Lori Svoboda, a junior varsity cheerleader at El Dorado High School, earned a few cheers of her own this spring on the Golden Hawks track and field team.
Svoboda, a 16-year-old sophomore, had the state's best mark in the high jump this season when she cleared 5-feet 10-inches to win the Southern Section's Masters at Cerritos College. She finished second to Lynn Patrick of San Diego Serra High School in the state meet in Sacramento with a jump of 5-8.
Svoboda moved into some select company among Orange County athletes with her 5-10 jump. Yleana Carrasco of Anaheim holds the county record of 6-0 established in 1985, and Ursula Lovely of Kennedy cleared 5-11.
Svoboda said she had good practice sessions the week leading to the Masters. The workouts were short and fairly easy. Her coach, Chuck Titus, purposely kept the bar at 5-4 as a confidence builder, and gave her positive thoughts.
"Technically, Lori was fine," Titus said. "She just needed a little confidence. Basically, what I did was try to get her to visualize herself going over the bar at 5-10.
"All week long, I asked her, 'Are you satisfied with 5-8?' She said, 'No, I want to go 5-9.' I told her, 'No, you can't be satisfied with 5-9, you want to jump 5-10.' "
Svoboda cleared 5-10--the country's fifth best mark--on her first jump. She failed on three attempts at 5-11, but established herself as the favorite to win the state title.
"We kept the workouts in the same low-key style leading to the state meet, but Lori was a different jumper in Sacramento," Titus said.
Svoboda's inexperience in pressure meets showed in Sacramento. Her timing was off and she had problems concentrating during the first day of qualifying.
"I was really nervous," she said. "There was a freeway behind the jumping pit and the cars were a distraction. I didn't jump well."
Said Titus: "When she finished, I asked her what's going on? She wasn't the same girl who had gone 5-10 at Cerritos. The next day, she came back strong. Lori may come across as a mild-mannered, quiet girl, but when she's in competition, she gets very intense. She hates to lose."
Svoboda credits some of her success in high jumping to running the 400 meters this season. She resisted the idea of running the race when Titus first suggested it, but after winning a couple of races, she began to enjoy the event.
"I think running helped improve my leg strength for the high jump," she said.
Titus said Svoboda could improve much more next season if she concentrates on track.
"Lori didn't start working out until February because of cheer-leading," Titus said. "If I get her in sixth-period P.E. starting in the fall, she'll surprise a lot of people in the 400.
THE SEASON'S TOP MARKS
GIRLS 100 Meters Sheri Bertell, Mission Viejo 12.09 200 Meters Sheri Bertell, Mission Viejo 25.40 400 Meters Shelly Tochluk, Westminster 57.60 800 Meters Erika Lovett, Savanna 2:12.86 1,600 Meters Kathy Karpel, Ocean View 4:54.16 3,200 Meters Leslie Cashion, Corona del Mar 11:10.27 100-Meter Low Hurdles Valerie Gritton, Woodbridge 15.11 300-Meter Low Hurdles Danielle Reaves, Esperanza 44.8 400-Meter Relay Mission Viejo 49.2 1,600-Meter Relay Woodbridge 3:53.40 High Jump Lori Svoboda El Dorado 5-10 Long Jump Samantha Toomey, Capo Valley 18-2 Triple Jump Doneisa Anderson, Tustin 37-11 Shotput Janell Jakubka, Capo Valley 38-7 Discus Allison Franke, Canyon 138-6