By David Willis
---- — Catherine Haut had long ago sent her childhood ballet shoes to the back of her closet. So, she certainly never imagined that experience would play a key role in leading her to the sport and event that would soon become an intense pursuit.
“I went out for track for the first time in the spring of my freshman year,” Haut said. “I tried everything, and when I tried the triple jump, I was really, really excited about it and really liked it. I used to be a ballet dancer, and the correlation between the jumping and leaping and coordination of ballet and the triple jump just made sense.”
Haut emerged as a star in the triple jump as a sophomore for Andover High, before multiple injuries ruined her junior campaign.
Finally healthy, the Andover senior now has her eyes set on a huge senior season for the Golden Warriors outdoor track team before she graduates and heads off to compete for Colby College in Maine.
“I have been looking forward to this season for a long time,” said Haut, who is also a varsity football cheerleader. “The winter is good, but in the spring, I can compete in the triple jump, which is so exciting. I didn’t have the best junior season, so hopefully I can make up for it this season.”
No one has more confidence in her than her coach, Peter Comeau.
“After all of her injuries, I never imagined she would come back as strong as she has this season,” Comeau said. “She can just do it all. She is a terrific triple jumper, she is our best sprinter from the 100 to the 400 (meter), she does the long jump and is even our second best shot putter after Courtney (Comeau).
“She is a very special athlete and person. I am honored to have had the chance to coach her.”
After trying a variety of sports growing up, and playing basketball in her first winter at Andover High, Haut went out for track for the first time the spring of her freshman year.
“I tried out a lot of different events,” she said. “I tried running the mile, and knew that wasn’t for me. Then I tried the triple jump and liked it. Coach Comeau took me aside one day and we worked on the footwork, and that’s when I really got started.”
After spending her first season studying record-setting Emily Belluche, Haut broke out as a sophomore.
She scored a victory at the Haverhill Invitational (34-0) and was third at Andover Boosters (34-6.5). But her biggest accomplishment was at the Merrimack Valley Conference Meet, when she won with a personal record (35-10 3/4).
“I honestly never imagined I could jump like I did that season,” Haut said. “It was a very unexpected season for me.”
The season was even more poignant because, at the time, Haut believed her Andover High career was at an end since she was transferring to Phillips Academy.
As an eighth-grader, Haut had been accepted to Phillips, but declined, because she said she felt more at home at Andover High. But she always wondered if she had missed out on an opportunity.
“I reapplied and got in. I felt like it was my second opportunity, and I had to take it,” she said.
But at Phillips, she actually missed being at Andover High. So she transferred back over the winter of her junior year, and quickly rejoined the track team. Her return to the Golden Warriors, however, turned out to be plagued by injuries, including stress fractures and a hurt hamstring.
Haut missed nearly the entire season, returning briefly to compete in the long jump at the MVC Meet. But that only strengthened her determination to come back even stronger as a senior, dedicating herself to fitness and weight lifting.
After a fall spent cheerleading, she began to return to her old ways on the track by winning the long jump at the MVC indoor meet with a 17-7.
“Once I jumped over 16 feet, I felt like I was a jumper again and my confidence grew,” she said.
She now looks to carry that confidence over to the spring season, the only season the triple jump is an event. She will also jump at Colby College, following in the footsteps of her mother, Andover High graduate Mary Beth (Boland) Haut. But not before she takes care of some unfinished business at Andover.
“I want to have one more great season,” she said. “Not just for me, but the entire team.”