Herold is Sonoma Academy’s first MOC champion

Sonoma Academy's Kiana Herold clears 5' 6" in the high jump at the NCS Meet of Champions in Berkeley.  Photo credit: Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold clears 5′ 6″ in the high jump at the NCS Meet of Champions in Berkeley.
Photo credit: Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

BERKELEY — Most people wouldn’t choose the athlete with the surgically repaired ACL to win the North Coast Section Meet of Champions high jump competition.

Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold soared past that logic Saturday, as the Press Democrat Small-School Scholar-Athlete of the Year topped her own personal record by 2 inches with a leap of 5 feet 7 inches. It was good enough for an NCS crown and a trip to the California Interscholastic Federation Championships.

Herold suffered a crippling ligament tear while playing basketball her junior year, and didn’t participate in any track and field events last season. She just wanted to get back and have a good senior campaign.

“You miss it so much, not doing it junior year,” she said. “I’ve also wanted to come back — come back strong and do my best.”

Her accomplishments during a season in which she just wanted to participate may now go down in Sonoma County folklore. In addition to being the first Sonoma Academy athlete to win a crown at the MOC, Herold was the first Coyotes athlete to qualify for the state meet. Herold’s teammate Austin Orr became the second in school history to earn a trip to state with a third-place finish in the boys 800.

“It’s pretty exciting for our school,” Sonoma Academy coach Dan Aldridge said. “Being a small school, any time we get somebody to this level it’s a rarity, and now to have somebody win it is out of this world.”

A two-inch increase over one’s personal best in the high jump isn’t exactly a cakewalk, so how did Herold do it?

“I just started working more on form,” she said. “I just really started to reach my peaks. Coming back, I hadn’t jumped in a while and it felt a little weird at the beginning of the season. I’ve finally been getting back into it, and just now everything is clicking and it’s been great. It feels really good.”

Herold, bound for Amherst College in the fall, is somewhat humble about it all.

“It’s nice to prove yourself as a small-school athlete on a bigger stage and get recognition,” she said.

Before Saturday’s victory, Herold’s previous MOC finishes in the high jump were fourth her freshman year and fifth as a sophomore.

“It’s a big return back to the sport after a major surgery,” Aldridge said.

Herold and Orr will participate in the state championships starting Friday in Clovis.

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