Times Sports Editor
Northview's Leeanna Knight was down to her final jump at the IHSAA State Finals on Friday night and she'd scratched on her previous two attempts in the third flight. However, her third and final jump of the meet was one that catapulted her past her regional winning distance and into an 18th-place finish at Indiana University.
Knight jumped 16-9 ½ on that final jump, which might have made most athletes happy just to have registered a qualifying distance. However, Knight isn't a typical athlete and her mindset following the competition is what separates her from many others.
Perhaps the best attribute for an athlete is to never be satisfied with what they have accomplished. For Knight, just a sophomore, there will be plenty more goals to achieve as her high school career continues next year.
Her coach, Cole Schroer, agreed that Knight has overcome plenty to reach the level that she has to this point, but there is plenty to look forward to in the future.
"Just getting here is a huge accomplishment. I don't know if she realizes that or not. I think she's disappointed that she didn't reach her goal. She's had a lot of injury problems and she overcame them to get here. I couldn't be more proud of her. I think eventually she'll realize it and be proud of it too. I already told her this, 'We've got a lot of work to do, but she's only going to get better.'"
After competing at the regional last season at less than 100 percent after injuring an ankle in the sectional while winning the long jump, Knight admitted that it was good to compete at a high level once again.
"It is definitely nice to be healthy," Knight said following her flight of jumps. "Sometimes during the season it felt like I wasn't completely there yet. This was a great experience. I think next year that I'll be a little more prepared and I won't be quite as nervous. I need to work on getting stronger."
Knight's work ethic is one that has drawn notice and Schroer mentioned that she possesses a lot of the same attributes that elite athletes have, which should continue to benefit her maturation as a sprinter and a jumper.
"She has that drive that not everybody has. Even if she would have made her goal, I think she would have been disappointed that she didn't jump even a little bit farther. That is just how Leeanna is," Schroer said.
"There were only a couple of freshmen and a couple of sophomores (in the state finals long jump). There's a lot of promise for the future and I'm looking forward to it."
Westview senior Skyler Carpenter repeated as the state champion in the event with a jump of 18-10 ½ to edge Homestead's Ariane Nelson.
Schroer, a former Clay City High School standout and collegiate track and field competitor, looks forward to what the future holds for Knight.
"When you are willing to work hard you can go as far as you want to go," Schroer said of Knight's work ethic. "I wasn't an amazing athlete, but because I worked hard I went as far as I wanted to go. Leeanna is the same way, except that she's a ridiculous athlete and that is a combination that you don't get very often. I think she can do amazing things at the next level."