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Tucker rewriting record book

Placer sophomore takes down long jump record after setting 100-meter mark last season
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Placer High track and field coach Mark Chamberlin might want to use the element of surprise on sophomore Meghan Tucker more often. Earlier this month, the coach notified his young star on a Friday that she would be competing at the Bob King/Don Gilbert Invitational in Granite Bay the next morning. “I had to get up early and I got there and I was feeling tired,” Tucker said. A little sunshine and an excellent warm-up session did wonders. Tucker was well known for her sprinting talents and on March 10 she made a name for herself in the long jump. She soared 17 feet, 5 inches, demolishing her previous best by a full foot and setting a new Placer school record. “I had to think about it at first, but when I found out it was a school record I was really happy,” Tucker said. “I’ve been thinking about breaking the record (17-4 ½) for a while.” Tucker now owns two school records. Last season as a freshman, she ran the fastest 100-meter time in Hillgals’ history, clocking in at 12.5 seconds. LeeAnn Kleefield joined the Placer staff as an assistant coach this spring and she said Tucker wasted no time in impressing her with both her talent and character. “She’s a very quick study,” said Kleefield, who coaches the Placer sprinters with her husband Rich. “In the years I’ve coach track and field, she has some of the best form I’ve seen. Her form is impeccable. You tell her to tweak something and she does it right away. She’s an incredible athlete and an incredible person.” Tucker said her speed comes from her father. “He always brags about it,” she said. It was clear several years ago that Tucker was destined for greatness. As a sixth grader at E.V. Cain she competed on the outstanding eighth grade 400-meter relay team. As workouts have gotten more grueling and coaches have schooled her on every minute detail, Tucker has soaked it in. “It’s not too hard to stay focused,” she said. “The workouts are always different and it’s always nice to see how much you’re improving.” Kleefield said she didn’t tell Tucker she was going to compete in the long jump until the day of the meet in Granite Bay. Tucker made one jump, got a few pointers from assistant coach Brett Belanger, and then took off on her historic leap. “Good runners usually make good jumpers,” Kleefield said. “You need to be able to get down the runway. She changed a few things on her jump this year and it’s working for her.” Tucker is leading the Hillgals into a new era this spring. Chamberlin took over as head coach after Rick Foley stepped away after nearly a decade at the helm. While the team is smaller, Placer figures to be a favorite for the Pioneer Valley League crown. League competition begins Wednesday, with the Hillgals visiting Center. “We lost a lot of good seniors last year, but we’re coming along pretty good,” Tucker said. She is hoping to add to the Placer record book some more this spring, but Tucker – patient and mature beyond her years – said the records aren’t her main focus. “I just want to stay consistent,” she said. “I hope to get around a PR each meet, but mostly I just need to be consistent and not all over the place.”