Those watching the closing stages of last Sunday’s Senior Girls High Jump at the NZSSA Track and Field Championships in Dunedin on Sunday had every had reason to be confident a 28-year meet record might be broken.
“I cleared 1.75m and so had Imogen Skelton [Samuel Marsden Collegiate]. She missed the next height which would have been 1.78m, but I cleared that on my first jump and that was the winner,” back-to-back champion Josephine Reeves of Chilton St James School, Lower Hutt explained.
The last competitor left, Josephine attempted to go higher. “I did 1.81m on my first attempt and then I did 1.83m on my first attempt too, which was also a PB. That is also six feet, so a good height to jump.”
The meet record of 1.84m was set by Carmell Corbett in 1990. The bar was raised to 1.85m. But it was not to be, Josephine missing her three attempts at a new record.
Nevertheless, she was delighted with her win. “If I had jumped 1.85m it would also have been a new New Zealand U18 record.”
That New Zealand record was set in 2009 by Elizabeth Lamb, who later competed in the Commonwealth Games and is third on the all-time list of highest jumps by a NZ female at 1.90m. Josephine’s mark of 1.83m places her 11th equal on that list.
Josephine’s performance more than met her expectations heading into the meet. “I was confident of placing but I wasn’t sure how I would jump on the day and also how Imogen Skelton would jump.”
Josephine and Imogen are good friends and training partners in Wellington.
“Kate Davies [Villa Maria College] came third. She is a younger jumper and she jumped a PB of 1.69m.”
Conditions at the Caledonian Ground were windy, slowing down times on the track. Josephine said the high jump at one end of the track was mostly sheltered. “For the last two heights the wind picked up a bit but it wasn’t too bad.”
Josephine’s form at the NZSSA Championships continues a steady improvement over the past two years.
“I have been doing athletics since I was young and the high jump since Colgate Games but it was two North Island’s [NISS Championships] ago in April 2017 when I jumped my previous PB of 1.76m and also broke the Intermediate record and that was when I really improved. At the start of that season my PB was only 1.50m.
She then jumped 1.71m to win the high jump as a year 12 last December in Hastings in both her first national schools meet and her first as a senior.
Earlier this year, she went to the USA to compete in the 40th annual Simplot Games indoor meet in Idaho.
“That was when I set my indoor PB of 1.80m and I won that event, against mostly Americans and one Australian.”
Chilton St James sent a small but top performing team to nationals.
As well as Josephine defending her senior high jump title, Elizabeth Hewitt was second in the Junior Girls Shot Put, year 12 runner Charlotte Floodsmith-Ryan was fourth in the Senior Girls 800m and Katelyn Sceats was ninth in the Year 9 Girls 3km road race.
Naturally, high jump is Josephine’s main focus. “I used to play netball at school and was a defender, and also orienteering which I still do.”
Now that she has just finished school, Josephine is just taking it things as they come. She plans on competing over the summer and moving into next year training and working in Wellington.
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