Leaping to victory: Girls long jump boasts strongest lineup in decades


By Juliana Yao, Co-Sports Editor

Sprinting down the runway, gaining momentum with each step, junior Lila Ziegler leaps forward from the take-off board, soaring through the air. As she passes the climax of her jump, she braces for the impact, landing in the sandpit at a mark of 17 feet and 5 inches. She executed the longest jump for Conestoga girls in 14 years and the second farthest in its history.

Including Ziegler’s achievement, the girls have made three of the top 10 jumps in Conestoga girls track history, with junior Addison Delorefice and freshman Nicol Bovanova placing fifth and seventh, respectively. The trio also placed first, second and third in long jump at the second Central League meet at Penncrest High School, respectively. These accomplishments are novel this year despite both Delorefice and Ziegler’s previous experience in the discipline.

“It (Ziegler’s and Delorefice’s success) has been particularly interesting simply because it kind of came out of nowhere,” coach Mark Carberry said. “We knew we had some successful athletes. We just didn’t know at what level they were going to compete.”

The addition of Bovanova has strengthened the team. She first started the sport when she joined the local team in her hometown of Bratislava, Slovakia. In her first track meet, her coach placed her in the long jump, a discipline she had never heard of. She proceeded to jump 12 feet, a length that would have made her ninth in ’Stoga history, at the age of 10.

“In Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, you often see kids practicing what they would call athletics, which is just a nice way of saying all track and field things that they do at a really young age,” Carberry said. “So she’s got an incredible athletic background of all those events before she even got here.”

Bovanova also competes in the triple jump. A continuity for her has been the supportive nature of the sport’s community, which Delorefice has also experienced this season. Since hockey is Delorefice’s main sport, track and field serves more for her enjoyment and valuable interactions within the community.

“I really like having (the long jump girls) there,” Delorefice said. “We support each other during the meets and help calm each other’s nerves down, which is really nice.”

Another aspect that has allowed the girls to excel is the combined coaching of Carberry and Beata Artz. Artz specializes in coaching the horizontal jumps, and by being attentive to technique and being communicative, the two have contributed to the girls’ success.

“I will always say this: the coaching staff for track is the best coaching staff,” Ziegler said. “Not only do they care about us being good runners, but they care so much more about us as people and treat us very well.”

In addition to long jump, Ziegler competes in sprints and relays, hoping to eventually compete collegiately. All three girls plan to return to the discipline next year, with goals of personal bests and qualifying for higher-level championships. Carberry’s ambititions are similar, with high hopes for the girls.

“We would be shooting for probably two girls to potentially make a state championship again, which our program hasn’t had in probably forever,” Carberry said. “Then, if Nicol keeps evolving in both long jump and triple jump, the sky’s the limit.”

Juliana Yao can be reached at [email protected].