Jackie Goleman leads a medal-hungry De Soto team to the state track meet
Jackie Goleman will participate in three events Friday and Saturday at the state track meet in Wichita.
That is not new ground. The Wildcat junior ran in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles races and jumped in the high jump a year ago as well.
But if things go well, competing in those three events will be the only thing similar to last year's state meet.
The volleyball, basketball and track standout has come a long way since she last ventured to Wichita seeking state gold, and now she's more prepared than ever to earn a championship.
Goleman has emerged throughout the 2005-2006 school year. It's been a theme in each sport she's taken part.
She bubbled to the surface to help lead the girls volleyball team to a better than .500 record.
She established herself as one of the area's premier basketball forwards and led her team in points and rebounds.
And now she's running and jumping better than she ever has.
"She has grown up," said Brian Dinkel, who has coached Goleman since her freshman season. "You can tell her mental attitude toward things has changed. She wasn't negative toward anything before, but she had the underclassman 'Oh, we have to do this?'
"Now it's 'Alright, let's get this done.'"
It's a change in attitude that started in the weight room, Goleman said.
Molded to be a standout athlete, she said none of her achievements this year -- not the one's she's already accomplished nor the ones she hopes to add this weekend -- would be possible without offseason workouts.
That, and a mental decision to try and fill in where graduating stars left gapping holes has paid off big, she said.
"I finally realized that I needed to step up," she said Tuesday, taking a breather during one of her final pre-state warm ups. "If I didn't do weights, I wouldn't be as strong as I am for basketball or volleyball. For track, I have a lot more endurance than I did last year. I feel like I'm a lot stronger."
Maybe the 300 hurdles best demonstrates Goleman's newfound strength, but it is in high jump she's hoping the added muscle can pay off.
Goleman said she's added 1-? inches to her vertical jump, and she's already tied for the best jump in the state. She's cleared 5-foot-4 inches three times this season, and is confident she can win the race to add the extra two inches.
"Jumping 5-4 should get me second place," she said. "Getting 5-6 should seal up first."
And first is the goal.
Goleman's best chances -- 5-6 or not -- may lie in her consistency. Dinkel said she rarely falters on the ascent to 5-6. With two other competitors clearing 5-4 at their respective regionals, reaching the mark with the fewest misses could crown a champion.
"If she goes through to 5-4 without any misses, she's going to be right there in contention for the gold," Dinkel said. "She's been jumping really well this year and if she gets 5-6, unless someone just does something amazing, she'll get the gold. She's pretty darn good."
Goleman's second-best event should be the 100 hurdles. She finished second at Friday's regional and her time of 15.8 seconds ranks eighth among the 16 who will run -- a mark that will put her right on the edge of a medal.
But, with such a short race and the variable that is a wall of hurdles stretched between the starting blocks and the finish line, about anything can happen, Dinkel said.
"There's a few girls that are a few seconds faster than she is, but if she runs a full race and doesn't hit any hurdles, she has as good a shot as any of finishing in the top three," he said.
Goleman's regional time of 48 seconds ranks 10th in the 300 hurdles among those qualified at state.
No matter how Goleman finishes in her events, it's hard not to envision the weekend as a preview for what could be a dynamic 2006-2007 athletic season.
She should be able to run and leap her way to at least a medal, capping an incredibly successful nine-month stretch, but even Dinkel couldn't help but wonder: What's around the corner?
"Jackie has developed into one of the leaders on the track team. She's a junior now and she has started to step up by voicing her opinion on things and showing her work ethic," he said. "She's shown a lot more maturity this year, so I'm kind of excited to see what she brings next year as a senior. She's the best female hurdler I've coached."