Aiming high, Kabongo reaches new heights

Senior set to compete in 2019 92nd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays

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  • Warming up for the hurdles at a recent practice, senior Nissi Kabongo will be attending SFA in the fall after signing her Letter of Intent earlier this year.

  • In addition to being one of the top high jumpers in the state, Kabongo is a threat to place in several other events including the hurdles.

  • Entering the Wildcat Relays in February, Kabongo's personal record in the high jump was 5'8" but she beat the by two inches to set the top mark in the country at the time.

  • With girls' head track coach Amanda Zambiasi looking on, senior Nissi Kabongo prepares for the Texas Relays at UT Austin on Friday and Saturday.

  • Stretching with other girls on the track team, senior Nissi Kabongo is one of this year's leaders. Part of the varsity team all four years of high school, Kabongo is aiming for a return to the state meet.

Raising the bar for Texas track and field, senior Nissi Kabongo is the number one high jumper in the nation, after her 5’10” jump at the Wildcat Relays meet in February. Her performance not only set a new record for the school, but a new national record as well for high school girls.

I screamed at first when I found out. I cried after because I worked really hard to get to this moment in my life,”

— senior track athlete Nissi Kabongo

“I screamed at first when I found out, I honestly didn’t know how to take in the information,” Kabongo said. “I didn’t really process it until later and I cried after because I worked really hard to get to this moment in my life. It definitely wasn’t easy It took me a year to get here because I had set these goals earlier and it didn’t happen right away so it felt really good.”

Entering the Wildcat Relays with a personal record of 5’8”, Kabongo exceeded that with a jump that landed her at number one in the country.

“Clearing 5’10” on her first attempt with ease was an incredible thing to witness,” head track and field coach Amanda Zambaisi said. “We can’t wait to see all that she will accomplish her senior year because she deserves all of the success earned.”

When it comes to being a high performing field athlete, Kabongo’s talent doesn’t stop there as she is also an accomplished athlete on the track, holding the school record for the 800m run with a time of 2:13:03, and the 400m dash with a time of 56.65.

“I feel like whenever you do track and field you have to put in more time and it really tests your dedication to the sport,” Kabongo said. “It’s a lot of work to let alone run and then have a field event to practice so I think it really helps me in that area. It also makes my legs stronger and an overall better athlete.”

Kabongo recently committed to Stephen F. Austin State University, where she will attend in the fall on scholarships for track and field.

“It sets the bar really high for me going in as a freshman at Stephen F. Austin as already being a U.S. number one,” Kabongo said. “It makes you seem like ‘that girl’ when you’re walking into the door and also money wise it’s just a real plus.”

SFA track and field head coach Phil Olson , “Coach Frenchie”, is confident in Kabongo’s transition from a high school to collegiate level for her sport.

“Our goals with her are to make an impact at the national level,” Olson said via text message. “We believe that she can be a first team All-American very quickly. Now which event, we don’t know yet. High jump and 800 for sure.”

Kabongo’s commitment to her sport is contagious, as her teammates and coaches have taken notice throughout her time spent in the redhawk track program.

“Nissi’s character and work ethic are unmatched by most others,” Zambiasi said. “She has a passion for life that shows in all of her actions. Nissi has dedicated herself to track and improving in all areas. She has had an impressive work ethic since her freshman year.”

Her character has impacted others far beyond her Frisco home, as her future teammates and coaches in Nacogdoches have already gotten to know her nature.

We would like Nissi to make important impact on the community. We expect her to be a power for good in the 21st century,”

— SFA track and field head coach Phil Olson

“During her visit she had already made friends with all event groups,” Olson said. “It speaks a lot about the type of leader she can be and about her abilities to blend in every environment. In our current society, it is a quality that will take her very far.”

Moving forward, she is leaving a legacy behind for generations of Redhawk athletes.

“She has been a huge part of this team since her freshman year,” teammate Amelia Jauregui said. “She’s always been so kind and respectful and such a great leader. No matter if she’s having the best day or the worst, she shows positive qualities that you want to see in both an athlete, student, and person in general.”

With another four years of track and field ahead of her, the future for Kabongo is promising, not only athletically but academically.

“We would like for Nissi to continue to make good grades in the classroom and to develop herself as a person to become a great lawyer,” Olson said. “And to make important impact on the community. We expect her to be a power for good in the 21st century.”