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Gomez joins select company after school-record long jump

By Tim Morris

From takeoff to landing, Marlboro High School long jumper Gianna Gomez knew she had taken quite a ride.

“My form in the air was good,” the Mustangs’ sophomore said.

It was so good that when she landed 17-11½ from the board, she had broken a 29-year-old school record and, in the process, won her first big high school championship: the Shore Conference.

“It feels good flying in the air like that,” she said.

Gomez pointed out that although she was well aware of Lorelei Boggs’ school record of 17-9 that stood since 1987, she was not aiming for the mark at the Shore Conference meet. When it and the championship happened, she said that it felt really special.

Gomez had an inkling that that she could be in for a big day at the conference meet held at Central Regional High School. Before her record jump, she had improved her personal best to 17-3 earlier in the competition. It was a jump that would have won the championship.

“I thought I’d be able to do [break the record],” she said. “I felt good on my run-ups [on earlier jumps].”

It’s been a whirlwind season for the sophomore who came into the outdoor campaign with a personal best of 15-2 from 2015. She admits that she never expected to jump 17 feet, let alone nearing 18 feet.

What has made the difference this spring is that she put greater emphasis on her long jumping over sprinting.

“Last year, I was more of a sprinter,” she said. “I really focused on the long jump this year.”

At each meet this year, the Mustangs’ jumper kept extending her personal best. At the Monmouth County Championships, she reached 17 feet for the first time. She and Freehold Township High School’s Caroline Feola both jumped 17-0¼, but Gomez was relegated to second place via the tiebreaker. No tiebreaker was needed at the conference meet.

With Gomez already possessing the speed needed to be a good long jumper, what she has worked on the most this year was her form.

“I’ve focused on my form in the air after takeoff, keeping my head up and legs back,” she said.

It has put her in rare company. She could be a force at the NJSIAA meets this year. Gomez believes 18 feet is within her reach this year. If she reaches that mark, she will be just the fifth Freehold Regional High School District girl to have achieved that milestone, joining Freehold Township’s Domonique Panton (18-10), Manalapan High School’s Jodi Radziewicz (189-0¾), Freehold Township’s Gabby Galanti (18-4) and Freehold Township’s Desiree Reese (18-2¼).

Gomez is also dabbling in the triple jump this year. She has hit 34-3, which was good enough for sixth place at the county championships.

“It’s interesting,” she said.

However, all of Gomez’s energies will be put toward the long jump the remainder of the season. Maybe she will put up a mark that will stand the test of time.

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