ST. JOSEPH (WCIA) — Atleigh Hamilton had her sights set on history. Only one girl in IHSA history has ever won four straight long jump titles, but after winning her freshman and sophomore seasons, COVID had other plans.
“I feel like it was a pause. I won, I won, and no one has beat me still,” says Hamilton.
Now the St. Joseph-Ogden athlete is back competing more than a year after her junior season was shut down, and over the extended offseason, Hamilton committed herself to getting better on the track — specifically the 200 and 400 meter dash.
“She was excellent about continuing to train on her own,” says head coach Kelly Steffen. “The fire was still lit even knowing it was going to be a long time before she got back on the track or the runway.”
“If I hadn’t, I don’t know how good of shape I’d be in now,” says Hamilton.
Hamilton also spent the offseason deciding her future, she chose to stay close and compete for Illinois State at the next level, signing with the Red Birds this week.
“I looked at a few other schools as well,” says Hamilton. “But I didn’t click with the coaches or team as well as I did with ISU.”
“Missouri Valley will be a great fit for her, I think it will definitely push her as she sees there’s a lot of competition even within that conference and beyond,” says Steffen.
Even though it’s no longer possible for her to match the record for long jump titles, Hamilton is still hoping her and the Spartans can make some noise in the postseason.
“Not having my season last year it gives me a chance to compete again at state, and I really hope this year goes well,” says Hamilton. “I feel like it gives us a second chance for what could have happened last year.”
With another title this season, Hamilton can become the eighth girl in IHSA history to have a perfect long jump record at state.