Following in the footsteps of international sensation Leryn Franco and former teen pole vaulting sensation Allison Stokke, an Oregon prep high jumper is reaching new heights in both the high jump and off the track as a high profile fashion model.
As noted in this terrific profile by MaxPreps, Albany (Ore.) West Albany high jump superstar Rachel Proteau holds the best jump in the U.S. in 2013, clearing a height of 6-foot-1. That’s just three inches off the all-time prep record, and crushed a previous Oregon record set by 1984 Olympic high jump bronze medal winner Joni Huntley.
Proteau is multitalented in jump events as well, taking second place in Oregon in the long jump with a distance of 17-feet-6.
Still, Proteau’s success on the track has been matched or exceeded by the attention she has generated off it. The Kansas State signee was discovered by a fashion talent scout in a Portland mall when she was 14 and was recruited to become a model. She accepted, and three years later spent three weeks in Manhattan modeling and engaging in trial shoots for a wide variety of fashion labels, all in the pursuit of building up more name recognition in the mecca of the American fashion industry.
As it turns out, that experience might end Proteau’s modeling future before it begins in a more professional way.
The teen said that the entire Manhattan experience was too stressful, particularly for the near constant criticism she received for being, “too tall and muscular.” That criticism seems pretty unfair for a high school senior who stands 6-foot-1 and 145 pounds.
In the end, that may all be for the best for Proteau anyway, particularly if she hopes to have a strong future in track and field. At the moment jumping provides the teen’s escape from the rest of the world. If she can maintain that focus, she might just find herself competing in Rio de Janiero in less than four years time.
"You can go out and high jump and forget everything else. It's definitely an escape," Proteau told MaxPreps. "As long as my body lets me, I want to continue high jumping.
"That was my ultimate dream in high school — to be No. 1 in the U.S. It feels awesome."