Watching her steps
Paige Rittelmann was missing a step.
Well, more like four.
It took Rittelmann, a junior on the Butler girls track and field team, most of the season to finally give in to a major change in how she approached the high jump.
Rittelmann was used to an eight-step approach. Butler head girls track and field coach Annessa Steele and jumping coach Rick Zitalone wanted Rittelmann to go to a 12-step routine.
But Rittelmann balked at any change.
“They were pushing for it,” Rittelmann said. “But I kept telling them, ‘No. I didn’t want to do it.’”
Finally, though, frustration got the better of Rittelmann.
During her freshman and sophomore seasons, she advanced to the PIAA Track and Field Championships in the event, but didn’t place.
Early this season, Rittelmann was still only clearing 5 feet, 4 inches in the event.
She wasn’t getting any better.
“I was hesitant because it is a very big change,” Rittelmann said.
Rittelmann relented and tried the 12-step approach during practice the week leading up to the Baldwin Invitational May 6.
She tied for first place at Baldwin and honed the new steps through the team playoffs and WPIAL Northern Qualifier.
It paid off at the PIAA meet this weekend when she cleared 5-5 and placed fourth.
“They were right,” Rittelmann said. “I would have been stuck. I owe them a lot.
“When I got into the Top 8 this year, I felt so relieved. It was like, wow, I made it. I actually did something.”
Now, Rittelmann is thinking about doing something bigger and better in her senior year.
She wants to clear 5-8 — a jump that would surely put her in the running for a state championship.
“I really hope so,” Rittelmann said. “Getting 5-8, that would be pretty big. I just have to keep working. I think I can do it.”