Name: Cierra Tidwell
School: Highland HS
High Jump: 5-10 @ Chandler Rotary Invitational
Long Jump: 18-4.5 @ Arizona Meet of Champions
100m Hurdles: 15.17 @ AIA Division I State Championships (Prelims)
Cierra Tidwell went undefeated in the High Jump this season and even won the Elite Girls' High Jump at the Chandler Rotary Invitational. At the AIA Track and Field State Championships, she captured her third consecutive High Jump State Title. That weekend, she joined her Hawk teammates to dominate the 4x100m Relay and then took 4th place in the D1 Girls Long Jump competition.
Where are you from and when did you begin competing in track and field?
I'm from Mesa, Arizona. I started competing in track and field in 8th grade.
What was your favorite memory of high school track and field?
The summer before my sophomore year, I started competing for Arizona Elite Track Club. That year, we had our first meet at Brophy and even though the rest of the meet had ended, I was still jumping. One of my head coaches asked my club teammates to come support me. It was cool that they all surrounded high jump and cheered me on. I set my PR that season that night.
Do you follow any superstitions or pre-competition rituals when preparing for a meet?
High Jump is a super mental event and so I'm always preparing mentally the night before. I use prayer as a form of meditation. I also imagine the meet before I go into it. I actually learned this technique from Jenna McDowell, who currently holds the current Arizona State-Record holder. She says that every night before she went to bed, she would imagine clearing every height until she cleared the height she wanted to get.
Who would you consider your toughest rival/competition over your four years?
(Right: Tidwell ultimately placed 4th in the Elite Girls High Jump contest at last year's Chandler Rotary Invitational.-photo by John Hays)
I would have to say Anna Hall from Colorado. At Chandler Rotary my junior year, it was a little bit intimidating competing against her, because I was not well prepared for it then. My Senior year, I prepared for it better and I definitely went into it with more confidence the second time.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your jumping career in high school?
I probably would have started lifting earlier. I didn't start lifting until Senior year and I think it helped me a lot, but if I would have started earlier it would have improved more.
In addition to being a jumper for Highland, you competed for Arizona Elite Track Club. How different is the club experience compared to scholastic?
My club team feels like a family to me because the environment is super-close. We travel to a bunch of different places and get to know each other super-well. The main difference is that with club there's not a ton of people but we're all working super hard and we're passionate about training year-round. Whereas during the season at school, you don't get to know everyone as well especially at a school as big as Highland.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
My club high jump coach, Meredy Smith, has given me a lot of confidence. I don't think that I would have been able to accomplish all that I have without her. I had no idea of what I was doing my freshman year. I just showed up and thought 'I'm kinda' good at this and I like it', even though my form was not good at all. She's definitely made a huge difference in my performance, and she's always believed in me and been my best friend through it all.
(Cierra Tidwell signed with BYU this past February.-photo provided by Tidwell)
What was the deciding factor that made you choose to sign with Brigham Young University?
I really liked the atmosphere and all the people I met there were super-nice and inviting. I like that there's a lot to do. There are a lot of really gorgeous hikes close to the campus. It helps that a lot of my friends are going there and I have family that lives really close too.
What do you like about Coach Robison's coaching philosophy or style?
I don't have a lot of experience with his coaching style yet, but something I like is that he seems like he knows what he's doing, and also really laid-back and just wants to see you improve.
Have you decided on a major and if not, what draws you academically?
I don't totally know what I want to study yet. I've been drawn to environmental science so maybe something in that area.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of track and field?
During the summer, I love to swim. I like to hike when it's not super-hot outside and I like camping and hanging out with my friends.
Are there any shoutouts you'd like to give?
All my friends who supported me and believed in me. Probably Coach Josh Carter as well. He was an assistant coach for my club team. Coach Cliff McKenzie, my head coach for Arizona Elite as well. He suggested that Josh come over to Highland and coach me this season.
What is the best view in Arizona?
The Grand Canyon's pretty cool. I know a couple few short hikes around the city that give you a good view of the city. I like Brown Mountain and Papago Park.
What's the last movie you watched?
What is your favorite Pokémon?
Where is the best place to eat after a meet in Gilbert?
Raising Cane's. It's like 10-times better after a meet.
What are you most excited to do when you get to Provo, UT?
Train at the next level and meet a ton of new people.