First-year long jumper ready for the outdoor season

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(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The Marquette women’s track and field team is ready to hop into the outdoor season with the assistance of St. Charles North High School’s three-time state qualifier, Kaylee Hopp.

“I want to go to (the) conference (meet) and be on the podium for the BIG EAST Conference meet,” Hopp said.

Hopp is coming off her first collegiate indoor season, where she had much success without having an official jumps coach, as coach Rick Belford left for reasons unknown prior to the indoor season. 

“It really speaks to her and just kind of how hard she works,” head coach Bert Rogers said.

While there was a long delay before a new coach was hired, Hopp said this did not stop her from competing and partaking in the triple jump where she hit 38 feet.

Rogers said that he believes that Hopp can reach 40 feet this outdoor season.

“She ended up getting right around 40 feet in high school, so that’s what we’re trying to work back towards as we head to the outdoor season,” Rogers said.

Hopp said that the transition from high school to college was significant as she had to adjust to the extensive training days and competitive meets at the college level.

“In the beginning, with the training, your body is like in shock because of all like the weightlifting,” Hopp said. “However, it ended up turning out pretty good and I was jumping pretty good numbers for indoor.”

For most track athletes, they use the indoor season as a preparation for the outdoor season. Meanwhile, for Hopp, she said she used it as an introduction to outdoors.

“Indoor prepared me for outdoor. My numbers are looking like I’ll be able to do well during the outdoor season,” Hopp said.

Senior jumper Molly Evans said that Hopp works hard and is very passionate about her craft.

“As a team, we had some really good triumphs in our athletes, but Kaylee has really just broken out of the water,” Evans said. “She deserves all the good things she’s worked so hard for and I think she’s going to be even more successful come the outdoor season.”

Rogers said that he was proud of Hopp when she displayed her talents at one of the biggest stages, the BIG EAST Championships.

“Particularly at (the) BIG EAST (meet), getting up there and scoring some points and jumping her indoor personal best. All of her accomplishments are well deserved,” Rogers said.

Rogers said that Hopp finds ways outside of regular practice to improve her jumps.

“She’s kind of a gym rat,” Rogers said. “A lot of times, people that really want to do well are a little more intense about things and sort of her mixed personality of being like really wanting to work hard, really improve and do the things that are necessary but also do that in a sort of laid-back way is something that’s different.”

Rogers said not only does he believe Hopp can continue to contribute at a high level with the team this season as a first-year but believes she can climb her way up to the top of the top 10 list for triple jump when it’s all said and done.

“We’re on our good trajectory and she’s going to continue to improve,” Rogers said. “I think she could definitely get up there in the range where she’s, you know, qualifying for regionals”.

Evans said Hopp has already showcased strong leadership skills in her short time with the team.

“She’s a leader because she’s passionate,” Evans said. “Her work ethic, she’s passionate about it and I feel like she leads by example, you know, like as a freshman.”

Hopp said she has her goals set for this season and said that she is very confident that she can obtain them.

“I want to jump 40 feet again. That’s like the best feeling ever for triple jump and I want to be able to go to conference on a podium for the conference,” Hopp said. “Personally, I just want to keep setting new records for myself and see how that goes.”

This article was written by Johnnie Brooker. He can be reached at johnnie.brooker@marquette.edu.