Arguably one of the most difficult maneuvers in all of sports, high jumping requires precise execution of a delicate technique. When it is performed correctly, the result is graceful and elegant – but one false stride or contortion throws the spectacle completely out of whack.
“When I first started high jumping, I was actually pretty bad. It takes a while to grasp the concept of throwing yourself over a bar backwards,” says Michaela Nichols.
It’s hard to believe those words coming from Michaela – she makes it look effortless.
In each of the Track & Field team’s first three meets of the season, Nichols has skied above all competition to capture the high jump event, most recently clearing 5’0” to defeat King Philip and Coyle Cassidy competition. She also placed second in the triple jump against North Attleboro and Canton, giving the Lady Tigers eight points they can count on en route to their 3-0 start.
These early meet successes have all come in the midst of nagging injuries, which have sidelined Michaela from her usual participation in hurdling events. Once she returns to full strength, one can only expect more points from her in the 400 meter and 110 meter hurdles and even greater domination of the jumping events.
It is this kind of versatility that has made her one of the Tigers’ post-season heptathletes since her freshman year. Featuring some of the most gifted and well-rounded athletes the state has to offer, the heptathlon includes a diverse array of events: the 100 meter hurdles, 200 meter, 800 meter, high jump, long jump, shot put, and javelin. In such a trying contest, even Michaela finds difficulty with events that are nearly foreign to her.
“I think the 800 meter run is the most challenging event for me, because I’m not a distance runner, so I’m not used to pacing myself in that race.”
Despite the trials and tribulations, Michaela still has her sights set high for the season, aiming to triple jump 34 feet and qualify for states, consistently high jump above five feet, and place in the top three as a team at the Hockomock League championships. She’s also striving to improve her long-distance stamina and cut down her mile time, which will certainly come in handy when tackling the 800 in May.
Meanwhile, throughout the competitive and dedicated element of her sport, Michaela still finds time to relax and enjoy a few laughs with her peers.
“Working to improve in track is very satisfying, but I also love just being with my team; we’re like a family,” says Nichols. “My favorite memory of track would have to be last year when after a really hot meet in Sharon, a bunch of us jumped into Lake Massapoag to cool off. It was a lot of fun and very refreshing.”
Off the track, Michaela also plays for the Oliver Ames Volleyball team, helping lead the Lady Tigers to the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history this past fall. Outside of the varsity sport limelight altogether, she enjoys long boarding, bike riding, and teaching herself songs on the piano. She even displays artistic inclinations, citing drawing as one of her favorite hobbies.
“I used to take art, and I draw a lot when I’m bored, from doodling on my hand or notebook to painting a picture,” she says.
Not surprisingly, this love translates to an interest in design and architecture, and Michaela may pursue either one when she moves on to college.
For now, though, she’ll continue to refine her Fosbury flop and create masterpieces in the art of high jumping.