From skates to spikes; Long looks to leave her mark in high jump

Senior high jumper Moorea Long started her athletic career under another sport, but has made a name for herself on the track. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Joe Pratt | Reporter

Senior high jumper Moorea Long wasn’t always a track star. Long actually started on the ice as a figure skater and leaped to track in her middle school days.

“I was a competitive figure skater, and I always said, ‘I’m never going to do sweaty sports,’” Long said. “I was just going to stick to cheerleading and figure skating. So when the coaches were like, ‘You should try track and field,’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ They ended up convincing me just because I had long legs, that I should be a high jumper. And as a seventh grader, I beat some eighth graders, so I thought that was really cool and then I stuck with it.”

With a background in figure skating, Long possesses jumping techniques different to the average high jumper. Associate women’s coach Stacey Smith trusted that Long’s jumping abilities on the ice would translate to track and field.

“We have not seen many like that, but she [Long] definitely has a unique background,” Smith said. “Ice skating was what really intrigued me when I recruited her.”

Long participated in 21 track meets before her first career victory at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Jan. 22. She tied her career-best jump of 1.67 meters to edge out the other seven jumpers.

“It was extremely exciting. I honestly didn’t know going into it that I would win,” Long said. “That was super exciting, just to finally be able to break through and finally see all my hard work really shine through. So that was a good feeling, especially to see the look on my coach’s face.”

After the Big 12 Championships in May of 2019, Long suffered what she thought was a minor back injury. As it turned out, the jumper was sidelined until January 2021. Undergoing rehab and battling the effects of COVID-19, Long maintained her faith throughout her recovery process.

“I think it was a blessing in disguise honestly, just because I needed the time off with my back to fully heal,” Long said. “I think it was great because I got to just rest and that’s not something that student-athletes are just used to.”

In her first meet back from injury, Long placed third at the Texas Tech Corky Classic on Jan. 16, 2021, with a jump of 1.63 meters. Fast forward to January of this year, she tied her personal best for the fourth time. Long gave credit to all of the people involved in her comeback.

“Firstly, [my] athletic trainers, they were a big part of that just because every single day they saw me in there for rehab and for treatment and they kind of helped me keep my perspective,” Long said. “Then my coach, she was very sweet, she would text me and check in … my parents were also so sweet and so supportive.”

Long plans to exercise her fifth year of eligibility by coming back next season and said she’s hoping for a breakthrough.

“I am just looking forward to making some corrections,” Long said. “I have some bad habits that I’ve been jumping with since seventh grade that I’m still trying to break. Hopefully, [I’ll] break some of those habits and get some good habits.”