South Surrey high-jumper wins gold at Mt. SAC Relays

Alexa Porpaczy meets qualifying standard for Youth Commonwealth Games

A summer trip to the Bahamas appears to be in the cards for Semiahmoo Secondary high-jumper Alexa Porpaczy.

Last weekend at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance, Calif., the 16-year-old track-and-field star leapt to a new personal best – which was enough to not only win a gold medal in the high-school girls invitational division, but also meet the standard required to be a part of the Canadian national team that will compete this July at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas.

The official team roster won’t be announced until May 1, but so far, Porpaczy is the only one in her division, Canada-wide, to meet the 1.77m standard.

In hitting that mark at Mt. SAC – so named because the event originally was staged at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. – she edged Cassidy Palka of Oaks Christian High School for top spot on the podium.

“I’d been struggling at the (previous) height, which was 1.73. I made that one, but only on my third attemp, so it was pretty nerve-wracking to have that pressure,” Porpaczy told Peace Arch News Monday, hours after returning home to South Surrey.

“I was tied (with Palka), so we were going head-to-head. She’s the California state champion, so it was a little bit intimidating.

Porpaczy cleared the bar at 1.77m on her second attempt.

“I was ecstatic right after. It’s been what I’ve been aiming for, probably for the last two years,” she said.

“I was one centimetre short –that was my personal best – so going in, I knew I had a shot at it, but I also knew it was still going to be hard.”

Making matters even more tense for Porpaczy, pre-competition, was the fact that time was running out for her to hit the qualifying standard for the Youth Commonwealth Games – the deadline is April 30.

“This was my second-to-last chance to do it. There’s another meet on the last weekend of April in Bellingham that I could’ve went to,” she said. “But I’m not going to go anymore – I’ve decided to rest.”

The Mt. SAC event was only Porpaczy’s second of the season – the first was the UBC Open the previous weekend – and she was also coming off a tough off-season. Due to injury and illness, she skipped the indoor competitive season, while the weather throughout the winter and early spring also hampered training efforts.

“It was an unfortunate offseason,” she said. “It made it really hard to train.”

The Mt. SAC medal – and a potential nod for the national youth team – is the latest in a string of recent successes for the talented young jumper.

Back in August, Porpaczy won gold in the under-18 girls competition at 2016 Legion National Track and Field Championships in Saint-Therese, Que. and in March of last year, her performance at the Percy Williams Indoor Games in Richmond bumped her into the No. 1 spot in Canada’s under-18 high-jump rankings.

At the time, she told PAN that while thrilled with her then-best jump of 1.75m, it was her eventual goal – and the goal of most high-jumpers – to jump her height, which at the time was just a shade under 1.8 m (five-foot-11 inches).

And despite improvements in the last 12 months – not to mention her ever-growing medal collection – Porpaczy said she’s still chasing that ultimate benchmark.

“Unfortunately, I keep growing,” she laughed.

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