All The Small Things

Lee-Huang Chen/New University

After the end of her junior season, Madeline LeDuc went straight to training. She wasn’t satisfied with her performance on the triple jump that year, with her season best mark of 39 feet, 8 and 1/2 inches, so she wasted little time to get herself ready for her senior year. Knowing she had greater potential that had yet to be fulfilled, she switched up her training regimen. Unlike her previous year where she focused on heavy lifting, LeDuc spent more time on sprinting and light lifting. She changed her diet and controlled her weight in order to have a body that could jump further on the triple jump. LeDuc’s determination paid off when she broke the 24-year-old triple jump school record held by Karin Grelsson.

LeDuc’s potential to break the record was revealed at the Cal/Nevada Championship on March 27 when LeDuc jumped 40 feet, 6 inches, placing her second in the UCI record books, three inches away from breaking Grelsson’s top mark. The 2007 CIF triple jump champion proved she had potential to be a top record holder.

Fast forward to April 14. LeDuc was ecstatic to compete close to her hometown at the 53rd Annual Mt. SAC Relay. Not only was this event the place “Where the World’s Best Athletes Compete,” this was also the track where she trained throughout her high school career, giving her the perfect stage to break the UCI triple jump record. Sadly, the result did not turn out with the storybook ending that LeDuc had hoped for. Out of the 25 competitors who entered the triple jump competition, LeDuc gave her worst performance of the season, scratching out on all three runs at her home track. Though the result left her frustrated and down, she calmly managed to let those results go and kept moving forward.

“In the past three years after meets I did badly in, I would just be crying and be upset for hours. At this point now I’m a little older with a lot more experience,” LeDuc said. “It’s one of those things where I look at a bad performance and know that there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s over with. I’ve got to move on and get back to work.”

LeDuc got back to practice and decided to make a major switch. Although she was accustomed to jumping off a 32-foot board all her life, she knew that the next couple competitions would only provide 36-foot boards, so she began training on it. The switch certainly offset her mental rhythm and timing on her hop, step and jump, but she knew this change was crucial.

In her next event, the Orange County Dual, LeDuc managed to notch first place in the triple jump after practicing on the 36-foot board; however, she was dissatisfied with her performance.

“I got a 39’ 10” at that meet and I wasn’t happy with that because at this point I shouldn’t be going under 40 feet. I should be a 40-foot jumper,” LeDuc said. “I didn’t feel technique-wise I really did well because my marks weren’t that good.”

At the 17th Annual Asics/Steve Scott Invitational at Anteater Stadium, LeDuc knew that her potential could shine at this event. She knew the record could be broken anytime soon and it could be done at this event. After minutes of warming up for the triple jump, LeDuc looked over the stadium and saw that all the girls in the competition were finished with their runs. LeDuc panicked, believing she was late and rushed down the field to do her runs on time.

After scratching her first two runs, LeDuc kept calm and proceeded to do her final run. While she ran her course, she knew her technique was off on the first phase; however, she kept her mind focused on the jump. After doing her step and jump the way she planned, LeDuc knew from the moment she landed that she made a high mark. As she got her score from the official, she discovered that she set a new personal record, but she went into her personal notebook to see if she broke the school record. Her mark was 41 feet, 2 and 1/4 inches. The previous school record was 40 feet, 9 and 1/2 inches. LeDuc’s face glowed in excitement upon this discovery, and moments later found herself hugging her family and being congratulated by her teammates and coach.

With two meets left in the season, LeDuc has her eyes set on improving her personal record and remaining in the top 45 rankings in order to make it to the regionals. Though she came a long way, her journey through her final season is far from over.

“Track is hard because you never know if you can go far. This year I’ve been trying really hard to do everything I can. I don’t feel like I will say, ‘Oh I should’ve done this and that,’” LeDuc said. “All the small things you do like getting good sleep and watching what you eat will add up and come together to help you jump further.”