To some track and field athletes, competing in the 200- and 400-meter runs, the high jump and the long jump in one meet would not only be grueling but detrimental to peak performance. Not so for sophomore Melissa McDonald of Mater Dei High School.
McDonald, The Times’ athlete of the week, thrives on work and competition, said her coach, Pat Callahan. In a 79-44 dual-meet victory over Bishop Montgomery Wednesday, she won the 400 (59.2), the 200 (27.5), the high jump (5-4) and the long jump (16-4 1/2).
She came back Saturday to place third in the 400 with a personal best 58.3 at the prestigious Pasadena Games, an invitational meet at Occidental College featuring some of the top high school track and field athletes in Southern California.
“She is very strong and she has got a lot of energy,” Callahan said. “She doesn’t worry about getting tired. She just goes from event to event.”
Her only weakness, according to Callahan, is the mental toughness that comes with maturity. “She needs to learn how to compete and get herself mentally ready,” Callahan said.
Until she hones her mental edge, shuttling from event to event is a blessing in disguise of sorts. It keeps her focused, Callahan said.
For her part, McDonald has been working on improving physically and mentally. She lifts weights year-round, which has helped her improve in the high jump from 5-0 to 5-4.
“She is not a prima donna, which is very helpful to the team,” Callahan said. “She has a tremendous work ethic. She doesn’t just have great talent.”
Mentally, she has been working on thinking positively to minimize nervousness.
“You always think of the negative things like losing or falling, but you can’t do that or you will never get anywhere,” she said.
McDonald, a starting guard on the Mater Dei varsity basketball team and the eighth of nine children, said her first love is basketball because she likes team sports. Her parents are very supportive even if they tease her about being the next Ms. Olympia because of her weight training, she said.
Her father also gives her newspaper articles of great basketball and track performances to inspire her.
McDonald said she enjoys track because of its competitiveness. Callahan just enjoys having her around. “She means four first-place finishes every time,” he said.
“If we could run her in eight or nine events, we would.”
Pam Fogg of Huntington Beach (4-1) pitched a one-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Woodbridge Monday in a quarterfinal game of the Woodbridge tournament and a six-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory over El Toro Wednesday to lead the Oilers to a third-place finish.
Lori Svoboda of El Dorado won the high jump at the Pasadena Games Saturday with a jump of 5-6.
Mater Dei High
Position: Sprinter, high jumper and long jumper.
Height, Weight, Class: 5-7 1/2, 120, Sophomore
Last Week: McDonald won the 200- and 400-meter runs and the long jump and high jump against Bishop Montgomery Wednesday. Saturday, she placed third in the 400 at the Pasadena Games.