In the first full year of girls track & field here in the Redwood Empire Ukiah’s Pat Dittus became the first to break five feet in the high jump in 1976. That same year was a Sophomore who cleared 4-11 who would defind the event for many years to come.
That was Montgomery’s Deanne Neff.
Neff destroyed the Empire record the following year in 1977 clearing 5-5.
The first girl, in any event, to really get The Press Democrat’s attention with major headlines was Neff, who they labeled the Empire’s track darling in 1978. See story here
Neff’s best event was the high jump, where she cleared a North Bay League Finals meet record of 5-6 which was not matched in an NBL finals until 2013. Neff dominated the high jump, winning the Santa Rosa All-City meet, NBL, North Coast Section 3A, NCS Meet of Champions, again clearing 5-6, before tying for 8th at State, at yet a third 5-6 clearance. That mark lasted as the Empire record until 1989.
After high school Neff went on to the Santa Rosa JC and Sonoma State competing under her married name of Deanne Malvino. She became our area’s first NCAA track champion, winning the 1984 NCAA III National Heptathlon Championship.
Some other individual marks she accomplished included, 14.74 100HH, 61.66 400H, 18-2¾ LJ all in 1984 and 5-8¼ HJ in 1979.
INTERVIEW WITH DEANNE
Sonoma Valley’s Jackie Blake would break or tie the Sonoma County League Finals meet record all four of her years (1979-1982), 82 was 5-2.
1981 saw a rising star as Petaluma’s Tara Grieser set a Freshman Record at 5-3 and also won the NBL title.
She would again win league in 1982 and 1983.
The 1983 season saw what is still a record seven girls clear 5-2 or higher.
1983 Prep Best List
5-4 Tara Grieser, Petaluma, NBL Champion
5-4 Marnett Smalley, Sonoma Valley, 2nd NCS 2A, 4th NCS
5-2 Dana Bergman, Cloverdale, CMC Champion, NCS 1A Champ
5-2 Kerry Lemos, El Molino, SCL Champion
5-2 Michelle Brodnansky, Santa Rosa
5-2 Laura Gooler, Santa Rosa
5-2 Denise Marsh, Santa Rosa
In 1984 Grieser moved to 2nd All-Time, behind Neff, with a winning 5-5 jump to be crowned the NCS Champion that year.
A 5-2 high jump is really good but not really noteworthy here, unless it’s your worst event.
Santa Rosa’s Wendi Simmons could do it all including 5-2 jumps in 1986.
She is our Empire’s Best All-Around Jumper adding the high jump to her Empire records in the long and triple jumps.
high jump / long jump / triple jump * / Total
5-2.(441) 18-11¼….(537) 38-10….(549) 1527 points, 1985-87
Not surprisingly, like Neff, she went on to be a top Heptathlete.
6,078 points at 1996 Atlanta Olympic trials
(100H/14.15, SP/42-4¾, HJ/5-8, 200/24.31, LJ/20-8½, JT/125-5, 800/2:09.32)
At the end of this era it was Analy’s Jackie Hurt who would leap above the rest.
She would break the Freshman Record in 1987 with a 5-4 jump.
Deanne Neff’s 5-6 jump had lasted for the Empire record for 11 years before Hurt would go one better winning the 1989 NCS MOC title with a 5-7 jump.
That mark would hold up even longer lasting as the record for another 14 years.
Hurt would win the SCL titles from 1987 thru 1989 and held the SCL meet record from 1989 for 15 years.
1990 was another season with an amazing group of jumpers lead by St. Vincent’s Sharon Derr.
Derr would have her first of three jumps over 5-6 on May 5th at the Willits Invitational.
1992 Prep Best List
5-6 Sharon Derr, St Vincent, CMC Champion, NCS 1A
5-4 Jenny Brockman, Rancho Cotate, NBL Champion
5-4 Brooke Embry, Analy, SCL Champion
5-3½ Trish Aylor, Santa Rosa
5-2 Joelle Babula, Montgomery
5-2 Pam Karbowski, Cardinal Newman, was Ursuline
Kelseyville’s Danielle Muniz would break the Coastal Mountain Conference Finals Meet Record in 1994 at 5-5.
And it still stands today as the record.
The Empire Freshman Record would fall that same year as Rancho Cotate’s Jessica Wright would up the class record to 5-4¼.
The following year on March 15th, 1995 she would come within an inch of the Empire All-Time record with a 5-6 clearance.
Santa Rosa’s Melissa Guanella would win the NCS MOC meet in 1996 at 5-4.
She would win two of her eight NBL titles in the high jump.
Then came Mindi Wiley
As you have read we had had some pretty good high jumpers but none came close to what Sonoma Valley’s Mindi Wiley would do.
Her freshman year, 2003, she not only broke the freshman record but oliberated the Empire record with a 5-10 jump at the Viking Track Classic.
