Jumper can qualify if she stays in 3rd place


Yang Chen

Kia Clayton is training for dash running for the Kent State (Ohio) University Invitational Feb. 8 at the Wellness Center.

Yang Chen, Sports Editor

Pitt-Johnstown track and field coaches are striving to get an athlete qualified for the NCAA track competition.

Senior Kia Clayton is third in the Pensylvania State Athletic Conference in the triple jump.

If she maintains third place in the conference, she will qualify for the national competition.

Track and field head coach Carl Keifer said Clayton was in second place in the conference, but she dropped to third Feb. 1, at the Youngstown (Ohio) State University Invitational.

“She was just behind her opponents from Shippensburg by 6 inches,” Keifer said.

“She beat (Shippensburg) opponents  last year, and she will beat them again in (this) Friday (in the) Kent State (Ohio) University Invitational,” Keifer said.

“I have set plans for our athletes to go back for basics,” Keifer said.

“We need to go back to fix little things during our training.

“Clayton needs to improve her second phase, and I have set up new plans like depth jump for her to jump longer.

“I want to see the athletes jump higher, and further, and run faster in (this) Friday’s invitational,” Keifer said.

Clayton said she has been working on building speed and strength.

“Having those two skills adds that little push I need in every jump,” she said.

“My biggest help this year has been coach Chris Matava. He is always pushing me to work hard at practice and be better than I was last meet.

“He makes workouts for each of us depending on what he saw at the last meet that we need to work on, and I really appreciate all of the time and effort he has put in for me and the rest of the team.

“I try my best to just focus on what I can do and how I can move up in the rankings, rather than focusing on who is in front of me or behind me,” Clayton said.

Clayton said she started to get more dash training for speed, and more plyo boxes jumping for leg strength. 

Matava said Clayton’s plan is to keep her legs fresh and healthy.

“We are just trying to fine tune her techniques. We have incorporated a little more running drills in her training routine.

“She will continue to do what she has done every week. There is a lot of competition, but she will not shy away from anyone.

“She has a great opportunity in front of her,” Matava said.

Some athletes said that being yelled at by Matava helped them.

“It is my way of trying to get the most out of the athletes, knowing I am there watching and wanting them to meet their goals,” Matava said.

“I know I am loud, but I prefer to call it loud, positive encouragement.

“If it was restrictive or hindering in any way, I would adjust to meet the athlete’s need in another motivational way. It is all about them.

“I would like to see this program keep growing. These student-athletes here right now are raising the bar. It is my privilege to work with such a group,” Matava said.