CINCINNATI -- Loretta Blaut has a rare talent: She can jump her own height. That's quite a feat for someone who stands 6-feet-2-inches tall.
She set high jump record at the University of Cincinnati two weeks ago during the American Conference Track and Field Championships, where she was named the Women’s Outstanding Performer of the Meet.
Not bad for an athlete who favored basketball over track when she went to Seton High School.
"The track coach at my school said, 'Come out and high jump for me, and I'll get you to be able to dunk a basketball,' so I gave it shot," Blaut said.
She gave it her best. In her very first season as a high jumper, she won state. That got her noticed by a lot of coaches, including Chris Wineberg at UC. He liked her athleticism, but also appreciated her personality and willingness to work.
"Loretta has been an amazing student of the sport and really challenges herself to perfect her technique," he said.
Technique is paramount in high jumping. Her practices are broken into segments. We watched her simply stand still and do backflips over a bar for several minutes. Then she worked on her start and her approach.
"You aim to peak at the end of the year, so as you work, you’re tweaking things, and it’s just miniscule things, maybe a millisecond difference between getting a new height or not," she said.
School is out, but Blaut’s season will continue. She qualified Thursday for the NCAA Finals, which will be held the second week of June in Eugene, Oregon.