WOONSOCKET -- It wasn’t that long ago, June 3 to be precise, that then-Woonsocket High junior Kaylnn Pitts took the jumping events at the R.I. Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Brown Stadium by storm.
She not only won the triple jump with a leap of 37-4 ¾, but also took third in the high jump (5-3) and teamed with Jasmine White, Marrisa Gelinas and Latoya Dythe to gain fourth in the 4 x 100-meter relay (50.67).
Pitts finished 10th in the long jump (16-1), but that was one placement she’d rather forget.
All told, she tallied 20 of the Villa Novans’ 24 overall points as her squad mustered seventh overall.
Ask her if she was satisfied with her performance, she offers a lukewarm response.
“I guess I was pleased with it, but it wasn’t my best outdoor season,” stated the 17-year-old Pitts, a senior who’s currently preparing for her final indoor track and field campaign with her teammates. “I actually jumped farther my sophomore year. I went to the National Indoor Championships in New York and (triple-jumped) 38-7.”
That distance ranked her 13th among the top triple jumpers nationwide, and – believe it or not – her best-ever distance is four inches longer, at 39-1, achieved at the “Jumpfest” meet at the Providence Career & Technical High School field house last March.
Not surprisingly, it was a new state record.
“My junior (indoor) year, it was OK, but it wasn’t great,” she noted. “A lot of people who were good and played really high have left, they’ve graduated, so that gives me more desire to do well. I’m a senior now, and I want to go out with a bang. I not only want to win the high jump and long jump (in indoor), but I want the triple jump and high jump during my outdoor season.”
She gave specifics as to her goals this winter.
“I want to win the state championship in the high jump, and I’d love to get to (the height of) 5-7 ½; I actually jumped 5-7 my sophomore year at the New England (Interscholastic Indoor Championships),” she said. “As a junior, I jumped 5-7 again at an invitational, so 5-7 ½ is my next goal.”
The week after the outdoor state meet at Brown in June, she traveled to Vermont for the New England Championships, and placed what she deemed a “disappointing” fifth in the triple jump (“I forget what my height was,” she said) while taking fourth in the high jump (5-5).
“She was rated 13th nationally in the triple jump, and she also earned All-American status at the National Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Meet at The Armory in New York,” stated her former coach, Dan Richard, now the St. Raphael Academy principal. “She’s a premier athlete.
“I coached her for three years, as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and she’s come a long way,” he added. “You know what’s funny? After she won the high jump state title as a ninth-grader, just two months prior, she didn’t even know what the high jump was. That’s how new she was to the sport of track and field.
“I know KK (her nickname), and I know she wasn’t thrilled with her (outdoor state meet). At that level, she always wants to be achieving personal records, and her 37-4 ¾ wasn’t near her best.
“Still, in her three years at states, she’s won three individual state titles in outdoor, so that’s not a bad resume.”
This past fall, Pitts took a “breather” and spent her time as a football cheerleader. Now that the autumn campaign is winding down, she’s busy working at fine-tuning her jumping skills.
“Right now, I’m doing track conditioning, working in the weight room, doing drills and sprinting back and forth across the gym floor,” she said.
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“My ultimate goal is 5-10 in the high jump, but if I get to 5-7 ½, that would be great. I want to get a new PR. And, in the long jump, I’d love to get to 18 feet.”
At the first meeting for the indoor squad, that called by current coaches George Briggs and Mark Piette, she was elected a tri-captain along with fellow seniors Gelinas and Victoria Cooper.
“That was something that I’ve always wanted; I was psyched when I found out,” she grinned. “Being a captain means a lot to me. I’m getting ready for indoor; I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, motivation, determination, but I’m ready for it. I really want it. I want to win more state championships.”
Richard sees no reason why Pitts – who already has received dozens of letters from schools interested in gaining her talents, among them Wake Forest, Miami, Missouri, West Point and the University of Rhode Island – can’t achieve the goals she’s set for herself.
“She was getting letters of interest every other week, and those are just the ones I remember,” he said. “If you look at her three PRs in the triple jump at 39-1, the high jump at 5-7 and long jump at about 17-2, I’d say those arguably would rank her among the top five to seven jumpers in the United States.
“Just look at her (lanky, 5-foot-8) frame; if she gets a little more strength, the sky’s the limit for KK,” he continued. “She’s already got the technique down, and the God-given spring, and the body type, so she can do whatever she wants. She’s a great kid, a lovely young lady. I miss coaching her, and all the other girls. I wish them a lot of luck this indoor and outdoor season.”