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Alton High School


Alton Athletics

Alton High School

Alton Athletics

Alton High School



6.0 years ago by Jeff Alderman

Girls Track Athlete of the Year Katie Mans of Alton - The Telegraph - 7/31/2017

PREP YEAR IN REVIEW: Girls Track Athlete of the Year Katie Mans of Alton


High jump perfect fit for Alton’s Mans

By Greg Shashack -


Alton’s Katie Mans, the Redbirds’ record-holder in the high jump at 5 feet, 7 inches, is a three-time Southwestern Conference and three-time sectional champion.


Billy Hurst / For The Telegraph

Alton’s Katie Mans went unbeaten in the high jump before earning a third-place medal at the girls track Class 3A state meet in Charleston. Mans, a three-time state medalist, is the 2017 Telegraph Girls Track Athlete of the Year.

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Billy Hurst / For The Telegraph

GODFREY – Long, lean and athletic, Katie Mans appears custom built for athletics. So growing up, specialization in one sport was a foreign concept to the girl from Godfrey.

Cross country, volleyball, ice skating, gymnastics, tae kwon do, Mans did them all. “I was all over the place,” she said.

Mans was introduced to track and field in sixth grade. She would not meet the high jump until seventh grade. And that encounter came by accident.

“Nobody thought I would be a high jumper,” Mans said. “Everybody was like, no, you shouldn’t do it. I said, just let me try it.”

It was an unsupervised leap, but an Alton Middle School coach saw from a distance and Mans was drafted as a high jumper. “They said, OK, we’re signing you up,” Mans said. “And I won my very first meet.”

That success in that event would come to define Katie Mans, the athlete. The high jumper. “I think I fell in love,” she said.

Following the 2016 graduation of four-time state champion and nine-time medalist LaJarvia Brown, Mans is building a legacy as Alton’s second greatest girls track athlete. Mans secured her third state medal as a junior in May, placing third in the high jump at the Class 3A state meet in Charleston to earn recognition as the 2017 Telegraph Girls Track Athlete of the Year.

“She really takes her craft seriously,” Alton coach Jaida Moore said. “Katie really wants to be great and I can see that in here.”

After placing eighth at state as a freshman and seventh as a sophomore, Mans cleared 5 feet, 5 inches to place third as a junior.

“I was happy with how I ended up finishing at state, place-wise, third place, great,” Mans said. “I thought that was amazing. I did better than my previous two years. But what I actually jumped? No, I wasn’t happy.”

Mans finished behind a pair of seniors, including 6-foot-4 state champ Jelena Rowe of Chicago Heights Bloom, who soared 6-0 and was the nation’s No. 1 ranked high jumper.

“It was eye-opening,” Mans said of watching Rowe clear 6-0 after going 5-7 as a junior to place second. “I had been jumping with her since my freshman year. To see her over three years – she’s what, 6-4 herself, a very tall lady – and while I know that girls can jump 6-foot, I never saw it in person. To know that is possible, I want to go after it and do 6-foot.”

That is on the wish list, but state championship is goal No. 1. “I’m chasing after it,” she said.

That would make Mans and Brown the lone state champs in Alton girls track history. But falling short would be no failure in itself.

“I think as long as I know what I put in, how I work, was my best, that will be enough,” Mans said. “I just feel like this is my year. This is my time.”

Mans’ first season as a high jumper produced a third-place finish at the IESA seventh-grade state meet with a leap of 4-9. A state championship game a year later with a jump of 5-1 as a self-taught eighth grader.

“Honestly, I just picked a spot on the track and I ran at it,” Mans said of her formative training. “I watched the boys, I watched YouTube, that’s how I learned.”

It apparently was not a simple matter of DNA. Mans’ younger sister Kellie Mans is also a track standout in the 400, but a failed high jumper.

“My sister is taller than me and she tried high jump and she couldn’t do it whatsoever,” Mans said. “She has no technique. For me, I don’t know because I never had a high jump coach. I kind of just run at it and just hope for the best.”

That leap and a prayer game plan has yielded three Southwestern Conference and three Class 3A sectional championships for Katie Mans. Last spring, she competed in six major meets before state – the Southwestern Illinois Relays, the Belleville West Invite, the Tiger Relays, the Madison County, SWC and sectional meets – and won them all.

Mans holds the school record in the high jump set at 5-7 from Madison County Meet as a junior and the Alton Invite as a sophomore.

She is spending her offseason working to build strength in her core and legs. She also recently returned from a track and field camp at Illinois State that stoked the fire to go higher. “I learned so much and I’m so excited to use and take the tactics that I learned there into next season,” Mans said.

Mans will return to Alton Redbirds volleyball in August, but college a year from now will see her athletic menu reduced to track and field.

“My parents and I would have never thought that this sport would become what it is to me today,” Mans said. “Everything that it has done for me couldn’t have happened, but it did. … I really am excited to see what I can do in college.”

Mans is already performing at a Division I college level. She laughs only slightly while uttering Olympic aspirations that would be a dream well ahead of schedule.

“Tokyo,” Mans said, “2020”