “…We’re the first place team in New York, and I didn’t really expect  it because [Paul Robeson] usually beats us every year.”

More high schools