By Marty Gordon
Blacksburg High School senior Katja Kehlenbeck cleared 5’5” at the Nike Indoor Nationals track meet last week to claim the national championship.
Her jump was the second highest indoor mark in the history of Blacksburg High School.
Kehlenbeck said she had absolutely no idea that it was remotely possible she could win the national championship.
“My approach has become more consistent, and I’ve gained more muscle compared to me from last year, and my overall mental state has improved, and I’m getting rid of my mental block,” Kehlenbeck said. “I’ve worked on my sleep schedule and have been doing visualizations during practice, and doing that is a big aspect for me to be able to high jump.”
The mark would have placed 14th at the recent Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor collegiate championships, and Kehlenbeck does have some higher aspirations, maybe even staying close to home at the next level.
“I want to go D1 for the high jump, I enjoy it way too much to not go forward with it,” Kehlenbeck said. “For college I was thinking about getting out of Blacksburg, but there’s always the possibility that I would stay here to go to Virginia Tech.
“I’m not really going for a specific height but having the school record for indoor and outdoor and having a state champion title again along with the height of 5-8 would be nice to obtain,” she said.
Kehlenbeck’s leap is a new personal record and is tied for first in Virginia’s Class 4 rankings with Hannah Pettyjohn of Jefferson Forest. Kehlenbeck did outjump Pettyjohn in the recent state indoor meet, finishing second. She finished fifth in last year’s outdoor state event with a mark of 5-0.
Paula Girven of Garfield High School holds the Virginia record at 6-1.25 set in 1975.