Don’t stop believing. Junior Sarah Wilfred of the women’s track team doesn’t.
Wilfred came to Cornell as a multi-event performer – having excelled in both sprint and the high jump during high school. Soon after coming to the Red, however, Wilfred decided to focus her efforts on the high jump. It’s a decision that has had many rewards.
Wilfred holds claim to one Heps high jump championship and both the indoor and outdoor school high jump records. In addition to this, Wilfred has earned All-East and All-Ivy honors multiple times. Needless to say, since her freshman year, Wilfred has made tremendous strides in the high jump. By the end of her rookie year, Wilfred had improved her personal record by a full three inches, and has added another three inches since then.
“In the high jump, an inch is like a mile,” Wilfred said. “I am very happy with my progress.”
Many women who jump high during high school do not show improvement after coming to college. That makes Wilfred’s accomplishments even more impressive.
“What she has done is pretty remarkable,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
The strides Wilfred has made are in part due to improved fitness, but even more so to gaining a sophisticated knowledge of herself and the event.
“The psychological side to the event has been a challenge for her, but now she is much more mature,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor.
The high jump combines strength, speed, power and knowledge all into one event, a combination that can be daunting for any athlete. Learning the technical aspects of the high jump and being able to execute them properly are things that high jumpers always try to improve. They may be difficult, but Wilfred has proven that she can rise to the challenge of mastering them.
After spending last summer in Ithaca to take classes and continue working on her jumping, Wilfred was able to fine-tune her jump as well as take steps to correct some of her technical problems.
“She worked hard to learn the key ingredient to being successful, and had a genuine willingness to make changes,” Taylor said.
Last weekend Wilfred became the fourth member of the women’s track team to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March. Although meeting the provisional qualifier of 1.78 meters (5’10”) does not guarantee Wilfred a trip to the event, it certainly is a step in the right direction. Clearing 5’10” – which is both a personal best and school record – was something that Wilfred had been preparing a long time for and it was nonetheless exciting for her.
“When I jumped 5’10”, I was giddy,” Wilfred said. “I was like a little child.”
Wilfred will not allow the bar to sit at 5’10” as she continues her training during the season. She will continue to challenge herself to jump higher with hopes of earning a spot in the NCAA championships.
“I have goals to jump higher,” Wilfred said. “Goals and dreams can become a reality if you work for it. When you go into a meet you have to pray and trust yourself. That is when you jump your best – when you believe that you can.”