She missed the SCL finals with an injury but was hardshipped thru to win the NCS meet at 5-10 before taking second at state with the same height.
Her sophomore year she cleared 5-10 again on March 27th, 2004 as her Sonoma Valley team competed in a High Jump Relay and broke the still standing Empire record for that event at 15-4 (Mindi Wiley 5-10, Myra Slattery 5-0, Tressa Campbell 4-6).
That year she would win her first of three SCL titles and her second MOC title at 5-6. At state she would place 8th at 5-5. Painful end to Wiley’s season
It was another very good depth year for the high jump as Maria Carrillo’s Kaitlin Sather had her own 5-6 jump that year.
2004 Prep Best List
5-10 Mindi Wiley, 10, Sonoma Valley, SCL Champion, NCS Redwood Champ, NCS Champ, 8th State
5-6 4/7/04 Kaitlin Sather, 10, Maria Carrillo, 3rd NCS 5-4,
5-3 Myra Slattery, 10, Sonoma Valley, 5th NCS
5-2 Caroline Templeton, 12, Santa Rosa, NBL Champion
5-2 Caitlyn Zundel, 12, Piner, 2nd NCS Redwood
5-2 Chelsea Cohen, 11, Sonoma Valley
In 2005 Wiley would first up the Empire record with a 5-10½ jump to win the NCS Redwood Regional. That mark is still the Meet Record.
A week later she would again win the NCS MOC with her final Empire Record of 5-11.
A 5-8 jump would earn her her second state meet medal for fourth place.
Wiley won her fourth NCS MOC meet at 5-6. She would miss the state final nine by one place in the trials.
Wiley would conclude her prep career with the seven highest jumps ever and nine of the ten best and 22 of the best 28.
On March 6th 2010, Ursuline’s Michelle Stone would have an incredible early season double, vaulting/jumping 11-9¼ & 5-2.
She is the Empire’s Best Combo Horizontal Jumper ever, having Pr’s that year of 12-3 & 5-3.
Stone’s headlines came in the vault as 2010 was another hot year for high jumping.
Freshman Courtney Tuck out battled a great group of jumpers that year.
2010 Prep Best List
5-5 Courtney Tuck, 9, Petaluma, SCL Champion, NCS Redwood Champ, =3rd NCS
5-4 Luisa McInnis, 11, Montgomery, 2nd NCS Redwood
5-4 Julia Krickl, 12, Maria Carrillo, NBL Champion
5-3 Kiana Herold, 9, Sonoma Academy, CMC Champion, =5th NCS
5-3 Michelle Stone, 12, Ursuline
5-2½ McKennan Bertsch, 11, Santa Rosa
5-2 Kristina Brockman, Analy
Tuck would win the SCL title her first three years and clear 5-7 in 2011 at the NCS Redwood meet. Watch her clear 5-6 in this video
We have had two more NCS MOC Champions since then.
Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold was a three time CMC Champion.
She won the 2013 MOC meet at 5-7, then took eighth at the state meet at 5-6.
Santa Rosa Morgan Bertsch won her first of three NBL titles as a sophomore in 2012. She would win her first MOC title that year at 5-5. She cleared the same height at state to tie for 6th.
Bertsch soared to a state leading high jump of 5-9 at the Special Relays at Santa Rosa High March 13th, 2013.
The jump moved her to second All-Time behind the 5-11 jump of Mindi Wiley of Sonoma Valley and still holds that spot.
At the 2013 NBL finals Bertsch would equal the meet record at 5-6 held by Neff.
Bertsch would claim her second MOC win in 2014 with a 5-7 clearance.
Evolution of Redwood Empire High Jump Record
5-0 Pat Dittus, Ukiah 1976
5-5 Deanne Neff, Montgomery 1977
5-6 Deanne Neff, Montgomery 1978
5-7 Jackie Hurt, Analy 1989
5-10 Mindi Wiley, Sonoma Valley 2003-04
5-11 Mindi Wiley, Sonoma Valley 2005
State Meet Top Places
2nd Mindi Wiley, Sonoma Valley 5-10 2003
4th Mindi Wiley, Sonoma Valley 5-8 2005
Tie 6th Morgan Bertsch, Santa Rosa 5-5 2012
Tie 8th Deanne Neff, Montgomery 5-6 1978
8th Mindi Wiley, Sonoma Valley 5-5 2004
8th Kiana Herold, Sonoma Academy 5-6 2013
North Coast Section Meet of Champions by school
1989 Jackie Hurt, 5-7
1978 Deanne Neff, 5-6
1984 Tara Grieser, 5-5
1996 Melissa Guanella, 5-4
2012 Morgan Bertsch, 5-5
2014 Morgan Bertsch, 5-7
2013 Kiana Herold, 5-7
2003 Mindy Wiley, 5-10
2004 Mindy Wiley, 5-6
2005 Mindy Wiley, 5-11
2006 Mindy Wiley, 5-6
compiled by Jim Crowhurst