RICHMONDVILLE — It took a leap of faith for Cobleskill-Richmondville 16-year-old junior Olivia Chamberlain to qualify for the state indoor track meet Saturday at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Facility on Staten Island.
Chamberlain committed three fouls during the state qualifier triple jump event. Three tries and none of them counted, eliminating her from the finals.
She regrouped and proceeded to set a new personal best in her first attempt in the long jump – by 12 inches and return to the state meet in the long jump.
"I just cleared my mind and was like, 'Forget that even happened, focus on long and try not to get in my head again,'" Chamberlain said from inside the Cobleskill-Richmondville gym on Tuesday. "I focused in really hard on the long. My first attempt was 18 feet, 9 1/4 inches, and all my others were in the 18's. It was awesome."
To say that her one-foot improvement was astonishing is an understatement.
"I haven't jumped 18 since my freshman year, outdoor, so that was a big thing to jump that again," Chamberlain said.
She not only had faith in her ability to rebound in the long jump, she had a goal.
"I had someone standing in the pit at an 18-foot markish, and I was past that," Chamberlain said. "I was like 'Oh, my God I hit that.?' I just kept on pulling them out."
Her jumping coach, Chris Palmer, kept Chamberlain focused after the failed triple jump.
"If you put too much pressure, try to do too much with them, they get too much in their head and they're not going to perform as they want to perform," Palmer said.
His own emotions were put to the test when she floated over the jump pit to a new school mark.
"I wish I could have screamed, it was awesome. I was so happy," Palmer said. "I looked up in the stands where her mom was and just said, 'Yes, this is where it's at.'"
Her 18-9.25 mark put her atop the Section II leaderboard, and she will be joined at Ocean Breeze by Stillwater sophomores Kelly Moran and Gianna Locci in the event.
After hitting 18-feet during her freshman outdoor season, Chamberlain has been pushing herself to reach new marks.
"I've been in the gym four times a week. I come to practice on top of that and I meet with other coaches to help," Chamberlain said.
Her workouts focus on her legs and her core strength, performing Olympic lifts, including hang cleans, hand pulls, jerk splits and deadlifts.
"Anything to strengthen my legs," Chamberlain said. "You have to pop off that board with so much force and your leg has to be able to withstand that force to be able to control it in the air."
Her indoor season won't end on Saturday as Chamberlain also qualified for the first time for the New Balance Indoor Nationals next weekend at The Armory in New York.
"I see other jumpers and feel like they are peaking, and she's not peaked. She's going to keep going further," Palmer said. "We're going to keep working on her speed.
"She's doing the right thing in the off-season, doing a lot of strength and core workouts, I can't wait to see what she can do in the future."
ATHLETES TO WATCH
FAITH DEMARS (BALLSTON SPA)
The senior returns to the state meet to run in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. She was the top Section II qualifier in the 1,500 at 4:45.69, close to her ninth-place finish last year at the state meet. She has something to prove, finishing second at the state qualifier, Saratoga Springs sophomore Ella Kurto in the 3,000.
ELLA KURTO (SARATOGA)
The Blue Streak returns to the state meet looking to improve on her fifth-place finish at last year's state meet at 9:44.83 in the 3,000. She ran a 9:49.78 to easily capture the state qualifier.
MADELEINE DUCHAUSSEE (SARATOGA)
The senior shot put thrower finished fifth last year at the state meet with a toss of 39 feet, 3.75 inches. She bested that mark this year at the Section II qualifier at 39-08. Look for her to move up the podium.
4x800 RELAY (SARATOGA, SHEN)
The two foursomes finished 1-2 at the state qualifier, with the Blue Streaks winning by six seconds. Look for a close rematch at the state meet, where the Plainsmen finished second last year. This is the final state indoor relay for Shen sisters Jada and Jade Dennis.
SHANE RACEY (RAVENA)
The senior pole vaulter finished third last year at 15 feet, but set a new Section II record at the state qualifier, clearing 16 feet, 6 inches. Last year's state champion, Donald Jones from Albany Academy, only had to clear 15-3.
The Plainsmen finished in the top two spots in all three relays -- 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 at the state qualifiers. Last year, Shenendehowa finished third overall in the 4x800.
SARATOGA 4x400 RELAY
Four Blue Streak seniors want to make the most of their final indoor state meet. Look for Noah Flanders, Braden Flanders, Casey Navin and Evan Klotz to leave it all on the track after winning the state qualifier in 3:36.36.