By Chris Villani

Sports Reporter/Columnist

Being among the youngest athletes in the field did not stop Nipmuc’s Kyah Montano from standing out in her first trip to the New England regional track and field championships in June.

The freshman earned a spot in the finals of the triple jump event and ultimately placed ninth with a leap of 35’9”; by far the top performance for a first year high school athlete. The showing at regionals followed a fifth-place finish for Montano in the MIAA Meet of Champions, which pits athletes from all divisions against one another.

Montano also placed fourth at the divisional state meet.

“Taking part in the track program and these meets has been a great experience,” Montano said. “It’s been great to have friends and family supporting me and it’s great to represent my team at all of these meets.”

Montano said her coach, Justin Townsend, encouraged her to try the triple jump at the beginning of the season.

“He put me in for a meet and I was successful, so I just kept doing it throughout the season,” she said.

Townsend called Montano a “talented triple jumper” who pairs her speed and coordination with strong skill and technique.

“I said early in the season that if she could get comfortable with the rhythm, she can add speed, increase her confidence and really start to attack the three phases. She did just that,” Townsend said. “Her competitiveness is virtually unmatched in practice and meets.”

Montano’s performance during the New England meet made her parents, teammates, coaches, and Nipmuc proud, Townsend added.

Montano said she likes the triple jump because she does not get nervous before competing.

“That’s why it’s one of my favorites, I can just do what I have to do and it’s pretty fun,” she said. “I know if I stick to my mark, I am going to be successful.”

Still, Montano said she was surprised at how quickly she was able to take to the event.

“I had great coaching and my friends helped too,” she said. “I am fast so the sprinting part of it has definitely helped me.”

Montano said she is hoping to eventually qualify for bigger meets, such as the national competition. She would also like to see as many of her Nipmuc teammates qualify for these competitions.

“It would be great to share the experience,” Montano said. “It’s a really great team environment and everyone is there for me when I need them the most.”