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Lydia Bottelier made jump – and run and throw – to NCAAs


Lydia Bottelier found herself in a familiar position – on the podium or in the top four – in May’s ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Atlanta.

The Pittsburgh Panther and recent master’s graduate earned a bronze in the heptathlon. Within the heptathlon, Bottelier won the high jump and 200 meter.

This was different from the 2022 ACC outdoor championships, where Bottelier and her Panthers teammates finished fourth ... in the 4x400 meter relay.

Which was different from the 2021 ACC outdoor championships where Bottelier won silver … in the high jump.

“Surprisingly hurdles came a lot easier than I anticipated,” said the 5-foot-11 Bottelier, an All-American multi-skilled athlete whose signature is the high jump. “It seems a little daunting but with my height, and the approach to a hurdle is very similar to the last few steps of a high jump, the technique transfers.

“Hurdles came easier than say shot put where I thought: I lift, I bench, I ought to be able to throw this ball kind of far,” she admitted. “That was a difficult and very technical issue. You see the pros throw and they look so graceful then I go out there to try and throw and I look like Bambi on ice. With javelin, I have long limbs so if I stay patient, it works a little bit better.”

The Palisades star recently wound down an athletic career that makes Shohei Ohtani’s look one dimensional. At three different indoor meets this past winter, Bottelier took home a gold in high jump, the 4x400 meter relay and the pentathlon.

Bottelier started training for multi-events as a sophomore and competed as a junior. “I liked having all of these things going on and learning as I went,” she observed. “There is always some opportunity for improvement so being able to see that: maybe I had a rough day in shot put, but my 200 got faster. There was always some positive I could see.”

Heptathlon involves the 200 meter, 800 meter, the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin throw. Pentathlon drops heptathlon’s javelin and 200 meter; it also shortens the hurdles to 60 meters.

From Monday through Friday, Bottelier would train in strength, hurdling, heavy running and jumping under fatigue. Her “rest day,” Wednesday, would still focus on throwing. While theoretically Bottelier had weekends “off” for traveling to meets, she was also completing her M.S. in marketing science, meaning her down time was spent in the classroom.

“My freshman year, you listen to those voices of ‘Is this how I’m supposed to feel? Coach says we’re in a hard training period. Is it supposed to be this hard?’ But as you grow and get older, you realize that this is working,” Bottelier shared.

“You rarely have a day when you show up for practice feeling 100%. You’re practicing in conditions that you will compete in, which I think prepares you the most,” she concluded.

Bottelier won three state outdoor and two indoor golds in high jump at Palisades. In her 2019 senior year PIAA meet, Bottelier jumped 5 feet, 11.5 inches, which is still the Pennsylvania high school record.

She also won a bronze in the 4x400 relay and medaled in long jump, the 200 meter and the 400 meter. Bottelier owned a gaudy prep resume, even when her utter dominance of high jump is removed.

Father Eric had a very good prep track career – although “he ran for Jakarta International in Indonesia, so it isn’t like we ever went back to his high school as kids,” Bottelier smiled.

Palisades assistant Josh Kline, himself a high jumper, mentored Bottelier. “A lot of these girls didn’t have a coach who understood the sport in detail as he did. I was very fortunate to have coaches who believed in me and pushed me and helped me when I wanted to try something new like long jump or a relay,” Bottelier remembered.

She signed with Pitt, attracted to the family feel of coach Alonzo Webb and his staff. Webb was also open to Bottelier competing in different events. “We want you to be able to run and use your legs, high jump and build and grow,” Webb told Bottelier early in their conversations.

“It was an arduous process but I was able to learn and pick up new events along the way,” Bottelier continued, “while I was able to maintain focus on high jump.”

Bottelier ended her Pitt career in late May at the NCAA East Regionals with a high jump of 5 feet, 9.25 inches. It was the fourth straight year she made regionals in high jump and the mark – 1.79 meters – was her best in that competition.

More impressively, Bottelier qualified for pentathlon at the NCAA indoor nationals in Boston in late March, finishing 13th. That earned her a second team All-American.

“Being able to learn the multi and qualify at the national level was a huge accomplishment for me,” Bottelier shared. “I was very happy to have done that in my career and that is something on which I will look back positively. This was an event I didn’t fully do in high school.

“Every day at practice, I’ve been trying to be conscious and grateful,” she reflected. “Everyone has those days where they think ‘Why am I doing this?’ but I would always try and take a step back. I was able to enjoy every meet to its full capacity, even if they went poorly.”

For a multiple medalist in multiple events, not many went poorly for Bottelier.

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