Keiana Hamm took to the field Feb. 3 at the Mines Winter Classic in Golden, Colorado, where she leapt into CPP history with a record-breaking high jump of 1.67 meters.
Hamm, standing at 5 feet, 5 inches, looked up at the 5-foot-5.75-inch bar looming over as a roadblock in front of her.
“Recently, I got stuck watching the bar thinking, ‘It’s at my eye and now its above my head,’” Hamm said. “I see that difference and mentally, that’s my biggest roadblock. I just have to get past that one progression.”
Prior to the Mines Winter Classic, Hamm felt stuck around 5 feet, 2 inches. In Golden, Hamm entered a different headspace and blew past that roadblock.
“I was in the zone,” Hamm said. “I completely spaced out and didn’t even recognize it until after. It’s a huge mental aspect, especially with high jump and pole, to not get psyched out. My coach always says that’s the only thing where you win on a loss. You can be all the way up here, but you’re still going to lose because you didn’t click that bar.”
Hamm landed at Cal Poly Pomona after finishing her education at Ontario High School, where she also ran track and played volleyball. The road from high school to her now record-breaking performance was not smooth.
“Coming here, I was still near my mark from high school,” Hamm said. “Everyone has expectations when they get to the collegiate level. Some meet them. Some, like me, struggle for a year or two. It felt like each year just kept getting worse.”
Last season was cut short for Hamm after she broke her toe
Coming into this season, she felt she had to change her mindset. Instead of seeing a single goal, she broke it down into a ladder she needed to climb to get to the top.
Standing at 5 feet, 5 inches, Hamm has long struggled with confidence in her performance due to her height in comparison to her taller competition. She wants to prove that even relatively short high jumpers can still compete at the highest level.
“I’m a short jumper,” Hamm said. “They look at me and just think, ‘Oh, she’s not going to do anything,’ or ‘she’s just an underdog.’ I’m little, but I can jump with you guys, and I feel like I proved that.”
Hamm is uncertain about pursuing a future as a career athlete. She has already been injured multiple times and is worried about the possibility of future injuries and long-term back issues.
“I always want to see where my markings are at,” Hamm said. “I know that anything is achievable, but if it’s something that I feel at 25, I’m pushing it and just doing it to do it. I would say if I want to dabble, I can just do it half-and-half, but I am focused on my career after college.”
Whether she decides to pursue post-collegiate athletics, Hamm plans on a career as a divorce attorney. She is currently a senior business finance, real estate and law student, inspired by her parents.
“As a hobby I like taking things apart or I like to build something, but, that’s not what I want to do,” Hamm said. “My dad, he saw me as argumentative and thought that I would be a good lawyer. As I got older, she (Hamm’s mother) said that as my mouth grew and vocab started expanding, I might be able to do something like that. My mind was constantly challenged, and that’s what you need, something that challenges you.”
Riding the high of her jump, Hamm is hopeful the rest of the season continues to be one of growth.