HILLSBOROUGH: Vieira to compete in last track Meet of Champions

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By Justin Feil, Packet Media Group
Kelsey Vieira has qualified for every Meet of Champions in the four years that she has been at Hillsborough High School, so getting there again this year is nothing new.
The Raider senior jumper’s final trip wasn’t so easy.
Vieira tore a hamstring at the end of the winter season at the Eastern States Invitational. Then, a few weeks later, after the spring season began, she tore the other one — her take-off leg to make things worse.
“That’s been a hard pill to swallow,” Vieira said. “I was so excited about Meet of Champs because in the winter I was improving when I was healthy and this was a complete setback. In all my four years I’ve never been injured. So it’s definitely something I had to adjust to, but as an athlete it’s something that comes with the territory. I’m just taking it one step at a time.”
Vieira’s steps have led her back to the MOC for an eighth time — four indoor and four outdoor. The MOC was scheduled for Wednesday with the possibility that inclement weather could push it to today. Vieira was to compete in the triple jump and long jump after moving on from the Group IV meet held last Friday and Saturday. She was third in the triple jump at 38 feet, ¾ inch and eighth in long jump at 17-9. The top six advance, plus the next best six finishers from all groups.
“I was not happy with my performance at groups,” Vieira said. “For triple jump, I was OK with that. For long jump, not so much. I did pull both my hamstrings this season so it’s been hard to get back in the groove of things and get through both of my events. I’m definitely not as happy as I want to be, but, hopefully I’ll fix that at MOC’s.”
Vieira went into the MOC seeded 18th in long jump and seeded sixth in the triple jump. The top eight receive medals at the MOC.
“I’m actually really nervous because the competition has been really tough this year,” Vieira said. “But I’m excited. It’s the last meet of my senior year so I’m just hoping to do my best.”
Vieira isn’t the only representative for the Raiders. Camille Aitcheson is seeded 30th in triple jump after the sophomore advanced as a wild card out of groups with a leap of 35-6 1/4. Another senior, Paige Novak, will run in the 800 meters after running 2:15.90 at groups.
Lauren Smith was 10th in the 100 meters at 12.61 seconds and 18th in 400 meters in 59.57 seconds. Novak placed 11th in the 1,600 in 5:07.92. Stephanie Mauer ran 11:26.80 for 15th in the 3,200 meters.
Gifty Adombire was ninth in the girls shot put at 36-6 1/4.
“This is Camille’s first year going so it’s definitely going to be an eye opener for her,” Vieira said. “I’m excited she’s coming with me.
“In a way, I feel like I’m living through Camille because she’s so young. She’s a young jumper and she’s improved so much in the past year,” she added. “I was just excited to be her partner and see her grow how I did. It’s bittersweet. It’s definitely going to make me miss high school track and field. But Hillsborough will definitely be in good shape with her.”
Brandon Tubby leads the Raider boys. His 4:09.59 just missed the group record, but won the Group IV boys 1600. It was the top time coming into the MOC.
Sophomore Ryan Wheaton is also headed to the MOC after his 169-10 throw placed him fifth in the javelin at the group meet. Jeremy Shipley was 19th in the 800 at the Group IV meet, Zachary Williams placed 12th in long jump at 20-10 and Wheaton was 13th in the shot put at 50-1.
The MOC will be the final high school meet for Vieira and Tubby, both of whom will be competing for Penn State University next year. Vieira is ready to represent Hillsborough one more time.
“It’s actually completely nerve-wracking,” Vieira said. “There’s no more dual meets. It’s scary to think after the Meet of Champs the next time I compete it’s going to be at a Big 10 level with these senior girls and amazing athletes. There’s no more winning a meet jumping 17. That’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but I’m excited to get stronger and excited to improve as an athlete. I know that comes with the training in college.
“The Meet of Champs prepares you for that,” she added. “It’s one of those meets where it’s hard to make a statement. I’m just excited. I’m glad I get to compete in the Meet of Champs even though I’m not 100 percent. I’m happy I get to compete there because it is a meet that helps prepare you for those big meets in college. I’m excited for that.”
Vieira committed in the fall and Tubby changed his commitment to Penn State this spring after originally thinking he’d be headed to Northeastern.
“It’s nice to see a familiar face on the track team,” Vieira said. “Brandon is an amazing athlete. I’m definitely excited for next year.”
She would like to put together one more big meet before she turns her sights to the next chapter. She is hoping that that the adrenaline of the MOC will help her push through competing in both events on the same day.
“That’s another thing I’m worried about,” Vieira said. “Sectionals and groups, it is over two days and I have the night to regain strength. That’s definitely another thing I’m worried about. For the season, I have not done both jumps in one day. The Meet of Champs is the first time I’m doing it.”
Vieira hasn’t been doing the same training that she normally would as she tries to fight back from her injuries. Her workouts have had to change and she’s had to approach her training differently.“Even my jumping drills have to be adjusted because I can’t do the drills I’m used to,” Vieira said. “The whole season at practice, it’s been rough. I’ve been biking a lot because I can’t do a lot of sprinting. The most sprinting I’ve done is honestly down the runway for my jumps. It’s been an adjustment.”
Vieira wanted to go after her HHS jumps coach Tierra Gourdine’s 200-meter record, but never had that chance this year while limiting her events.
“The 200 requires a lot of power out of your legs so I haven’t been able to run the 200 this season,” Vieira explained. “Even though I’m a jumper, I started off running, and I still love running. That’s also been hard to deal with.”
Through it all, Vieira remained determined to compete at a high level. She managed to medal in both sectionals and groups, and advance in her specialty jump events.
“I honestly think it’s my coach,” Vieira said. “The way we click and the way we work together. She’s always been consistent with me so therefore I’ve always had sort of a database. She’s been there for me. She’s always helped me. She’s been someone to lean on. She’s always pushed me to want to get to these big meets.
“And also I’m a very competitive person to begin with. I throw little temper tantrums if I don’t qualify. So in order to avoid that, I try my best to get out there.”
Vieira knows the level of performance that it takes at the MOC. After going year after year, she has seen it all, and is ready for anything that could happen.
“My goal is just to place in top five and get through both of my jumps without hurting myself,” Vieira said. “I know that I can’t expect to walk away with two state titles, which was my original goal. I had to adjust that clearly. I’ve learned to accept that. It’s out of my hands. I’m looking at this point to finish off my senior year as best I can because that’s really my only option. I’m OK with that.” 