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Kieffer-Wright reaches new heights

Track and Field: South Pasadena sophomore leaper wins both an individual CIF State championship and a CIF Southern Section Division III team and individual championship.

July 20, 2012|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
(Raul Roa staff potographer )

SOUTH PASADENA — A season's worth of aspirations came full circle for South Pasadena High sophomore Claire Kieffer-Wright on June 2 at Buchanan High Memorial Stadium in Clovis.

Kieffer-Wright clinched the area's first CIF State Track and Field individual championship in two years by tying her previous personal record jump of 5 feet, 10 inches, which was nearly an inch better than second place and placed her second to none.

The prodigious high jumper's amazing season, which included setting two new Rio Hondo League records and helping her team win a CIF Southern Section Division III championship, was capped the same way she started less than six months earlier in Fresno.

That is to say, Kieffer-Wright, this year's All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, as voted by the sports writers and editors of the Pasadena Sun, La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader, was flat out dominant.

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"I was a little surprised to win at state because there was a lot of good competition," Kieffer-Wright said. "But I also wasn't that surprised. I knew what I was capable of doing and I've set myself to higher standards since the season started."

Kieffer-Wright's first great jump of 2012 came during the offseason on Jan. 21 at the California Indoor State Meet at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, five miles southwest of Buchanan High.

The dual-sport athlete, who last hit 5-3 at the 2011 CIF-SS Masters Meet as a freshman, set a new indoor meet record with a winning leap of 5-8, an instant personal best that also broke the meet mark of 5-6 set by Temecula's Malia Cravens in 2010.

"When I look back, that was kind of the start of this year. I was surprised to win because I wasn't even doing an eight-step approach, I was doing a six-step approach and I cleared 5-8 for the first time," Kieffer-Wright said. "Going there, I wasn't planning on winning. But from that point on, my goal was to win state."

Prospects continued to soar for Kieffer-Wright as the season officially began, especially when she hit a new personal best and then state-leading 5-10 at a league dual meet versus Blair on March 22.

"There was no questioning her talent. I thought she was capable of 5-10, if not 6 feet," South Pasadena assistant CB Richards said. "The only thing that might have been surprising is how quickly she hit the mark. Most seniors will never get to 5-10 and here's a sophomore nailing that height."

For a while, though, the accomplishment seemed unlikely to be duplicated.

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