Fran's Friday Stories: Family PRs - Redemption - Reversing history

One is her favorite event. But she'll take gold in both.

Ask Cameron Lewis her favorite event, and the answer is simple.

“The triple jump,” said the Union Area High senior without a hint of hesitation.

Though, Lewis, the top seed in the AA triple jump, is forging a name for herself in the long jump as well, winning her first state gold with a leap of 18 feet 5 ¼ inches on her first attempt of the day.

The victory was vindication of sorts for Lewis, who a year ago, had to settle for silver when Kara Mostoller, of Reynolds, surpassed her on her final jump. Mostoller, a junior, missed the meet this season by just 2" at Districts after coming back from late December knee surgery for a basketball injury.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Lewis said. “Last year when I got second it just felt like it was taken away from me. It’s nice, especially long jump because I’m more known for my triple jump.”

Not surprisingly, Lewis also won the triple jump with a mark of 38-11 ¼.

 

The family PR leads to a state triple jump title.

Typically a state championship usually evokes feelings of elation. Not Jared Gambrell.

It made him mad.

You see Gambrell, a sophomore from Athens Area High, is competing in the triple jump for the first time this year. His victory, while obviously thrilling and satisfying left him wondering what if.

“I feel it’s really good, but it kind of makes me mad as well,” said Gambrell. “My dad and my jumping coach told me that I should have done triple jump last year.”

Gambrell, whose father was a standout jumper at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, concentrated on the sprints mostly as a freshman, before a growth spurt forced the 6 feet 2 inch Gambrell to rethink his event repertoire. While his size might be a detriment in the short sprint events such as the 100 dash, his lanky frame was a perfect match for the triple jump.

His winning leap of 47-6 ½ was just shy of his personal best mark of 47-10 set a week ago at the District 4 championships. It's also the family record.

 

"Watch out." (I mean that in a nice way.)

Courtney Kedra, Phoenixville, and Brittany Howell, Cheltenham, aren’t just great competitors, they are close friends too. Hailing from District One, they see each other often, and tend to bring the best of one another.

When Kedra jumped a season best 19-6 at the Montgomery Memorial meet earlier this season, Howell was there.

When Kedra again eclipsed the 19 feet mark again at the District One championships, it was Howell who was on her heels.

And when Howell won the indoor state championship this past winter, it was the fourth place Kedra, who was there with congratulatory wishes and a message for her jumping friend.

“Watch out, I’m coming for you outdoors,” said Kedra.

Keeping true to her word, Kedra claimed the Girls’ Class AAA long jump with a leap of 18-9 ½.

Kedra got off to a strong start, landing her winning leap on her first jump of the competition. Then she held on for a wild finish that saw the next two jumpers Howell (18-9 ½), of Cheltenham and Penncrest’s Lauren Tusar (18-9.75) finish within one half inch of her.

 

Not letting history repeat leads to title.

Souderton’s Kristin Smith had been there before. The state championship meet. Her senior season. Facing elimination at a height well below her best.

Staring at her third and final attempt at 5 feet 4 inches, Smith dug in.

“I didn’t want another repeat of indoor states,” said Smith who finished seventh at the indoor state meet after failing to clear 5-4. “I didn’t want to come in with big expectations and fall short at 5-2. I said to myself, ‘I have to make this. I have to do it for myself.’ I made myself breathe and pictured myself doing it over and over and over again.

“I was actually really nervous which is why I had to take three attempts at 5-4 because the nerves really shook me up. I knew if I just calmed everything down and carried through I would at least get on the medal stand.”

Not only did she make it to the medal stand. A personal best 5-9 effort landed her on the top rung. Stroudsburg’s Natasha McLaren was second at 5-7.

After the scare at 5-4, Smith made everything on first attempt through 5-8. Her winning jump came on her second attempt at 5-9.

“I was kinda just going at it like, ‘Ok, I already won it, now what can I do personally. I just really wanted to focus on [getting a personal record.]”

 

The experience of winning.

Connellsville’s Rodney Richter successfully defended his boys’ Class AAA discus crown with a toss of 183-7, bettering his winning throw of 175-7 last year.

“I was a little nervous last year,” said Richter, who is also the top seed in the AAA shot put. “This year I had a little more confidence coming in. Being first in the discus and the shot coming in I just had a good attitude about everything.”

 

 

It's pole vault or potato chips.

Georgia Williams of Bermudian Springs, grew up running, jumping spinning and twisting. But when she gave up gymnastics shortly before entering high school, her mom had reservations.

The kid needed to do something.

Said Williams: “My mom was like ‘you’re going into high school. You need to do something. You can’t be a lazy bum and just sit at home and sit on the computer and watch TV and eat your chips.’ ”

That something turned out to be the pole vault.

Williams and her mother were at Shippensburg to watch a former gymnastic teammate of Georgia compete in the state championship triple jump when they happened upon a Fiber Benders brochure.

Mom said pole vault. Daughter loved the camp. The rest is history.

Williams, who boasts a personal best of 11-6, continued her ascension to the top of her sport, capturing the Class AA state championship by clearing 11 feet in a jump off against fellow junior Allison Vanek, of Wilson.

 

 

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