After her freshman year at Ithaca College, Emilia Scheemaker of Scarborough had a little internal chat with herself.
A former two-time Maine state champion in the triple jump, Scheemaker had struggled in her first year of college track. She wasn’t totally sold on her college choice, either.
“Freshman year was really rough for me. When you go to college, it’s pretty common that you don’t hit any of your high school marks,” Scheemaker said. “You’re adjusting to being away from home, a new team, new diet, everything. I was in a huge slump so you start thinking, ‘maybe track is not for me.’
“Sophomore year I just decided, I’m going to school and I’m going to like Ithaca,” she continued. “It was just an attitude adjustment and I started doing (track) because I wanted to, instead of it just being something I’d always done.”
Last year as a sophomore, Scheemaker qualified for both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Division III championships, placing ninth indoors.
This year she’s breaking through more barriers – like the 40-foot mark in the triple jump.
On Jan. 26 she broke her own school record with a triple jump of 12.25 meters, which equates to 40 feet, 2.25 inches. It is the longest jump in Division III this season. Said Scheemaker: “It was a huge benchmark for me. Forty feet is what defines a good triple jumper.”
She backed that up last weekend by winning both the triple jump and long jump at the Empire 8 conference meet, earning Field Athlete of the Meet honors. Her triple of 12.07 meters set the conference meet record and her 5.50-meter long jump was “my first 18-foot long jump. That was really exciting,” she said.
Scheemaker credits her event coach Mary Wallenbeck for keeping her upbeat with “infinite optimism.”
A weight-lifting program has also made her more explosive.
Ithaca Associate Professor Greg Shelley has worked with the team as a sports psychology consultant. Scheemaker said Wallenbeck and Shelley have helped her embrace the notion that she is capable of winning a national championship.
“I’m the best jumper in Division III right now, so that’s a huge ego boost and I just have to believe it,” Scheemaker said. “Right now I have everything I need to be successful. Greg Shelley, he’s an amazing guy. He’s been telling me this for three weeks and I’m just starting to believe it enough to actually say it. I know it makes me sound arrogant when I say it out loud, but it is true and that’s where I need to be mentally.”
Scheemaker is looking to add about five more inches to her long jump. She figures that will be enough to secure qualification for both events at the indoor nationals at Nebraska-Wesleyan, March 14-15. Currently she is tied for ninth in the long jump.
In the meantime she’ll continue to juggle athletics with a demanding double major of biology and writing. This semester she’s “taking a break” from her typical 18-credit course load. She has 171/2 credits.
“This weekend we’re going to the (Boston University) Valentine Invitational. That’s six and a half hours on a bus. I am really looking forward to having that much uninterrupted time for school work.”
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Colby College sophomore Emily Tolman, a former high school teammate of Scheemaker’s at Scarborough High, recently won the 400 meters at the Bowdoin College Women’s Indoor Invitational. Tolman earned All-America honors last season as part of Colby’s 4×400 relay team that finished fourth indoors and second outdoors at the NCAA meets.
• University of Maine senior Justin Gagne of Biddeford won the men’s shot put in a dual meet against Holy Cross last weekend. Gagne’s throw of 57 feet, 0.25 inches won the event by nearly 15 feet.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
Bentley University sophomore diver Nicola Mancini of Falmouth will be looking to maintain her undefeated season at this weekend’s Northeast-10 Championships. Mancini won both the one-meter and three-meter conference championships as a freshman. Earlier this week she was named the NE-10’s Female Diver of the Week for the eighth time this season after winning both events in a meet against Bridgewater State. Her one-meter score was her second-best this season and her three-meter mark was her third-best.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: