Technique is important in the high jump, and learning a new way of going about it is never an easy thing. To try and make adjustments right before a big meet is even tougher.
And yet, Bordentown High sophomore Marissa Logiudice was willing to listen to a former Penn Relays champion right before the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I Indoor Sectional Meet, and ended up taking sixth place an advancing to the All Groups meet.
The fact she did not place at states was secondary to the fact that Logiudice knows she is entering the spring season an improved jumper.
“We look at winter track as a stepping stone for spring,” coach Dave Misselhorn said. “I know Marissa was disappointed that she didn’t fare as well at states, but things don’t happen overnight. Sometimes you’re gonna have to take a step back to take two or three or four steps forward.”
The person responsible for helping with those steps is former Notre Dame High School and College of New Jersey standout Erica Wright (formerly DiStefano), a Penn Relays winner in high jump who was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s Outstanding Female Indoor Field Athlete in 2002. Wright went on to serve as hurdles coach for Princeton University and worked one year with Misselhorn before opting to take a break.
But she has volunteered to work with Logiudice and Misselhorn said, “with her help, Marissa will get to 5-4.”
“I’m super excited for spring, getting everything corrected with more practice,” said Logiudice while taking a break from cleaning up at her restaurant job. “In the winter my only practice is at the meets, so it’s just ‘Do your best, have fun with it.’ In the winter all the mats are put away in the gym and we’re not gonna go outside. It was more a workout kind of deal. I was proud, I cleared five foot while not really practicing for winter.”
‘She’s just a great kid and easy to work with because she’s willing to work. You wish everyone was like that.’
Five-feet is her personal best, which she matched at this winter’s indoor state relays while taking second in Group I with Ciara Santiago. She only cleared 4-8 at the CJ I sectionals but that could be understood considering she was trying a new technique. Then again, track and field is all pretty new to Logiudice.
As a kid, she would run in races with her dad, Damon, but was mainly a gymnast. In middle school she quit gymnastics to be a tumbler (naturally) on the cheerleading team. In ninth grade, Logiudice made a new discovery.
“I got to high school and I was like ‘Oh, there’s a track team?’ so I just decided to go out for it,” she said. “I stopped cheerleading and just got busy and had more focus on track.”
Logiudice started doing sprints, moved on to hurdles and was then drawn to high jump while watching Santiago do it.
“It was just so much fun for me at first, but I would never have thought I would have made it to states,” Logiudice said. “Gymnastics definitely helped with high jump. I think it helps with the flexibility and the back arch. Gymnastics will always be a part of me. I could probably back flip over the bar.”
Logiudice quickly took to high jump and nailed a 5-0 to finish seventh in sectionals last spring. She also ran well in the intermediate and high hurdles and will likely do the long jump this year. High jump remains her best event, and it will only get better with Wright’s help.
“She’s up and coming,” Misselhorn said. “It’s changing for the better. Her approach wasn’t as effective before, but she will be more consistent and do that much better with the approach Erica is showing her.”
Wright began working with Logiudice about two weeks prior to the sectional meet.
“With my approach you want to start off with big kind of steps, then do it quick-quick kind of, then jump and take off,” Logiudice explained. “You use your arms to get power. I kind of was just running and doing my own thing and I still cleared, but this definitely helped me do better.”
Unfortunately, Logiudice was unable to clear the opening height of 4-8 at states.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I don’t know why that opening height kind of made me nervous. I know I’m a five-foot jumper, but I didn’t do my super best at states this year but I think that will definitely be motivation for spring. I was pretty bummed. There were a lot of things I was doing wrong, I don’t know if it was the new approach. I was getting my height but my legs were hitting it.
“My arms kind of threw me off. I had to bring them back and bring them up. But I was glad she fixed my approach. It’s not going to be perfect when you first start but I think it did help in a way. I just have new things I need to focus on. Once everything is good, this spring I’ll try my best to make it to states.”
Misselhorn feels the tweaks that Wright is making will lead to more consistency.
“It’s not even really a new approach, it’s just a better approach,” he said. “Her approach was off, she was inconsistent at times. This approach will get her a little more speed and her steps will be on target. She’s not going to over-stride.”
Although Wright cannot make every practice, she continues to work with Logiudice during the spring practices and both she and Misselhorn are excited to see the results.
“She knows what she’s doing, she’s done high jump herself and been great at it,” Logiudice said. “She can pretend she’s in my shoes by showing me what to do. It’s definitely gonna help me with her working with me. She’s getting my approach down, measuring my steps.”
Logiudice is not solely focused on the high jump, as she is also looking to improve her sprints and hurdles and anxious to try the long jump. Whatever she does, her heart will be into it.
“She’s just a great kid and easy to work with because she’s willing to work,” Misselhorn said. “You wish everyone was like that.”