Norwin sophomore Kolesar rewriting track and field record books
Norwin sophomore track and field standout Jessica Kolesar has problem with records. She's always breaking them.
Coming off a heralded middle school career where she set five school records, Kolesar arrived at the varsity level proving worthy of her reputation by getting to work on the varsity record book.
“(Breaking high school records) is something I've strived for since my start of high school and after middle school and setting all of those records, I wanted to the same,” said Kolesar, who also plays field hockey and basketball for the Knights. “I didn't expect it to be so soon, I guess.”
Kolesar is coming off a first-place finish in the 200-meter dash in early April's Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational at Latrobe where the 5-foot-6 Kolesar captured her second school record by running a 25.50.
The time beat an eight-year record set in 2009 by Shannon Abraham, who ran a 25.59.
“I knew that I got first (place), and I was in the last heat of the finals, but I didn't know what my time was,” said Kolesar, describing the record-breaking run. “It was pretty exciting. We were all waiting outside and standing close to where they come out and post the (times). It felt pretty good.”
Kolesar also came away with second-place finishes in the long jump and triple jump before the day ended.
“It's crazy that she's doing it with so much more to learn,” said Kolesar's jumping and sprinting coach, Tim Van Horn. “I can't tell you what her ceiling is. She's still picking up things, and a lot of her success is still based off just her talent.”
Kolesar's talent earned her the 100, 200, 400 relay, long jump and triple jump middle school records. In her first trip to Latrobe as a freshman at last year's Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational, she walked away with her first varsity school record in the long jump when jumped 18 feet, 3 inches. Van Horn remembers Kolesar's record-breaking jump well because it happened not once but twice.
“When she broke the (long jump), she broke it in her first three jumps, and then she moved on to the finals and broke it again,” Van Horn said.
Kolesar, who finished ninth in the long jump at the 2016 WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships and 11th in the 200 meters, isn't afraid to try new things either.
She placed second in the 400 against Indiana earlier this year, showing if she wanted to branch out into other events she would be a force no matter what. She's already among qualifiers for this year's WPIAL championships in the 200, long jump, triple jump, 400 relay and 100.
“Most of the time I've done the same events, but I feel like that if I work at (the others) I'll be able to (compete),” Kolesar said. “Going (the WPIAL championships) as a freshman and being able to compete and getting ninth in the long jump, especially, and able to see that as a freshman, it gave me extra confidence.”
Kolesar is brimming with confidence. In fact, she has so much of it to go around, it's rubbing off on her teammates. Van Horn said Kolesar's work ethic and success has inspired the team as a whole, especially the underclassmen.
“It's to the point now where she's being that leader,” Van Horn said. “For the first time we went into Hempfield saying, ‘We have Jessie.' She's instilled a belief in everybody as a team. It's kind of special where one person can bring everyone up like that.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.