A last minute decision to join the Bowdoin College track and field team is turning into one of the best decisions Hayleigh Kein has made in her young college career.

“I never thought about doing track until after field hockey season,” Kein said.

A Mt. View High School graduate, Kein planned on playing field hockey and basketball at Bowdoin. But after the Bowdoin field hockey team was eliminated in the NCAA Division III semifinals, Kein decided to give track and field a try, much to the joy of head coach Peter Slovenski.

“We weren’t sure how much time she’d have, between academics and field hockey,” Slovenski said. “We let her come out later. It made me suspicious her interest was a little on the low side.”

Slovenski didn’t have anything to worry about. A high jumper, Kein embraced her role on the track and field team.

“She has such a great attitude and an extremely good work ethic,” Slovenski said. “Her attitude makes her teammates better athletes.”

Kein won the high jump at the state indoor championships on Feb. 3, with a jump of 5 feet, 2.25 inches. She’ll be a contender at the big meets coming up, including the New England Small College Athletic Conference championships on April 28 at Bates, and the New England Division III meet on May 5 at MIT.

“It was really surprising,” Kein said of her state meet win. “I was having a really good jumping day.”

Added Slovenski: “In the high jump, you need to have a lot of poise, and she has so much poise in competition.”

Last spring, Kein won the Class B high school state high jump title with a leap of 5-feet. This year’s improvement is coming from more strength and better technique.

“I never lifted (weights) in high school, so I’m getting stronger,” Kein said. “As I become better with technique, my jumps will be better.”

Specifically, Kein is seeing better exceleration in her sprint to the bar, and arching her back over the bar. Slovenski said he expects her explosiveness on the jump to improve as well.

“She’s got a good track background, but the high jump has a lot of technical complexities,” Slovenski said. “Her explosiveness will come now that she’s in the weight room.”

Slovenski said that a jump anywhere between 5-2 and 5-7 can win the NESCAC meet at Bates next weekend, which is within Kein’s reach.

“If it’s on the 5-2, 5-3 side, she’ll be a contender. Even if it’s 5-7, she could be in the top three,” Slovenski said. “A great goal for her would be top six at the New England Division III meet.”

A midfielder on the Bowdoin field hockey team, Kein appeared in six games with the Polar Bears last fall. Managing time for academics and athletics was difficult at first, but Kein said she feels she can continue with both sports in the future.

“It was more difficult during field hockey season, but that could’ve been because everything was new in the first semester,” Kein said. “When you have time to do your work, you do it. You don’t wait.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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