Erin Urbanoski, the two-time defending state girls long jump champion, also is the Moffat County High School record-holder in the event. The MCHS senior has her eyes fixed on a third consecutive title this season.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Erin Urbanoski, the two-time defending state girls long jump champion, also is the Moffat County High School record-holder in the event. The MCHS senior has her eyes fixed on a third consecutive title this season.

Long-jumper hopes for 3rd consecutive state title

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She weighs 100 pounds soaking wet, wears men's track shoes and has an unorthodox jumping style.

But when Erin Urbanoski takes flight in girls long jump, none of that seems to matter.

She's broken - and re-broken - the Moffat County High School record book in the event numerous times on her way to back-to-back 4A state titles.

Now, with her season starting soon, she's looking for a third.

"I try and think of it like it's easier now because I've already accomplished the greatest thing I can," she said. "The pressure really isn't there like it's supposed to be anymore."

If not for an injury suffered the week before the state championships as a freshman, the MCHS senior could be staring down her fourth in a row.

"I tripped and fell at practice and broke my elbow," Urbanoski said. "It was the week before state, and I had already qualified at regionals."

But she tagged along with the team anyway and had to watch from the sideline as girl after girl competed in the event she should have been in.

"It was really sad," she said about not being able to compete. "I think I cried."

But she made up for it the next two years.

A leap of 17 feet, 7 inches captured a gold medal her sophomore year, and a 17-6.5 mark earned her back-to-back titles her junior year.

Which title is more gratifying?

"I think the first one was, just because I came back from an injury in my freshman year," she said. "The second one was harder, but the first one felt better."

Urbanoski, now 18, didn't start the sport until she was 12.

"My sister Heather competed in track, and I was like, 'I want to jump,'" she said. "It looked like fun. I did OK and I really liked it, so I did it in middle school.

"I was kind of a natural, I guess."

That may be an understatement.

She shattered the Craig Middle School records by more than a foot her seventh- and eighth-grade years, peaking at 15-7 both seasons.

"I think I beat it by a foot and a half-ish," she said of the CMS record. "So then my dad decided to take me to practice with the teams in Colorado Springs."

It was a good move by Pops. Colorado Springs is the home of USA Track and Field. Urbanoski got the chance to train with some of the best athletes in the country.

"I remember going there the summer before my freshman year," Urbanoski said. "They have a state meet for summer, then they have regionals after that. I placed in the top three (at state) and qualified for regionals."

And from that summer trip, a high school state champion was born.

"When I was in middle school, I really didn't know much except for running and jumping," she said. "You're supposed to count off eight steps in your head before you jump, and I didn't know that, so I just ran and jumped. Now I know counting and how to get up. There are a lot of phases to a jump that I try to work on, which doesn't really work very well. I kind of have this form, that no one else has, of jumping."

So what does she call this unorthodox style of jumping?

"It doesn't have a name," she said while laughing. "I just run fast and jump. The coaches would always try to change me, and I try, but it all goes too fast and I can't grasp it."

Why change when her style has garnered two state titles and attention from college coaches statewide?

"That's what I think," she said. "But when I get to college, that's the one thing I'm probably going to have to change."

Urbanoski said an official visit to Colorado State University is pending.

"I went down on an unofficial visit on President's Day and met everybody and saw what it's all about," she said. "I'm going to CSU regardless."

The 4.0 student hopes to become a surgical nurse or a pharmacist. She's not sure which yet.

"I've changed my mind like 75 times," she said.

What she does know is what she wants to accomplish her final year of high school track: a third state title.

"It's definitely my goal," she said. "But I can't be disappointed if I don't win. I've won twice, and that's way more than I could have ever asked for."

The road to her third may prove to be more difficult this season. The rules have changed for track and field state qualifying.

Gone are the days when an athlete could qualify by placing in the top four at the state regional meet.

Now, the top 18 distances in the state recorded throughout the season move on to the big dance.

"That doesn't really matter because I usually pre-qualify pretty early," she said. "Last year, I scratched all my jumps at regionals, and as a sophomore, I think I got like third. It wasn't necessarily regionals that got me there (to state)."

Urbanoski also has qualified for the state finals in the 100-meter dash last season, finishing 11th in 12.61 seconds.

"I like them both," she said about long jump and the 100. "I'm just better at long jump, I guess."

Her career best in the pits is 17-9 - the current MCHS record - a mark she said she wants to push to 18 feet before all is said and done.

"I have to try and make myself focus really hard and know that I have to go at like 110 percent," she said. "If I don't tell myself that, I don't do as well. I have to really clear my mind and think I can get it."

But, win or not, title or not, Urbanoski is pleased with her high school accomplishments.

"I'm happy with everything I've done so far," she said. "Actually, I would be so happy to be done. It's just hoping this year goes well and I do my best, whether I win or not, and I can just end on a high note."

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