Molly Balcer isn't one of the most gifted athletes with whom Hilliard Davidson High School girls track and field coach Matt Beatty has worked.
Yet, the junior has built herself into one of the top long jumpers in central Ohio and one of the top high jumpers in the state.
"Molly's an average athlete, but she outworks people and beats them through technique and determination," Beatty said. "She's extremely coachable and she takes what she learns and applies it to her events. She gets the most out of her body and consistently beats girls who are more athletic but less disciplined."
Balcer won the high jump (5 feet) and long jump (15-10) to help Davidson finish second (91 points) in the 16-team Wildcat Premier on April 5 behind Gahanna (147).
She also won both the high jump (5-0) and long jump (16-2 1/4) to help the Wildcats finish first (123) in the eight-team Panther Invitational on April 11 at Darby ahead of runner-up Westerville South (121).
Balcer won the high jump (5-3) and placed fourth in the long jump (16-1 1/2) in the 15-team Dublin Classic on April 19 at Coffman as Davidson finished fourth (63) behind champion Thomas Worthington (101), and she placed second in the long jump (16-7 1/2) and fourth in the high jump (4-10) in the eight-team Freedom Relays on April 25 as the Wildcats finished third (65) behind host and champion Olentangy Liberty (78).
"My coach likes to say that hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard, so I put as much extra time into track as I can to help me compete with the girls who are more blessed with talent than I am," Balcer said.
Balcer said her parents, Denis and Rachel, taught her the importance of trying her best in everything she does.
"My parents place a high value on hard work and earning what you have, but they still love me even when my best isn't good enough to win everything," she said. "I'm a very competitive person who strives for perfection in everything. I feel a constant pressure to not slip up and let myself and everyone around me down."
Last season, Balcer qualified for the Division I regional meet for the first time, placing second in the high jump (personal-best 5-4) to qualify for state and finishing sixth in the long jump (16-5 1/4).
In her first state appearance, she placed fifth (5-4) in the high jump behind champion Loretta Blaut of Cincinnati Seton (5-7).
"That was an amazing experience because it was totally unexpected that I made it to state," Balcer said. "I definitely want to go back to state this year and beat my best jump by at least one inch because our school record is 5-5. I'm happy with how I've started the season because I've already jumped 5-3 and I didn't expect to go that high this early."
Beatty believes Balcer, who at 5-10 is three inches taller than she was a year ago, has a realistic shot at reaching her goals.
"There's a lot of luck involved in the high jump because you need to be on top of your game on the right day, but Molly's worked hard to put herself in a good position and she should only keep improving as she grows into her body," Beatty said. "The one thing that's certain is nobody is going to outwork her."