When Westbrook track and field coach Angela Lally and assistant coach Rob Card discuss Nyagoa Bayak, they speak of the 6-foot-1 high jumper like she’s royalty.

“She is by far the greatest track and field athlete Westbrook has ever had,” Card said. “She is humble but awesome.”

“We want to keep her healthy. We want to be careful with her,” Lally said. “That’s my goal, to give her every chance to pursue her dreams.”

Bayak, who was struggling during the indoor track season with the mental game that is the high jump, pushed past all the doubt about clearing a bar at eye level and dominated her event like never before during the outdoor season.

She won the Class A title and the New England championship, and earned All-America status while finishing second at the nationals, all while setting a Class A record and the Maine all-time best mark of 5 feet, 11 inches.

For all of those accomplishments, Bayak is the Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ outdoor track athlete of the year.

Bayak’s best jump during the 2017 outdoor season was 5-7, and she only cleared that height once. She won the state meet with a height of 5-4 and didn’t compete at the New Englands.

This year at the New England championship, Bayak didn’t miss until she tried for 6 feet. She cleared 5-5, 5-7, 5-9 and 5-11 on her attempts en route to her third New England title, including two indoor championships.

At the New Balance nationals, she cleared the bar on her first attempt at 5-5, 5-7 and 5-9, then cleared 5-10 1/2 on her second attempt.

“Nationals was a very different meet,” said Bayak, who finished third in the high jump at the indoor nationals in March (5-8¾).

“There were five of us trying for 6 feet. I had to keep my composure. That was interesting.”

This year, Lally and Card worked with Bayak on her technique, but also in the weight room to make her stronger, faster and more confident.

Bayak’s approach, how she plants her foot at the mat, and her take off up and over the bar all have improved.

“The high jump is an event with many things that have to be perfect. She’s pretty close now,” Card said.

Bayak is more consistent and more powerful, Card said. The work on her technique is constant as she soars ever higher, and adjustments need to be made. But Bayak’s attitude now is one of confidence and determination.

“Next year, 6 feet is the goal,” Bayak said of her senior year. “That was the goal outdoors this year. Now it’s the new indoor goal. That’s the plan for next year.”

In her freshman year, Bayak got nervous at meets, but no more. She said that she’s all business as she keeps her sights on being one of the top high school high jumpers in the nation, perhaps of all time.

The national high school record is 6-4 1/2 and only four high school girls in history have jumped 6-3.

Can Bayak see herself jumping her height or beyond?

“Yeah,” she said.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

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Twitter: FlemingPph