Bellwood-Antis High School's Ellen Crook received her Blair County Track and Field Officials Outstanding Performer Award plaque during a late-afternoon break in the District 6 Class AA Championships, and promptly dropped it on the ground.
"That's just me being clutzy, dropping everything," Crook said through an embarrassed laugh before joking. "That's why I got into running."
And Crook's legs are pretty potent.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Tyrone’s Erika Voyzey won the high jump for the second straight year with a leap of 5 feet, 6 inches.
Crook's nimble feet were enough to secure her a trip to states in the 1600-meter run, while an off-meet was still more than enough for Tyrone Area's Erika Voyzey to punch her ticket to Shippensburg in the high jump on Tuesday at Mansion Park.
The young Central Cambria 3200 relay also came out with a gold medal before the meet was suspended because of torrential rains, wind and lightning about halfway through. Five other girls from the area also earned their way to next week's PIAA Championship by virtue of top-three finishes in their respective events: Bishop Carroll's Carrie D'Andrea (300 hurdles), Huntingdon's Rachel Fleming (400 dash), Juniata Valley's Faith Leri (high jump), Penn Cambria's Marissa Myers (high jump) and Huntingdon's Steph Park (pole vault).
Ten of the 18 events were completed on the girls side. The other eight are supposed to be finished today, weather permitting - the event is to pick up at 4 p.m.
Voyzey, a sophomore, came in positioned to challenge four-time state champion Janae Dunchack's 4-year-old record meet record of 5 feet, 8 inches in the high jump, but it wasn't her day.
"It didn't go too well. It wasn't something that I wanted to do, but, oh well, there's always another time," Voyzey said.
There'll be another time becasue even an off day for Voyzey is better than most people's best. She cleared 5-6 to win the event for the second straight year.
"Not making excuses, [but] this was our hottest meet. I'm just not as prepared as I wanted to be," Voyzey said. "I don't really know what happened. Some people just have off days."
Voyzey was pushed by Myers. Myers turned in the best jump of her career - 5-4 - but couldn't clear 5-6. She'll head to the PIAA meet, too, as will Leri, one of three high jumpers that tied for third.
"I just base myself off myself," Voyzey said. "Myers, who got second, that's great for her. She did really well today. I think I just got lucky, because she's a great competitor."
Voyzey finished sixth at last year's state meet and, bad day or not, seems in a strong position to better that this season.
"As much as I can improve I will. My coaches are here, and my fans always come to support me. With all their opinions and thoughts in mind, I'll hope to tweak it up for states and bring the best I have."
In the mile, Crook jumped out to a big early lead but was reeled in by Marion Center's Hannah Fulton, and the Westmont tandem of Hannah Dorian and Maura Glennon and passed by Fulton at the start of the third lap and in danger of getting boxed in.
However, the Pitt-bound Bellwood senior managed to navigate the obstacles to get into position to pass Fulton with 200 meters to go and pull away.
"I like to kind of pace off of someone. I try to have someone lead me along, and, with whatever I have left, I like to kick and pass," the bubbly Crook said. "I think that the girl I was running against kind of new that, so she dropped back to pace off of me. That's why I went out fast to kind of get away, and I knew she would come up eventually.
"I was waiting for her. As soon as she did, I kind of got in the groove. I got to a point where once we got here, I'd try to take it home if I had it in me, and, luckily I did. So it worked out."
Crook's time was 5 minutes, 13.31 seconds. Dorian was second at 5:16.35.
Unlike many distance runners, Crook isn't a long strider. That might have come into play on Monday as she was able to squeeze through tight quarters without much trouble.
"Everyone always makes fun of me [for that]. I think it's because in soccer, I was so used to being on my toes, playing with the ball, so that's naturally how I always ran," Crook said. "We tried to open it, but then my coach said, 'You know, it works, so we're just going to keep it.'"
Crook made it to states last year in the 800. She'll try to qualify in that again today, as well as the 3200 and possibly as part of the 1600 relay. She's seeded first in the half-mile.
