Cyclone jumper leaps to success

Gabe Davis

The ISU women’s track team can count on top performance every meet from Gina Curtis.The senior star high jumper may be jumping great now, but it hasn’t been an easy road to success.Curtis had been fighting a torn ACL injury from her senior basketball season until just last January when she had her fourth surgery. During her rehabilitation from surgery, she decided that she would not be able to continue to jump from her left leg. At this point most high jumpers would have given up the sport. Instead, Curtis decided to try to learn to jump from her other leg. Within the last 12 months, Curtis has done a complete 180. She jumped an amazing 5-11 1/2 Saturday, which met the provisional for nationals, and is only 1 3/8 inches from the automatic qualifying height for nationals. Her jump also broke the school record making her the highest jumper ever to compete for Iowa State. Ron McEachran, ISU men’s and women’s jumping coach, has worked with Curtis for the last four years and said that what she has done is “absolutely phenomenal.””She’s shown that she has a tremendous capacity of ‘stick-to-it-ness,'” McEachran said. Curtis was recruited to Iowa State based on her high jumping performance her junior year of high school since she did not get to compete her senior year due to surgery. After three years of rehab and continuous knee problems, Curtis and McEachran made the decision for her to start jumping from her other leg.”Think of it like a basketball player who has to learn to play with his other hand and shoot all from his other hand. Everything’s backwards,” McEachran said. “One of the things that helped her is that she had done some triple jumping where she jumped from both legs.” She spent the rest of the season relearning how to compete in an event that she had once excelled in. By the team’s final meet at Drake, Curtis was ready to compete and she went out and jumped a very impressive 5-8 3/4. For Curtis, this was extraordinary, but better things were yet to come.”Coming into this season, I was really optimistic about it,” Curtis said. Curtis’ attitude throughout her athletic career has really been amazing, the coaches said.”I think it’s a tremendous story because of all of the things that she has had to overcome,” head coach Dick Lee said.McEachran said her attitude has stood out from day one when he met her.”She’s one of the most positive people that I’ve ever met, and I’ve been around for 28 years doing this,” he said. “She’s never really complained and has always worked really hard and done more than we asked of her.”And with only two weeks into the season, Curtis has already set many records.”I’m glad to see her reaping some rewards from all of her hard work,” he said.