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Nielsen going to great lengths

Bear River star taking aim at Masters gold after winning Division III team title, by herself
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Kendal Nielsen may be from a small town, but her explosive jumping skills are earning her a big reputation. The Bear River High junior, who competes in the triple jump, long jump, 100-meter and 200-meter events in track and field, single-handedly earned Bear River a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title last week. Nielsen broke the Division III record in triple jump, leaping 37 feet, 11 inches, almost a foot better than the previous record of 37-0¾, set last year by Brienna Crimmins of Rosemont. She also placed first in the long jump and took fourth place in both the 100 and 200 meters. “Going into it I knew I could get the record. I broke it by almost a foot, so I was very pleased with that,” Nielsen said. “I started a weight training program in winter one to two days per week because I realized how important it is to get stronger. My goal is to get a (Masters) title for jumping.” At Masters, Nielsen will compete in the long jump today and the triple jump on Friday. While Nielsen has a native athletic ability according to Bear River coach Chris Davis, her background has made her especially powerful in the jumping events. “I think for me it just came natural because I used to do gymnastics,” Nielsen said. “I learned to like it because I was good at it. I had good body awareness.” Jumping and sprints have many similarities, but also stark contrasts, according to Nielsen. The two have gone hand in hand for her though. “In jumping for example, you don’t try to sprint your hardest because you will lose control,” Nielsen said. “They are also really similar. Having speed down the runway helps you jump far.” Nielsen said she hopes to take her jumping skills to the collegiate level, as well as sprint as part of a relay team. Davis said her efforts are not in vain. “Kendal is in her junior year and each year she has competed for us at Bear River, her poise, presence and dedication to the sport has improved and increased,” Davis said. “She is without a doubt the best track athlete I have been connected to.” Davis said that aside from her natural athleticism, Nielsen has a tremendous work ethic. She maintains a 4.2 GPA and is enrolled in several AP classes. Her personal trainer, Michael Reid, who has been responsible for most of Nielsen’s training for the past year and half, said he can already tell she is a Division I school candidate. “The thing that is most fun for me is being from Auburn she isn’t used to the notoriety,” Reid said. “She is jumping exceptionally well. It isn’t normal for a junior in high school to be doing as well as she is.” Reid said that her ability to be coached, perform under pressure and perfectionism have all been factors in her success. While Reid has had a successful coaching career at American River College, he places Nielsen in the top three of all of the athletes he has coached. This year, he took a more direct instructional role. Reid felt it was important Nielsen compete in more meets, including indoor events, with jumpers from across the country. Reid said he foresees Nielsen realizing her section-title goal Thursday and Friday at Masters. State will be more of a challenge. “I see her winning one if not both (jumping) events this coming weekend,” Reid said. “I think we will find us in a situation of growth at the state meet. She will be competing against a lot of senior jumpers and in a new venue. In that situation her age and nerves come into play. We’re not quite bulletproof yet.” Nielsen’s competition will include Logan-Union City senior Ciarra Brewer, who had the best mark in the nation this year in the triple jump (41-.975)and most recently won the Sacramento Meet of Champions. Clovis High’s Jenna Prandini, whose jumping skills will take her to the University of Oregon in fall, is also a top contender. Reid said Nielsen won’t balk at the challenge. “I call her the great white shark because she has no fear and no trepidation — except for reaching her goal,” Reid said. “And that is to be the best — not just in track. She could be one of the greatest female athletes to ever come out of the area.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.