Freshman Phenom Breana Gambrell's success runs in the family

It would be tempting to say that Athens freshman Breana Gambrell is just a natural.

Currently ranked in the AA top five in the 100 (No. 2, 12.41); long jump (No. 3, 18-1) and triple jump (No. 5, 37-3), Gambrell currently has the school record in the triple jump and a share of the long jump record.

And while there is no doubting the 5-11 athlete's natural abilities, her success is also due to the fact that, in some ways, Gambrell entered high school as a four-year veteran.

Ardent followers of the jumps may recall that four years ago Breana's brother Jared, now a senior at Michigan State, set a new PIAA Class AA triple jump record (50-1.75).

And where was Jared's little sister during the weeks of practice leading up to the PIAA championships?

Right next to him at the Athens jumping pits.

“She would walk over and be with us at track practice," said David Gambrell, then the Wildcats jumps coach, now girls head coach. “She was like a gym rat."

“I did that a lot," said Breana. “I would come by the track and watch everyone do their thing. I would sit by the pits and watch my brother jump.

“I enjoyed every minute."

When the Athens fifth-graders gathered for their school end of the year “meet" that year, she showed that all that observation had paid off.

“We have a little meet at the end of the year and I actually ended surprising people in it," said Breana. “I jumped a 13-0 in the long jump at the time.

“I guess that's considered good for being only 11."

“I definitely did well in sprints too. I was definitely a fast child at the time."

Later the Athens jumper competed with the school's junior high team recording standout marks in the 100 (12.94), long jump (17-0) and triple jump (34-8.5) in the Northern Tier League's junior high championships last year.

Through it all her father has recorded every jump at every practice.

“They would watch a lot of tape," said the Athens coach. “When she jumped in fifth grade I recorded it, we watched it.

“Just like football and basketball it's film review,- what we can adjust to go just a little bit further.

"I do it for all the kids I coach."

Despite the years of observation, don't expect to see a carbon copy of her older brother

in Breana's approach to the pit.

"Everyone learns differently and everyone jumps differently," said Coach Gambrell.

"Jared had a power jump. Considering gender, she's faster than he was (as a freshman). So she has to be a little straighter."

Ready to roll

With the weather finally warming up the Athens coach thinks his daughter is ready to really break out.

"We're actually waiting for her to really peak this year," he said. "I know it's coming, it's a matter of time, we're just waiting for that nice day when its 70 or 80."

Tuesday's Athens/Wyalusing dual provided such an opportunity.

Breana duplicated her 18-1 long jump mark, first set at the jumper-friendly Lock Haven pits, and set a school record in the triple jump.

As the postseason looms, don't look for this freshman to be cowed.

"It definitely motivates me when someone is doing better than you are," she said.

"She's driven like Jared," said her father. "She doesn't like to lose."