Paramus Catholic’s Tiffany Bautista jumps to “insane” heights at SMOC by Darren Cooper of The Record
COLUMBUS – Tiffany Bautista is a natural. What she did Saturday at the State Meet of Champions was supernatural.
The 16-year old Paramus Catholic junior won gold in the high jump, edging friend and Rutherford superstar Jenna Rogers. She won the triple jump without breaking much of a sweat, and she ran the anchor leg on the Paladins victorious 4×100 relay. Her last event of the day was the long jump, where she placed third.
Her three gold medals tied a meet record.
“It was a really hectic day,” said Bautista. “I didn’t know what was going to happen coming into today. I was real tired by the end, but it was great to go and do all my events today.”
“That was insane,” summed up Paramus Catholic coach Bryan Durango.
From a logistical standpoint, it was somewhat crazy. The high jump and the triple jump each started at 2 p.m. at Northern Burlington High School. Durango asked the judges if Bautista could do her triple jumps early, so she could compete at the high jump. Not a problem they said.
Bautista’s third jump in the triple jump came at 2:20 p.m. it was 40-feet-2 inches. No other competitor even came close, but she didn’t know that then, and she ran to the opposite end of the football field to compete in the high jump.
The finals in the triple jump were just getting started as Bautista was winning the high jump by clearing 5-foot-10. She came back to the triple jump pit, but just for a moment.
She had to put on her track shoes.
“I was biting my nails,” said Durango. “Because the 5-10 bar was going on and the 4x1s were going off. I was like, she’s not going to make it.”
Without even a leg stretch, Bautista took the stick at 3:56 p.m. and ran the Paladins to victory by .08 over Egg Harbor Township. Then she did one more token triple jump – she had already won. Then got a mini-break before the long jump.
“I think my favorite part of the day was us winning the 4×1, because coming in I didn’t know that we could hit that time, but our handoffs were clean,” said Bautista. “I almost fell to the ground at the end.”
In the long jump, Bautista was third going into the finals, but her jumps were growing shorter. On her last jump, she did a personal best 19-foot-2-and-a-half inches, but it wasn’t enough. Supernatural people get tired too.
“Yes, I’m pretty tired,” said Bautista with a smile. “I didn’t know this was going to happen, and doing it today has really been a dream.”
Durango identified Bautista as a natural talent when she showed up at Paramus Catholic. She had been a Level 10 gymnast, but had never done track – her brother Christian had competed in track. Durango made her a deal, two days a week practice track as a freshman.
Her best event at the time was the high jump. Durango said she cleared five feet on her first try. But then she jumped 35 feet in the triple jump and it was like, stop the clock, she focused on the triple.
“It really wasn’t until last week that we really thought she could go back to high jumping like she was,” said Durango.
“We don’t really even practice high jump,” said Bautista….the state champion in the high jump. “We mostly focus on the long jump and triple.”
Durango told a story that the first time they showed Bautista the hurdles, she took three steps in between the hurdles. He said she was only the second girl he ever coached who could do that right away.
Bautista was briefly upset after placing third in the long jump, but quickly cheered up. She did PR in the event after all, and she was not the favorite to win.
Bautista has given up gymnastics – she coaches little kids now in that sport. It was hard to balance school work, track practice and gymnastics practice. She’s going to stick with this track thing. It seems to fit her.
“This was by far the greatest performance I have ever seen,” said Durango. “To do this at such a high-level meet. She dominated. She didn’t miss in the high jump until six feet. She won the triple jump on her first jump. I never saw anything like it.”