More bounce in California |

More bounce in California

State champion long jumper to compete at Nationals

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos

— As a sophomore, Erin Urbanoski was the 4A long jump state champion.

With two more years left to compete, the junior-to-be apparently is not slowing down.

Since sixth-grade, she has been a member of the Colorado Springs Striders Track Club.

The club includes kids from around the state, ages 8 to 20, who compete at state, regional and national levels in track events to gain recognition and experience.

“When I was young, I really wanted to try long jump for fun, because my sisters competed in it,” Urbanoski said. ” Now I have become really competitive and love it.”

At the state competition in Denver, Urbanoski placed second to advance to regionals in Albuquerque, N.M., where she placed third with a personal best of 17 feet, 8 inches to advance to nationals.

It was a feat that brought tears to her eyes.

“I was really surprised when I qualified for nationals because I was seated fourth all the way up until the end,” Urbanoski said. “It was an emotional time and was so excited I cried.”

Now she is California-bound for the national competition Thursday in Walnut, Calif. – a city of Los Angles County located in southern California.

She has one goal: to jump a personal best of 18 feet; a goal her coach Robert McMillen believes she can achieve.

“She is constantly improving with each jump,” McMillen said. “She is a fierce competitor, and she definitely has the ability to break 18 feet.”

“There is going to be tough competition,” Urbanoski said. “My main focus is doing the best I can.”

This is the reason she practices every day.

The Striders Track Club practices on weekdays in Colorado Springs.

Although Urbanoski makes the long drive several times per month, the majority of her practices take place at the Moffat County track.

She trains with the help of her father and special drills sent to her from McMillen.

The practice has made Urbanoski a natural, McMillen said.

“She is very aggressive and attacks the jump,” McMillen said.

“I don’t really get nervous anymore because I have been long jumping for so long,” Urbanoski said. ” I just do the same warm-up every time before I jump and keep my legs warm in between each jump.”

This summer, Urbanoski’s main focus is becoming a better jumper, which could mean a college scholarship in the future.

“Erin is a really great jumper and has the potential to go to the next level,” McMillen said.

A commitment that requires both time and practice.

“I practice every day at the high school, practicing technique and doing drills,” Urbanoski said. “I have also been lifting weights to become stronger.”

The training is more strenuous than Urbanoski expected.

“There is surprisingly a lot of drills to do for long jump,” Urbanoski said. “I have noticed an increase in my strength.”

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