It's a time when most high school seniors are relaxing, enjoying their last months of school before moving onto greener pastures. A time to kick back for a while.
Don't let Kristy Kierulff know that. She thinks she has lightened her load substantially and wouldn't change her regimen for the world.
The Esperanza senior track and volleyball standout gave up basketball this year, giving her a much slower paced lifestyle than the three-sport one she had been accustomed to in her first three years as an Aztec.
The decision to drop basketball was a difficult one. Kierulff earned first-team All-Empire League honors in basketball as junior, but the constant pounding made the spring club volleyball and prep track seasons tougher than they already were.
"We have a hoop in our back yard, but that's really about all the basketball I get in now," said Kierulff, the eldest of four children.
Balancing her time between two sports, Kierulff makes a three-hour volleyball practice three times a week, working in some weightlifting and what little high jump work she can in the interim.
"My schedule is all right," Kierulff said. "I'm a little bit tired, but I'll be OK."
Volleyball has grown in importance to Kierulff because it will help pay her way through college. The senior recently signed a letter of intent with Long Beach State, but made sure to include high jumping in the spring as part of the deal.
Track is where Kierulff earned her athletic stripes, and at a very early age.
Kierulff "jumped" into the spotlight at the end of her freshman year, winning the State title in the high jump. The feat was the first time a freshman had accomplished it since the meet began for girls in 1974.
"I was really young back then and it was pretty big deal for me and everything," Kierulff said. "But I started to feel the pressure after that."
That pressure grew during her sophomore year and eventually ruined her second season at Esperanza.
Kierulff advanced to the Masters Meet that year, but failed to qualify from that event, which advances the top five athletes from the Southern Section, to the State meet.
"I think it was a good thing that I didn't make state," Kierulff said. "I kind of got a slap in the face."
Said Esperanza Coach At Britt: "They say sometimes it's called the sophomore jinx. They do these incredible things as freshmen and don't realize what they're doing. When they realize their achievement, it almost becomes an attachment."
During Kierulff's junior year, she cleared 5-10 in four meets on her way to another State title.
"Both of the wins were so different," Britt said. "It was a long road back for both of us."
For her efforts, the 5-foot-8, 132-pound jumper earned All-America honors from Track and Field News. She has the third-best mark in the nation among jumpers returning this season.
Last season, Kierulff also long jumped 18-3 3/4 to win the Empire League title and ran legs on the victorious 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
"She's not like the other kids," Britt said. "If she really wanted to just participate in track and field, there is no doubt in my mind that she would be one of the top three junior heptathletes in the nation."
Said Kierulff: "I'm taking track as serious as I can right now, but it's hard to work out hard there, then go to volleyball afterward."
Kierulff has established herself as one of he finest jumpers in county history, ranking third all-time with a personal best of 5-10 3/4.
One of her goals for the upcoming months is to clear six feet, which has only been accomplished by one other county girl athlete: Yleana Carrasco of Anaheim High in 1985.
"I want to do six feet officially," Kierulff said. "That would be nice. I did it in practice one day last year."
Although he won't make any predictions, Britt doesn't see six feet as being out of Kierulff's reach.
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Girls' Track and Field at a Glance
Top sprinters and hurdlers: Ashley Bethel, Mission Viejo, Fr.; Kelly Bogan, El Dorado, Sr.; Dawn Brown, Canyon, Sr.; Mandy Clayton, Newport Harbor, Sr.; Latasha Dicus, Mission Viejo, Fr.; LaSheika Henderson, Trabuco Hills, Sr.; Jill Holmes, El Toro, Sr.; Inshirah Jones, Esperanza, Sr.; Pearlene Mercer, Western, Sr.; Beth Merkle, Mission Viejo, Sr.; Katie Mook, Foothill, Sr.; Kerry O'Bric, Edison, Jr.; Tara Oettinger, Foothill, Sr.; Kelly Phillips, Mission Viejo, Sr.; Marie Philman, Edison, Jr.; Meghan Reppe, Villa Park, Sr.; Laurel Simpson, Capistrano Valley, Sr.; Erin Stovall, Woodbridge, So.; Jamie Terry, Trabuco Hills, Jr.; Lucinda Watson, Century, Sr.; Meisha Wilson-Duval, Woodbridge, Sr.; Heaven Yoshino, Woodbridge, Sr.
Top middle and long distance runners: Tiffany Boykin, Laguna Hills, Sr.; Carrie Caulkins, Esperanza, Sr.; Tracy Clark, Corona del Mar, Sr.; Maribel Delgado, Santa Ana Valley, Jr.; Heather Cuthbertson, Marina, Fr.; Nancy Dollar, San Clemente, Sr.; Nadia Elgobashi, University, Sr.; Eliaser Estrada, Santa Ana Valley, Sr.; Heather Garritson, Buena Park, Fr.; Peggy Hall, Trabuco Hills, Jr.; Anna Kaisa-Niemi, Irvine, Sr.; Melissa Keenan, Trabuco Hills, Sr.; Katie Nuanes, Santa Margarita, So.; Courtney Pugmire, Esperanza, Sr.; Summer Shaw, Huntington Beach, Jr.; Jamie Vaicaro, Katella, Sr.; Keri Wright, Edison, Sr.
Top jumpers: Ashley Bethel, Mission Viejo, Fr.; Tina Bowman, Newport Harbor, Sr.; Erica Dickson, Mission Viejo, Jr.; Latasha Dicus, Mission Viejo, Fr.; Tayyiba Haneef, Laguna Hills, So.; Leila Khoury, Foothill, Jr.; Kristy Kierulff, Esperanza, Sr.; Beth Merkle, Mission Viejo, Sr.; Katie Mook, Foothill, Sr.; Kerry O'Bric, Edison, Jr.; Kelly O'Conner, Esperanza, Jr.; Tara Oettinger, Foothill, Sr.; Marie Philman, Edison, Jr.; Deidra Segura, El Toro, Jr.; Lauren Watson, Foothill, Sr.
Top throwers: Sonya Bryant, Marina, So.; Angela Burgess, Woodbridge, Sr.; Cara Heads, Newport Harbor, Jr.; Katie Okano, Trabuco Hills, Jr.; Marie Philman, Edison, Jr.; Lea Roussett, Newport Harbor, Jr.; Crissy Tolson, Fountain Valley, Jr.; Spring Trammell, Los Amigos, Sr.
League favorites: Century: Foothill; Empire: Katella; Freeway: Sonora; Garden Grove: Garden Grove; Golden West: Ocean View; Orange: Brea Olinda; Pacific Coast: Laguna Hills; Sea View: Woodbridge; South Coast: Mission Viejo; Sunset: Esperanza.
1995 preseason poll: 1. Esperanza; 2. Edison 3. Mission Viejo; 4. Woodbridge; 5. Foothill; 6. Trabuco Hills; 7. El Toro 8. Santa Margarita; 9. El Modena; 10. Fountain Valley.
Key dates: Trabuco Hills Invitational, April 1; Arcadia Invitational, April 8; Mt. SAC Relays, April 14-15; O.C. Championships, April 22; Southern Section prelims, May 13, and finals, May 20; Masters Meet, May 27; State Championships, June 2-3.