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Monroe's Land wins Junior Olympic high jump title

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Nothing to it.

At least that's the way Mimieux Land looks at the big stage. Land is one of those athletes who just fills up the limelight, just fits under the harshest lights -- the kind of star who is going to shine wherever she stands.

Stepping onto the national spotlight comes naturally to Land, who started competing in national track and field meets when she was 10. That's why when she stepped onto the jumping pit Thursday to compete in the high jump in the U.S.A. Track & Field National Junior Olympics, it was more about strategy than nerves.

"I wasn't really nervous,'' said Land, who won the national title in the 16-17 age group by clearing the bar at 5-7. She barely missed 5-9, which would have equaled her personal best.

"I knew there would be great competition here,'' Land added. "There was one girl who came in with a 5-9, but she missed on her three jumps and went out early before me. I knew all I had to do was keep my same mindset and not let that throw me off my game. I just needed to stay focused all the way.''

Land, who is competing with the Albany Ruff Riders Track Club, has a chance to win three national titles this week. She will compete in the triple jump today and the long jump Sunday. She won all three events and set a state record in the triple jump during the Class AAA state meet this spring for Monroe High on a grueling hot afternoon as she had to go from event to event.

The weather is much cooler in Sacramento, and Land will have a day in between events, which should help. She doesn't need any help in finding her confidence. She first ran in a national meet for the Ruff Riders when she was 10 as a member of the 4x100 relay team, and won the national title in the high jump two years ago in the 13-14 age group. She was second last year in the high jump, but came back to win the title in the oldest age group this year.

"It feels good to be No. 1,'' said Land, who will be a junior at Monroe when school begins on Monday. "It's acceptable. I really wanted my PR of 5-9, and I just missed it. I was hoping to get 5-11 this time.''

Land knows it will be difficult to win three events at the nationals.

"If I win all three, it would be very satisfying -- not just for myself, but for all of my supporters who helped me get back here," she said.

The Ruff Riders brought 20 kids -- 14 girls and six boys -- who qualified for the nationals from Albany, and received donations for the week-long event.