Entering Thursday’s track and field dual contest at Salinas High, Camille Finley had won the high jump event in all four of the meets she’s competed in this season. The San Benito High senior is jumping better than ever, thanks to some serious film study and practice. The athletic 5-foot-11 Finley entered the week with the top mark in the Central Coast Section, at 5 feet, 5 inches.
Considering that Finley has only been high jumping for three years to go along with all of the technical aspects of the event, there’s no telling how high she can go.
“It’s encouraging to see progress and potential to improve,” she said.
Finley also does the long jump and triple jump, the latter being her second best event. Finley’s personal-record (PR) in the triple jump is 36 feet, which she accomplished last year at the Los Gatos Top 8 Invitational. Finley advanced to the CCS semifinals in the high jump and triple jump last season, but came up short in her bid to make the championship finals.
“I was a little disappointed, but I knew I could do better,” she said.
After every competition, Finley reviews film of her jumps with her dad, Wes, who was a decathlete at San Jose State University. Wes spends countless hours scouring high jump videos on Youtube, then breaks them down and gives his daughter pointers.
“He helps me to see what I’m doing wrong and how I can fix it,” Finley said. “Footwork is one thing I have a lot of trouble with, but it’s getting better.”
In particular, Finley wants her penultimate step before the jump to improve, which is key in maximizing a jump. Finley’s speed on the approach and explosiveness allow her to get over the bar with plenty of clearance at times, but as her dad notes, “I have to fix my hips or arms while in the air to get the most out of my jumps.”
Finley has a goal of breaking the school record of 5-6, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it go down at some point this season—ideally near the end at the most important meets. Finley, who was also a standout middle blocker on the girls volleyball team, has laser-eye focus when it comes to the high jump.
Not knowing whether she’ll play sports at the collegiate level, Finley wants this season to be her best yet. Minutes before every jump, Finley sits down, tuning everything around her out.
“If people try to talk to me, I try to zone them out,” she said. “I try to focus on my movement and get in the right mindset.”
Finley has had the right attitude since volleyball season ended in November, diligently working on drills per instruction from her dad and San Benito High track and field coach Rob Macias. After Thursday’s dual meet at Salinas, the Balers are scheduled to compete in the Avis Kelly Invite at Gilroy High, one of the premier early meets of the season.
It’s another opportunity for Finley to jump higher than she’s ever gone before.