By ANDY WOLF
Without a doubt, University of Findlay senior Lydia Guagenti’s expectations are to win.
Marc Arce, her head coach, is just trying to keep her under control.
The UF standout and Bluffton High School grad is seeking a national title in the long jump after a runner-up finish as a junior. She’ll get her chance when the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championships begin Friday in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Guagenti will also compete in the pentathlon for the first time nationally on Saturday.
“It’s more just trusting in the training, setting a goal and having confidence to get that goal,”
Guagenti said. “In the multi, it’s especially important to bounce back if you’ve had a poor event. I work on staying confident and focused. It’s the last indoor meet. Just put it all out there.”
A year ago Guagenti entered as the NCAA indoor meet the 11th seed in the high jump and was just hoping to set a personal record.
She did so and more, finishing runner-up after clearing 5-foot-9 on her first attempt to break her old school record by of an inch.
Central Missouri freshman Erica Kinsey won the event by tying the national indoor meet record at 6-2.
The 26-year-old Kinsey, a native of Sweden, was rated as the seventh-best women’s high jumper in the world and has since moved on to coaching at Notre Dame College.
“It was nice to see (Kinsey) clear those higher heights and follow her lead because we had the same steps,” Guagenti said. “Going higher than what I’ve ever gone before was really neat.
Guagenti is seeded second this year at 5-8.
She’s seeded 11th in the pentathlon (3,730 points) and fresh off a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in the event.
Though her runner-up finish later on in the GLIAC meet in the high jump (5-7) left her a little disappointed.
“I was on a little bit of a high after the pentathlon but I knew the next day I had to come back and get things done,” Guagenti said. “Being an athlete in general, you can always attest the second day is harder because you’re body is a little more fatigued. ” It was a good learning experience to just remain focused.”
Her journey to the national scene in the pentathlon is only a few years old.
Competitors in the event are scored in each of the five events: long jump, high jump, 60-meter hurdles, 800-meter run and shot put.
Arce has seen her make strides from being just a high jumper to now being a quality college athlete.
“By breaking things up we opened a world for her and she began to see she can do quite a bit here,” Arce said. “Her expectations for herself are extremely high. Sometimes we have to try to manage that but I would rather have that problem.”
Guagenti had to learn shot put, long jump and hurdles, having done only high jump, 1,600 relay and 800 relay in high school.
She still equally considers those three events her worst, but is up for the challenge.
“I’m just excited to put it all out there,” Guagenti said. “I’ve had so many different coaches and such a cool experience to take bits and pieces of their success stories and their experiences and styles to channel in.”
Guagenti has also been able to channel in advice of her older brother John Guagenti, a five-time indoor All-American for UF from 2009-12.
Lydia noted John as being the first person off the track to congratulate her.
“It’s the same thing last year with John and the mental imagery,” Lydia said, of John getting her into a ‘mind, body, spirit visualization before competition’.
“The (family) support system has been huge.”
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