That was the difference between disappointment and jubilation for Megan Kirschling, the difference between a shot at the high jump title at the Meet of Champions and third place.
Unfortunately, for the West Deptford senior, it was that second miss at 5-8 that kept her out of a jump-off with two others, after no one cleared 5-10, leaving her to settle for bronze.
While the frustration and disappointment were evident in the aftermath, Kirschling, who took a pass on running the 100 hurdles, took at least some solace in clearing the top height on the day.
“I can’t let this take away from my season,” she said. “It hurts now, but I’ll get over it eventually.”
Kirschling had been perfect through 5-6, while the rest of her competition all were tabbed with at least one miss. Trenton Catholic’s Robin Perkins, the eventual winner, fouled early on, and Franklin’s Kyaira Wright-Harmon was hit with a foul for going under the bar on one attempt at 5-4.
It was 5-8 that gave her the trouble—after just barely brushing the bar off on her first two attempts, Kirschling kept herself in it with a jump that looked like it would’ve cleared at least 5-10.
But no one managed to clear 5-10 when the bar went up, and since Wright-Harmon and Perkins had only missed once, Kirschling was denied another shot at the championship.
West Deptford coach Mark Drummond said he was impressed by the level of competition—seven girls were still in it at 5-8.
“You want to be in the best meet you can be in,” he said. “It’s just tough losing like that.”
Drummond said he hopes Kirschling can take her performance as motivation for her next time out, but also gave her credit for being at the top, despite an off day.
“She just had her worst day and jumped 5-8,” he said.
The look on Kirschling’s face after the competition was much the same as when she just missed out on clearing 5-8 at the Penn Relays in April; a mix of frustration and disappointment, tinged with a fire that made it evident she wanted to get right back to competing and trying to best her mark of 5-10.5 from the state Group 2 meet.
Kirschling won’t have to wait long before getting that shot—nationals are this weekend in North Carolina, and she’ll go there hoping for a showing similar to last year, when she wasn’t even sure she could make the opening height.
“I really just want to go and enjoy it—not stress out about the heights too much,” Kirschling said.
From there, she’ll begin the transition to college and furthering her jumping career at Elon University. Kirschling’s been in touch with her coaches and got her weight training assignments last week, hints of what she can expect in the tougher college scene.
“It’ll be a whole new experience,” she said.