Chapman rising as one of state’s top jumpers

Katie Chapman of Delta High School jumps in the finals of the long jump at the Tiger Invitational track meet a week ago.

Katie Chapman loves to argue. Always has.

“I probably argued over what color (baby) bottle I had,” she said.

The Delta High School senior track athlete is one of the best jumpers in the state. She seemingly came out of nowhere last year to win the Class 4A state triple jump title.

For a 5-foot, 4-inch girl, she’s got some hops. She’s also cleared 5-2 in the high jump, tying her for fourth as the best this season among 4A girls.

Seeing how far she was going on her first step in the triple jump, she and her jumps coach, Kelly McCormick, decided to try her for the first time in the long jump last week.

She qualified for the finals.

As well as she jumps, it’s not her first love. Arguing is.

“I’m a better debater than I am a (jumper),” she said. “I love to argue, and I’m not too bad at it.”

Chapman is an accomplished Lincoln-Douglas debater on the Delta speech team. She’s so accomplished, in fact, that she’s headed to Alabama next month to compete in the national high school championships.

It will mark her third trip to the National Forensics League championships, where the top 200 debaters in the country converge to compete.

Just as she believes she can go an inch or two further in the triple jump, Chapman is sure there are some debating skills she can hone.

“You can always get better,” she said. “There’s always something you can read (to be better prepared in debate).”

Some athletes enjoy the meets but hate going to practice. Not so with Chapman.

“Track’s like a break from school,” she said. “You’re like, Thank goodness track practice is here.”

On the track, she is able to put school work and debating behind her.

“They’re totally separate,” she said. “I’m really good at focusing. When I want to get something done, I get it done.”

Chapman was a diver and swimmer for three years at Delta, a sport she decided to forego during her senior year to focus on her other two passions. While she doesn’t regret her decision, she did miss her time in the pool. Chapman would often go over debates in her head while she was putting in long practice yardage in the pool to keep her mind occupied.

“I work better, I debate better, when I exercise,” she said.

Staying active is never a problem for her. She was the color guard captain for Delta’s marching band this year. She plans to try out for the Denver University jazz band this fall, although that will have to play second fiddle (or alto sax, as the case may be) to her debating, which she plans to continue in college.

She comes by her jumping ability naturally.

“I’ve always been really bouncy,” she said.

That may be genetic. Her father Tom held the school record in the triple jump at Paonia for 40 years.

“I think a lot of it is she is competitive,” McCormick said. “She wants to win.”

Last year, after jumping 34-8 to win the regional tournament, she uncorked a jump of 35-11 at the 4A state championships to win the event. It was a personal mark by five inches.

“I can honestly say I did not go to the state meet thinking about winning it,” she said.

McCormick said Chapman’s singular ability to focus is what separates her.

“It’s her attitude,” McCormick said. “If the weather’s bad, she takes it and goes with it.”


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