Fran's Saturday Stories: Carr's cunning - Bumpas' PR - 2 huge jumps (one counts) - The heart of Ben


Running the rope brings gold to Peabody's Carr.

Pierre Carr admits that you are not really supposed to watch your opponent while you run, but somewhere along the line, he must have been peaking.

Carr had 200-meter dash favorite Brady Gehret, of Altoona, well scouted before their much anticipated showdown.

“The one thing I noticed about Brady is that he doesn’t tightrope the line,” said Carr, who also defended his title in the 100 earlier in the day. “You’re supposed to run tight to cut hundredths of seconds off. He’s a wide turner. So what I tried to do is stay as close to the line as I can.”

Considering Gehret had blazed to a 21.12 in the trials, Carr, who clocked 21.35 to the oft-worked Gehret’s 21.61, was smart to employ anything he could to gain an advantage.

Tight-roping the line like an experienced circus act, Carr executed his plan to perfection. The result: a cushion he would not relinquish down the homestretch.

The fact that Peabody does not have a home track on which Carr could polish his turn-running skills makes the feat and defeat of Gehret that much more impressive.

“I didn’t expect to be in front off him [coming off the turn], but that was my goal,” said Carr, who will attend the University of Akron for football and track in the fall.


Another year. Another Gwynedd Mercy success story.

Like so many Larry Wilson coached athletes that have come before her, Taylor Bumpas has enjoyed a stellar career at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy.

As a freshman, she was part of the Class AA winning 4x800 meter relay. After being bumped to AAA the following year, Bumpas and her teammates finished second to the Chanelle Price led Easton squad. Then as a junior, she led an underdog GMA squad to gold again, clocking an improbable 9:04 considering the myriad of injuries to nearly the entire relay squad.

Yet, despite the impressive credentials, she headed into the final race of her high school career with something to prove.

“The goal was definitely be able to say I beat my sophomore [personal record] and be able to say I finished high school at my best,” said Bumpas, who will likely concentrate on the 400/800 next fall at the University of Maryland. “I didn’t want to have to go out saying my best time was from sophomore year. I think that personally for me was enough for me to want to go out, regardless of place, just be able to do my best today in my last race in high school.”

Bumpas took care of business, winning the Class AAA 800 in a time of 2:09.0, bettering the 2:10.92 she clocked when she placed third to Price in the 800 at the PIAA Championships as a sophomore.

The huge post-race grin suggested she was satisfied.   

“There was a lot of people who invested a lot of time in my practices and my training, and I wanted to make all that work come to fruition in today’s race,” said Bumpas.


The athlete jumped longer. The coach jumped highest.

The roar wasn’t quite as loud as the deafening thunder that accompanied Tom Mallon down the final straightaway earlier in the day, but a pro-Carlisle crowd seated on the far side of the track certainly grabbed everyone’s attention during the final attempt of the girls Class AAA triple jump.

There, across from the finish line where most eyes were affixed for the majority of the afternoon, an ecstatic Ashley Corum stunned the competition and herself, blasting the best jump of her career by more than two feet to win the event and defend her title.

The junior from Carlisle left little doubt.

Corum sprung from the sand touching off a wild celebration that continued to escalate, on the infield and in the adjacent stands, as the officials read the winning mark – 41 feet, nine inches.

“I’m so happy,” said Corum, whose previous best of 39-6 came en route to winning the event as a sophomore. “I surprised myself. I surprised everyone. I really am proud myself. I could not have done better today. I am so happy.”

The monstrous last-ditch effort was necessitated by strong marks from Stroudsburg’s Natasha McLaren (39-8) and Brittany Edwards of Baldwin (39-9) on their closing attempts.

With the highly competitive event no longer in doubt, the only debate was whether the athlete jumped farther or the coach jumped higher?

Unofficially, we’ll give it to the jumper.

“I’m very passionate about jumping,” Corum said.  “This is what I’m passionate about. This is what I want to do. Doing this and having the jump I did, I’m very happy with myself.”


You can't find any quit in little Ben.

For two days each May we bare witness to the cornucopia of emotion that is the infield at Seth Grove Stadium.

It will be hard to forget the tears of joy streaming from the puffy cheeks of first time champions Natalie Bower and Lauren Zarger. The assuaging grin of Taylor Bumpas. The redemptive swagger of Jimmy Tarsnane, who book-ended his senior season adding a victory in the 3200 to his cross country gold. Not to mention the sportsmanship of the fellow 4x800 finalists, who went out of their way to congratulate their opponent, C.B. South on taking down the record.
But the lasting memory for me, the defining moment, the best explanation into why these competitions are held in the first place, was the one last up close and personal look into the grit and determination of Lower Merion distance standout Ben Furcht.

As he did at the PTFCA Indoor and Penn Relays 3K’s, Furcht held a tenuous lead heading into the bell lap of the 3200, only to be passed in the final straightaway. This time a closing 59 from Tarsnane kept Furcht from the win.

Tarsnane would later admit his whole body went “numb” over those final few meters in an attempt to hold off Furcht, which he did by a spike length, 9:04.22 to 9:04.55.

Sure he gets passed. And sure someone else wins. Make no mistake, though, Furcht never gets beat.

He did everything he could, surging to the lead on several occasions trying to forge an insurmountable gap. And when caught, he doesn’t step aside, roll out the red carpet and pave the way for his pursuer; instead he digs in with that signature look – head bobbing between his shoulders - fighting to the finish line with the veracity of a pit bull.

His shoulders never slump. There is no quit. What flows through his veins is of the 14-carat variety. The effort exemplary. He has a heart of gold.

Robert Micikas – who did the same thing to Furcht in the Indoor States' and then Penn Relays 3000 - and Tarsnane may have finished first in those races, but in the eyes of anyone who has ever laced up a pair of racing flats, runner-up Ben Furcht is a winner.

Unfortunately it was one congratulatory handshake I did not get to make.


Nugent enters rare air - and obviously belongs.

Although it is probably somewhat blasphemous to compare Abington sophomore Leah Nugent to former Methacton superstar Ryann Krais, consider the day Nugent had last Saturday in leading Abington to the state championship.

Nugent, who anchored Abington’s 4x400 to victory in 3:49.54, won the 300 hurdles in 41.46, tying the state meet mark set by Krais in 2006. Krais still holds the all-time state record at 41.20.

Along with setting a state meet record, both Nugent and Krais led their teams to the AAA team titles (Methacton in 2008), and unfortunately and ironically, both were disqualified from the finals of the 100 hurdles after crashing over the final hurdle.

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