Georgia’s Kate Hall competes in the women’s long jump on the second day of the NCAA outdoor college track and field championships Thursday in Eugene, Oregon.

On Friday, Kate Hall of Casco was still having trouble believing what she had accomplished.

The night before, she became the first Maine native in more than 50 years to win a title at the NCAA Division I track and field championships.

Hall, a redshirt freshman, broke her own school record and edged University of Georgia teammate Keturah Orji to win the long jump at the Division I outdoor championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Hall jumped 22 feet, 1 inch, on her first attempt, and her lead held up through the rest of the competition. Orji, a two-time NCAA triple jump champion, was the only other athlete who came close to Hall’s mark, but her best jump was 22-1/4.

“It was crazy, I really couldn’t believe it,” Hall said in a phone interview Friday. “It didn’t settle in even when I heard it.”

Hall’s jump was her second-best ever, behind only her national high school record of 22-5, set in 2015 at the New Balance Nationals. A diabetic, Hall was home-schooled in high school but won several state and New England indoor and outdoor track titles competing for Lake Region High School.


Chris Pribish, her trainer in Maine, said he told her that she would have a special performance at the NCAAs. “Earlier in week we talked about her last nationals, when she set the record,” he said. “I told her, ‘You’re going to do some crazy jumps.’ ”

But when the two spoke Friday morning, Hall still couldn’t believe she won the title. Pribish could.

“She keeps showing up and performing large,” said Pribish, the clinical director at United Medical Gym South Portland. “You know what she’s got in her. No one works harder than her. You expect big things. It was an exciting night. All these meets leading up to it, was leading up to 22 (feet). She was jumping well but would say, ‘I fouled,’ or ‘I just missed it by a toe nail.’ I knew she would pull it off.”

This year, Hall has refined how she takes off from the long jump board, right before the pit.

Georgia Coach Petros Kyprianou worked with Hall during the indoor season to change her takeoff, from where she pushes off primarily with her toe to where she pushes off with her entire foot.

And, Hall said, that has made all the difference in her performance, providing more power and more consistency.


“This year has been huge for me,” she said. “I’m starting to understand what it’s like to jump correctly and jump well and how to utilize my speed. In high school with Chris I had the strength aspect, but not so much the technical aspect. This year I have the coaching that knows the  technical side of long jump and how to use my speed. I’m learning a lot from it. I knew that the faster you are the further you can jump. But I never knew how to use it. Now it makes sense to me.”

She felt good going into the NCAA meet after a strong week of practice. “I knew going into it I would probably have a good jump,” she said. “I had become more consistent on the runway and was fast. It was all about getting a really good jump on first jump. I did. And then it held up.”

The first jump, she said, is always important to her. “I think that it just kind of relaxes me, knowing I’ve made finals or I’ve got a good one,” she said. “Then I can relax and focus on what I have to do.”

Hall started receiving text messages from Maine immediately after her event and continued into Friday. “I am just so thankful for all the support,” she said. “It’s so amazing how many people reached out. It reminds me I live in the best state and it really means a lot.”

Hall redshirted last outdoor season after deciding to transfer to Georgia from Iowa State, making this outdoor season her freshman year of eligibility. This winter, she earned All-America status at the indoor NCAA championships by finishing fourth in the long jump (21-3.25).

She will next compete in the U.S. championships in Sacramento, California. “The top three make it to worlds,” she said. “That’s the goal. I’ll be going against all the pros. I’m going to have to probably jump a personal record. I know they’re really good. I know I can jump further. We’ll see how it goes.”

Pribish believes she’s just tapping into her potential. “It would not surprise me at all to see her continue to rise through 22 (feet),” he said. “There are still things to work on for technique. A 23-foot jump is not out of reach for her at all.”

The only other Maine native believed to have won an NCAA track and field event at the highest collegiate level was Alex Schulten, who won the hammer throw in 1964 while competing for Bowdoin College. Joan Benoit of Cape Elizabeth won a national AIAW 10-kilometer title in 1979. Women’s collegiate sports were under the auspices of the AIAW until the NCAA took over in the 1982.

Video of Kate Hall’s 2015 jump courtesy of

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