Thomas Sumter's Donhauser jumps her way to Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week


Bayleigh Donhauser is a new addition to the Thomas Sumter track team this spring, and she's making her presence known right off the bat.

The sophomore moved to South Carolina from Egypt last year, a classic tale for a military family. She jumped for Wilson Hall last season and thrived, earning a second-place finish at the SCISA state meet.

Seeking a change of scenery, she transferred to Thomas Sumter and set a new standard, immediately setting a new school record in the high jump by 10". She continued her impressive start to the season with a first-place finish in the event at the Diamond Hornet Invitational at Lower Richland. Her performance was enough to earn recognition as the Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week.

"It was really great. I don't know if I could've won without them," Donhauser said of the Thomas Sumter community. "They've welcomed me, especially with the track team. I've gotten to know everyone, and it's really inclusive."

Head coach Rob Coursey has felt her impact on the program.

"She really sets the tone for the team," Coursey said. "She's a quiet leader, but everything we ask her to do, she's more than willing to."

Donhauser set the new school record two weeks ago at Lugoff-Elgin, clearing 5'4". No other female jumper at Thomas Sumter had even cleared 5'. Coursey knew he had something special when he saw her clear the height in preseason practice.

"I knew she could go higher than 4'10," and I wouldn't give her the numbers for what she was clearing because I didn't want her to get too much into her mind," Coursey said. "She cleared 5'4" in practice, and I was like, 'Whoa, this is great.' We originally had 5'4" as the goal, but I think we can probably get up to 5'8" this year."

The sophomore had her eyes set on the school record from day one but didn't realize just how far she could go.

"I've been trying to clear 5' for a while, so clearing 5'4" was especially exciting," Donhauser said. "I was expecting to hopefully break the school record but maybe not with that high a mark."

Her success continued during the Diamond Hornet Invitational, where she won by clearing a height of 5'2". She was thrilled to have some great competition from both SCHSL and SCISA schools to push her in the meet.

"It's great to have a lot of competition, especially with the SCISA schools; sometimes the competition is a little sparse with the number of high jumpers," Donhauser said. "It was great to meet a lot of new people and be exposed to the public school system. It really pushed me, I think."

Donhauser was born to thrive in track and field. She grew up on the track, as her family was always involved in the sport. Her brother Wesley was a thrower at Harvard University. That lineage helps her continue to set high bars.

"I just want to continue having a great season and have great numbers with my high jump," Donhauser said. "And working on other events with my teammates, such as relays, is really important.

"It brought a lot of pressure off in the first meet to get a major goal out of the way and allows me to focus on little things to reach perfection in my mind with my jumping."