Kayla Ellks barely got past the 16-foot mark during most of her high school career.
Then, during the Division III 2009 girls long jump, she popped off a 17-10 to take second behind Kylie Kopp's 17-11. That was Ellks' senior season.
It was the start of good things to come for the then Lordstown High School senior.
She went to Tiffin University, and during her junior season, just missed the NCAA Division II nationals in the long jump.
Ellks went 19-3 in the long jump, but missed nationals by inch. She went 39-5 in the triple jump. Both marks are Tiffin outdoor records.
Ellks finished 17th in the country in the long jump, but only the top 16 went to nationals. She took 24th in the triple jump, but only the top 20 went to nationals.
"Kayla has improved more than any coach could have ever hoped for," Tiffin jumps coach Marc Small said. "Not just by gaining over a foot of distance in long jump, but by her drive and work ethic. She has helped lead our women's team to the highest conference placing in school history. She came to Tiffin as a good long jumper, now she's nationally ranked and upcoming 2013 captain of the women's team."
Long jumping was her forte heading into Tiffin, but she picked up the triple jump when she was in the Dragons' fold.
"Long jump is you jump off the board one time," Ellks said. "Triple jump, you jump off a board farther away from the pit and it's a series of a cycle, then a bound in between that and then a jump in the end. It's a very technical event.
"It takes about six weeks to learn to do it properly. It was a lot of training and it didn't take away from long jump."
Small is amazed how fast Ellks picked up the triple jump.
"Triple is far more difficult to learn, plus I taught her from scratch so having such success in this short time shows a tribute to her talent and I think my training is pretty good also," Small joked.
Small hopes to see Ellks go 19-10 in the long jump and 41-0 in the triple jump next season.
"I hope to qualify for nationals and be a good competitor for next year at the meets," Ellks said. "This summer, I'm putting in some hard work training and lifting and just getting my workouts in."
Her former coach, Frank Rahde, comes to see Ellks compete when she does indoor meet at the Kent State University Field House.
"He's always told me to work hard and I'd be going places. It's definitely paid off," Ellks said.