Announcement

ALYSSA HOPE SELECTED AS INLAND EMPIRE TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Posted by King Track & Field on Jun 11 2022 at 12:17PM PDT
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By MATT JOCKS | preps@pe.com and ERIC-PAUL JOHNSON | ejohnson@scng.com |
PUBLISHED: June 10, 2022 at 3:07 p.m. | UPDATED: June 10, 2022 at 3:08 p.m.

Alyssa Hope’s junior season started a little slowly on the approach. It built up speed about halfway down the runway before launching into a powerful takeoff.

And what a landing.

The star jumper from King High who had just turned 16 and started the season trying to build her confidence not only ended it as a CIF State champion, but she blew away an elite field in the state triple jump final. Hope took five jumps that counted, and they were the five top marks of the day.

Just to add an exclamation point, Hope took second in the long jump, setting a school record of 20 feet, 4 inches. Hope joined Olympian Tara Davis as the only girls to top 40 feet in the triple jump and 20 feet in the long jump at a state final.

King High School junior Alyssa Hope has been selected as the IE Varsity girls track and field athlete of the year. Hope won the CIF state title in the triple jump and finished second in the long jump. Riverside on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

King High School junior Alyssa Hope has been selected as the IE Varsity girls track and field athlete of the year. Hope won the CIF state title in the triple jump and finished second in the long jump. Riverside on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Her high-flying state meet capped a brilliant season that has earned Hope the IE Varsity girls track and field athlete of the year honor.

The finals performance in the triple jump typified Hope’s style. The winning mark was 40-2 3/4, but all five legal jumps were within a combined range of just 8 1/4 inches.

“It’s very rare,” King coach Mat Vasel said of Hope’s consistency. “Look at the other top jumpers, and they will pop off those big jumps here and there. But to hit that level consistently, over and over, is just nuts.”

Hope competed in track and field as a youngster, stepped away from it to concentrate on volleyball, then returned a couple of years ago. She has some track and field in her blood, her grandfather having been a college teammate of Carl Lewis and her mother having competed at Canyon Springs.

She also has a predisposition to hard work and taking her craft seriously. When Vasel raves about Hope’s consistency, she doesn’t always see it the same way.

“If you look at videos of me,” she said, “at the end of almost every jump, I’m always shaking my head because I think I just did a terrible jump.”

Confidence, Hope said, was the biggest hole in her game when the season began. The COVID disruption to the early part of her career took a toll, forcing her to watch track videos at home when she wanted to have the feeling of landing in the dirt.

Strong finishes in prestigious invitationals stamped Hope as a state contender. The confidence gained pushed her to a higher level.

“In the beginning, I would get in my own head,” she said. “Now I really feel at home out there. It’s just fun.”

Vasel points to the Mt. SAC Relays as a turning point. Hope’s consistency had meant that she had typically hit good marks on her first jump or two, relieving the pressure. That wasn’t the case at Mt. SAC.

“When you pop off your first jump, that’s great,” he said. “But what happens when you scratch or your mark is off. How do you respond and not let that affect the goal you’ve set for yourself.

“Then you pop off the fifth and sixth jumps and you have that experience. You get to CIF and get in a hole and you know you can get out of it.”

Vasel said there is still room for growth in Hope’s game, pointing specifically to her landings where she often loses a few inches because of her leg placement. And he continues to have an eager student.

“I was telling my mom, ‘Can we just start jumping again?’ ” Hope said. “I hate being home doing nothing.”

MATT JOCKS