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Six feet of separation for high jumper Claire Keiffer-Wright

South Pasadena High junior enjoyed a banner season in which she won invitational crowns, a league title and advanced to state in two events.

July 31, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

After a sophomore season in which South Pasadena High's Claire Kieffer-Wright won a CIF State individual championship, led her squad to a CIF Southern Section Division III team title and was named the All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, there remained one big question.

Could the junior repeat?

"Had success come early? Sure, that's something we thought about briefly," South Pasadena High jumps coach Eugene Hutchinson said. "Had Claire done too much, too early in her career? Would the desire be there? We thought about that for a little, but only a little."

While Kieffer-Wright's 2012 success revolved around her state-winning high jump mark of 5 feet, 10 inches, her 2013 season didn't include a state crown.

Yet, it could be argued that Kieffer-Wright's just-concluded track and field season proved that the 16-year-old South Pasadena resident was more than a one-jump wonder.

"Going into my sophomore year, I think most people thought of me as a volleyball player, including myself," Kieffer-Wright said. "Then I won the state title, which was amazing, and I had friends asking me what it was like and what I was going to do next and if I could do it again."

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The University of Michigan-bound high jumper outdid herself in leaping to new heights, winning new titles and being unanimously voted the All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Pasadena Sun, La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.

The pinnacle of Kieffer-Wright's sophomore campaign was no doubt winning a state title by matching a personal-best jump of 5-10.

Yet, even on that day of immense success, Kieffer-Wright missed three attempts to surpass that distance.

For a while, the 5-10 mark was as much a success as it was a plateau.

"I always seemed to be a little off," Kieffer-Wright said of attempts to go beyond 5-10. "I would misstep or hit the bar or something else would happen."

That was, however, until April 20.

During the invitational high jump competition, in front of an estimated crowd of more than 7,000 people at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, Kieffer-Wright leaped to 6 feet in her third attempt at the height during the 66th annual Mt. San Antonio College Relays.

Kieffer-Wright became the instant state leader and broke the previous Mt. SAC high school record of 5-10 set by five-time U.S. Olympian Amy Acuff in 1984.

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