As she steps on the track, Hilary King places her left foot on the measuring tape and focuses on the 86-foot runway and blocks out everything. With one last breath, she leans back, shakes her right leg and goes.
In her last stride, she hits her jumping point and propels off into a pit of sand.
“I never look up or think about anything around me because that will ruin my jump,” King said.
King is the senior team captain of the SF State track team who broke the school record in the long jump March 21 at the Johnny Mathis Invitational, jumping 5.79 meters and shattering the previous record of 5.65 meters by Aziza Bledsoe in 2003. King also is an All-American in the 4×100 with her fellow teammates.
For track & field head coach Kendra Reimer, the record-breaking jump was a pleasant surprise on King’s Senior Day.
“It was just unexpected and it happened so soon in the season,” Reimer said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to happen on her Senior Day and especially because her mom was there. It was just a magical day.”
According to King, the flower earrings in her ears, the two sports bras she wears and the purple and yellow ribbon for her hair are all essential to help her perform well on meet day.
“I am so superstitious,” King said. “I have a lot of earrings, but the first one, the flower one, I wear because last year when I jumped like 18’7 feet I’m like ‘Okay I’m going to wear them’ so I wear them every meet.”
King was born and raised in Northridge, California with her younger brother Correy King. King’s mother and father, Miriam and Walter King, spent most of their lives participating in sports like basketball, track and football. King primarily focused on basketball, but participated in track on the side. It all began when she was six years old in first grade when she brought a flyer home about a track club to her parents.
“We were looking for a track club in the area,” Miriam King said. “Hilary came home with her backpack ready to do homework, that’s when she brought home a flyer for the Northridge Pacers and we were excited.”
Walter said he is proud of his daughter, but believes that this her record-breaking jump would have came sooner.
“You know she jumped around 18 feet in high school, so I thought she would do it sooner,” Walter said. “But I am proud of her.”
At 12 years old, King placed third at Nationals in the long jump, which played a role in her deciding to focus more on track. She held the record in the long jump at her high school, Harvard-Westlake High School. King never thought she would break the record at the college level.
“I didn’t think I would ever do it, but breaking it I was like shocked,” King said. “But at the same time I worked really hard these past couple of years. In the back of my mind, I knew I got it.”
King is the only member on the track team that has been on the team for four years. According to Marissa Chew, Assistant Jumps coach, her presence is one that the team can’t live without.
“She will definitely be a presence we will be missed next year,” Chew said. “We want to make sure to utilize her abilities and make sure she leaves on a great note.”
Chew, first-year coach along with Reimer, focuses with King on her horizontal jump and makes sure when she jumps she explodes and is powerful, according to Chew. Chew’s goal for King is to make the NCAA Division II National Championships, which with her record-breaking jump puts her on a provisional list for Nationals. Chew could not be happier for King’s jump as well.
“I was just ecstatic for her. I knew it was in there, it has been in her body,” Chew said. “I tried so hard to hold back the tears.”
As the track team captain, her fellow teammate’s support and respect for her is positive to have around, according to King.
“Because I’m captain, I feel like they respect me a lot and with respect comes support, so I just know that anything I do they will always be right there,” King said. “Once you have your team right there with you, watching you, it’s really exciting.”
King will be competing at the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships at Cox Stadium at the end of April. This will be King’s final season on the track team and she is glad to be done.
“I’m done after this. It’s just been so long and I’ve been running for almost 17 years and thats crazy,” King said. “I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends, but its like I really want to know what my life is like without sports.”