Montana State’s Lucy Corbett quickly went from high jump newcomer to ‘one of the best in the country’ | MSU Bobcats
BOZEMAN – One of the top female college high jumpers in the United States didn’t begin her career in track and field until she was a junior in high school.
Lucy Corbett tried the track in seventh grade but spent the next three years focusing on football. She didn’t want to play for the varsity football team at Del Oro High School in Loomis, Calif., because she wasn’t a fan of the coach, she said, so she revisited the track.
Corbett’s new coaches did not know the caliber of athlete they had just inherited. Her height (now 5ft 8in) fitted the profile of a good jumper, but she did not play basketball or volleyball, so she was rarely able to show off her jumping ability. She started her Del Oro track career as a sprinter, but soon realized that she didn’t like these racing events.
“I was trying to get out of sprint practices, so I switched to high jump,” Corbett told 406mtsports.com on Tuesday.
The rest is history, some are still in the works.
Corbett holds the MSU women’s high jump records for indoor and outdoor track. Earlier this month, she tied Big Sky’s indoor record in that event. The junior could break that mark at the conference indoor championships, which are held Thursday through Saturday at Worthington Arena.
Corbett’s rise has been historic, meteoric and – for the Bobcats – extremely fortunate.
“I think for a lot of people it’s hard to realize the magnitude of what she’s done,” MSU jumps coach Dustin Cichosz said.
Corbett’s conference-record high jump took place at the Big Sky Preview in Bozeman on Feb. 11. She cleared 6-foot-2 to set new personal and MSU benchmarks, less than a year after breaking the program’s outdoor record at 6 feet.
The 6-2 jump tied Corbett for second place with Tyra Gittens of Texas and Sidney Sapp of Texas Tech for the best varsity women’s high jump so far this season. Only Lamara Distin (6-3.5) of Texas A&M has a better rating.
“It doesn’t feel real yet,” Corbett said, referencing all his accomplishments.
Like her decision to become a high jumper, Corbett’s signing with MSU was far from predestined.
Corbett’s older brother James attended MSU, and she took a liking to college and the city after visiting him in 2017. She decided to move in with James and attend Bozeman High for her senior year. so that she is eligible for MSU tuition. .
Corbett’s parents, who now live in Montana, did not attend college and she had no plans to go either until she joined the track team.
“I had a coach who really thought I could jump higher, so that’s what made me think about college,” Corbett said. “He was like, ‘If you keep preparing for this, you could go to college for the track.'”
Corbett’s best high jump at Del Oro was 5-5, and she bettered it by an inch in her first meeting at Bozeman. Three weeks later, she cleared 5-10 at the Skor-Dekam Invitational in Helena. It was the sixth-highest women’s high jump in the nation at the time and helped her get the attention of college coaches, including MSU jumps coach Tom Eitel.
Corbett went just 5-7 in the 2018 Class AA State Meet and finished second to current teammate Shelby Schweyen in a play-off, but she doesn’t think much of that runner-up, she said. declared.
It’s easy to see why Corbett moved on.
She won gold in the high jump as a freshman at the 2019 Big Sky Indoor Championships. She did not surpass that winning mark of 5-9.25 the following season, largely due to back issues, but she still placed first at the 2020 Big Sky Indoor Meet.
“She’s got that hard work and that guts that a lot of Montana rookies have,” Cichosz said. “She knows how to fight through the elements. She knows the difference between hurt and injured.
The 2020 outdoor season has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The longer than usual break between seasons has allowed Corbett to focus more on physical therapy and get back on track in 2020-21. She broke the indoor and outdoor women’s high jump program records that season with marks of 5-10 and 6 feet, respectively.
Corbett qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year and finished tied for 12th with a 5-11.25 high jump, resulting in a second All-America selection. . She then competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, where she placed 16th with a 5-11.5 mark.
“It was always difficult to get her to the point where she could stay healthy for a full season,” Cichosz said. “Now she spends a lot of time doing her extra exercise, doing that hard work that’s not always fun to do. She’s staying healthier and smarter, and she’s doing things that we thought we could do.
The day they returned from Eugene, Corbett told Cichosz that she wanted to practice right away. Cichosz admired the hunger but told him that rest, physical therapy and developing a detailed plan for 2022 would give him a better chance of achieving his national championship and Olympic goals.
Corbett has earned three Big Sky Female Field Athlete of the Week honors this indoor season. She broke her own program record three times at the Big Sky Preview: first at 6 feet, then at 6-1.25 and finally at 6-2 (she made two unsuccessful attempts at 6-3.25) .
“I’m very happy that this is coming to fruition,” Corbett said. “I’ve been in a bit of the same spot for the past two years when it comes to my high jump, so it was exciting to get an indoor PR.”
Corbett and Cichosz stressed that nothing is guaranteed, not even a third straight Big Sky title this weekend (the 2021 Conference Indoor Championships have been canceled due to COVID). But given how she performed this winter, winning a national gold medal is more likely than placing second or worse at the Big Sky competition. Gittens won the NCAA women’s indoor high jump title last season with a mark of 6-2.75.
Cichosz said Corbett was “for sure” the best female jumper he has ever coached and that her career is not over. She is still eligible for another indoor season and two more outdoor seasons at the college level.
“Unless another miracle happens, (she’s) probably the best that’s been here in a long time,” he said.
Despite all the success, Corbett remained humble, Cichosz said. She often helps her teammates, helps clean up and put things away after practice, and wants to perform well for the team, not just herself. She praised her coaches and teammates for their support, adding: “I love being part of this team.”
“She doesn’t act like she’s one of the best in the country,” Cichosz said.