Emily Kianka keeps grounded while flying high

MileSplit.us recenty spoke with Emily Kianka, Hopewell Valley NJ, on her recent high jump successes, and what keeps her focused on improving each time she takes a jump.  Emily has competed at NIN for the last 3 years and will be looking for her first national title this coming weekend in Boston.





MileSplit.us:  You had quite a week last week, 5-11 at Eastern States and then a MOC victory and some good looks at 6 feet. How are you feeling about your fitness and performances so far?

Emily Kianka:
  At the time of Easterns and Meet of Champs there were two big snowstorms that really set me back on my training schedule. For the two weeks before Meet of Champs I wasn’t able to lift in the weight room due to snow days, meets, and a stomach virus, so I knew that the only thing I could do was focus more on the technical part of the high jump. As for my performances I am really happy with the heights I have been clearing so far, but since I set such high expectations for myself, I will never be truly satisfied with what height I’m at. I was really upset I did not clear six feet at Meet of Champs, but I just keep thinking about the feeling I had after my third attempt at 6 feet (which was my closest), that feeling will be sure to motivate me even more as we move forward in the season.

MileSplit.us:  When did you first discover your talent for the high jump?

Emily Kianka:  One day during seventh grade track, toward the end of a meet my teammates and I were sitting on the high jump mats, my friend who did high jump told me to try to jump over the bar just kind of joking around. Considering I never tried it before and I was more of a hurdler and sprinter than a high jumper, I did not think I was going to be able to make it, but I ended up clearing it by a lot. The coaches must have been watching because next meet I was competing in high jump. I ended up jumping 5 feet in middle school, which was the middle school record.

MileSplit.us:  Are you going to a national meet? If so, what are your expectations?

Emily Kianka:  I am attending the Nike Nationals in Boston next week. This will be my
fourth time competing at Nike Nationals.  I have two second place finishes and one fourth place finish from years past, but since this is my senior year and final high school indoor track meet I am going to go all out and try to become a National Champion. I know this will be very difficult considering in New Jersey alone we had 4 girls over 5-8. This will be the toughest competition in my high school career.

MileSplit.us:  What goes through your head as you prepare to approach the bar?

Emily Kianka:  I actually could not tell you what I think about as I approach the bar. I try not to over-think the high jump because high jump, in my opinion, is an event where you either have it or you don’t. As I get ready to go to my mark I think about what advice my coach tells me about how to adjust my jump or run.  I try to just have fun when I jump and always keep my confidence.

MileSplit.us:  Who has been your biggest inspiration for competing and excelling in T&F.

Emily Kianka:  My brother was a student at Hopewell (graduated in 1997) and he also participated in Track and Field. He was more of a sprinter, but being a younger sister I obviously wanted to be like my older brother. He had success in the 100, 200, and 400 and I wanted to have just as much success as him. He never participated in national meets or even in college but still just being able to follow my older brother‘s footsteps, with or without the high jump titles, is perfectly fine with me.

MileSplit.us:  What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your senior year?

Emily Kianka:  Most seniors would say for their senior year they want to win a county title, state title, etc. but for me it’s just to be the best I can be. If someone jumps better than me at a meet, then they deserve to win, and as long as I jumped the best I could that meet, that’s all that matters. Once the regular season starts in the spring, my goal is to win team titles, which means focusing more on sprints, hurdles, long jump, and triple jump. Once those team goals are accomplished, then I will start focusing more on my own goals in high jump. My individual goal for high jump is to clear 6 feet and hopefully keep improving a few inches at a time higher than 6 feet.

MileSplit.us:  What do you enjoy doing when you aren't competing or practicing?

Emily Kianka:  My life basically revolves around either competing or training for
track, which means I do not really have much free time. However, when I am not training I love to go to the beach and hang out with my friends like any normal teenager. I also really enjoy watching sporting events, especially the Olympics. I love any outdoor activity and I love coaching children camps in the summer. Being with the little kids makes me really excited about studying to become a teacher. Before this season I was playing soccer year round, but I decided that in order to succeed in the high jump that I needed to give soccer up completely.