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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 9, 2011

“She looks like a dancer”
Diamente heading to states as Section II leader in two field events

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Catalena Diamente parted ways with gymnastics two years ago because of back problems. Since then, she’s turned herself into a first-class jumper for the Lady Dutch.

Diamente, a junior, went to the state qualifying meet on Friday in Johnstown and won two separate events. She was first in the triple jump with a distance of 37 feet, 11 inches, and first in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 2 inches.

The Guilderland triple-jump record is held by Diamente at 38 feet, 2 inches, and she’s won every triple jump event she’s competed in this season. She also has the long-jump record at 16 feet, 11 inches. However, placing first in high jump on Friday was quite astonishing for her.

“It was a surprise, sure,” Diamente said this week. “I kind of got thrown in there. It can be difficult going from horizontal to vertical, but it’s something else to work on. Doing both makes things a little more tricky.”

Head Coach Dick Usher, who has spent a lot of time helping Diamente, was also surprised that she won high jump on Friday. “We don’t spend much time on high jump because she has a bad back,” Usher said. “It’s something for her to fall back on.”

If Diamente can use high jump as a reserve while still being the best in Section II, then she totally dominates in triple jump.

“She looks like a dancer,” Usher said of Diamente’s appearance. “It’s amazing what she has accomplished. Remarkable. She has enthusiasm and a goal of being the best.”

The triple jump has been a modern Olympics event since the Games’ launch in 1896. The competitors run down the track and carry out a hop, a bound, and then a jump into a sand pit. It’s a difficult maneuver because an athlete lands on one leg while moving quickly.

Diamente told The Enterprise that she goes “too high” on her hop. She said she’s getting better with her hop while trying to lengthen each of the three individual parts.

“I work on it every day,” Diamente said. “You have to put all the steps and elements together. If you have a hop that is too high, then the jump is shorter and less powerful. Getting better at the hop is the key for all the rest if I can get it right.”

If Diamente does, indeed, have a high hop, it doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. She’s always finishing in first place.

“She’s been hitting the weight room for strength,” said Usher, who went on to talk about the bound, which is also referred to as the step or the leap. “She has a great bound because of the plyometric drills that she does.”

For Diamente’s plyometric drills, Usher sets up a bunch of boxes. Diamente will bound on one box and jump over another. “You can only do it in moderation,” said Usher, “because it breaks the athletes down.”

The State Meet is this weekend in Caledonia and Diamente should have a worthy shot at the triple jump title for Division I. She placed sixth in the state competition for indoor track this year.

“I’m excited to represent my team,” said Diamente, who hopes to jump in college while studying physical therapy. She’s gone through physical therapy for her back.

“I don’t know who I’ll be going up against this weekend,” she said. “I guess we’ll see.”

Diamente said that she has a personal goal of reaching 39 feet in the triple jump. The female world record is 50 feet, 10–and-a-quarter-inches.

“You never know. I could have a really good day,” Diamente said. “I just enjoy getting better. A great jump feels really good.”

Usher has been coaching track and field at Guilderland for 30 years. He’s seen plenty of great female athletes in his day.

“She’s the best triple jumper, long jumper, and close to being the best high jumper,” said Usher. “Oh, and she can run, too.”

Other qualifiers

Here’s a list of other local track and field athletes who qualified for the State Meet in Caledonia this weekend. The top two finishers in each event clinch a spot on the Section II team.

–– Brandon Kallner, Berne-Knox-Westerlo, first place, pentathlon, 3,163 points;

–– Vinny Saccocio; Voorheesville; first place; pole vault; 12 feet, 9 inches;

–– Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ 3200-meter relay (Connor Devine, Sean Reynolds, Derek Struck, and Adam Forti), first place, 8:08.58;

–– Caitlin Abelseth, Voorheesville, second place, 400-meter, 1:00.03;

–– Keegan Nally, Voorheesville, second place, 400-meter, 51.77;

–– Tim Stewart; Voorheesville; second place; high jump; 6 feet; and

–– Ben Becker; Berne-Knox-Westerlo; second place; pole vault; 12 feet, 9 inches.

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