"It's like any other meet, and I'm going to go into it with the same mindset," Crook said. "Actually, it might be a relief only doing two events and not having to do the mile again."
An almost annual frontrunner in the event, Central Cambria came in seeded first in the 3200 relay by a healthy margin and didn't disappoint. The Lady Red Devils finished in 9:54.26, almost 3 seconds better than their previous best time and 15 seconds ahead of second place.
"We just went out there to do our best. We wanted to give it our all for ourselves and for our teammates," said Samantha Koss, who ran the third leg. "I was pretty confident. I wasn't really worried. I was just a little nervous because I'm just a freshman."
This is a team that could be on its way to bigger things for some time. Not only is Koss a freshman, but so is anchor runner Emma Wess. The first two legs were handled by Jackie Bracken and Hannah Swope, a pair of sophomores.
"I had some nerves. But, once the gun goes off, they're all gone," Wess said. "It's very exciting and a little crazy to be going to states."
Fleming also made it to states as a freshman, but the Huntingdon sprinter wasn't able to punch a return ticket last season. However, she knows she's going back to the PIAA meet as a junior in the 400.
"I just like to get a better time every time I run, and, hopefully, a school record," Fleming said.
Fleming did that courtesy of her 59.17 time. The race came down to the end with Ligonier Valley's Jasmine Connor, who clocked eight-hundredths of a second faster. Both times were better than the state qualifying standard.
Fleming entered the race as the top seed because Tyrone's Jordyn Swogger, who had the top time in the event this season, scratched out. Swogger has been dealing with a health issue that has limited her at longer distances, although she won her preliminary heat of the 200 meters convincingly.
D'Andrea was in a battle with Connor after a great start in the 300 hurdles but hit the next to last hurdle and came down awkwardly. She and O'Connor still were far enough ahead of the field that she was able to finish second and punch a return trip to states.
D'Andrea's time was 47.26. Connor ended up breaking the meet record oif 45.65 with a 45.27.
Park advanced in the pole vault. Her 9-6 tied Penns Manor's Devon Bratton for second place behind Lexie Zimmerman, who vaulted 10-0.
Key, team scoring (through 10 events): 1, R-Richland, 58; 2, LV-Ligonier Valley, 34; 3 (tie), BA-Bellwood-Antis, and BM-Bishop McCort, 27; 5, WH-Westmont Hilltop, 26 1/2; 6, FH-Forest Hills, 26; 7 (tie), ; CC-Central Cambria, and SA-Saltsburg, 21; 9, HD-Huntingdon, 20 1/2; 10, U-United, 18; 11, PC-Penn Cambria, 17; 12, PM-Penns Manor, 15; 13, PV-Penns Valley, 14 1/2; 14, JN-Juniata, 14; 15, 15, HC-Homer-Center, 12; 16, T-Tyrone, 10; 17, BC-Bishop Carroll, 8; 18, MC-Marion Center, 7; 19, JV-Juniata Valley, 5; 20, BG-Bishop Guilfoyle, 4; 21, SJ-St. Joseph's, 2; 22, CH-Cambria Heights, 1 1/2; 23, BV-Blacklick Valley, 1; 24 (tie), BEA-Bald Eagle Area, CN-Central, MU-Mount Union, NC-Northern Cambria, PO-Philipsburg-Osceola, PT-Portage, PL-Purchase Line, SH-Southern Huntingdon, WB-West Branch, WL-Williamsburg, 0.
100 dash: 1, Miller, BM, 12.83; 2, Patula, R, 13.09; 3, B. Swogger, BA, 13.11; 4, Andrus, PV, 13.25; 5, McGhee, BG, 13.32; 6, A. Clayton, SA, 13.45; 7, Corson, FH, 13.59; 8, Sheehan, WH, 13.62.
400 dash: 1, Connor, LV, 59.08; 2, Fleming, HD, 59.17; 3, Marx, R, 1:01.09; 4, Helsel, 1:01.16; 5, Bishop, JN, 1:02.54; 6, Ingram, BM, 1:02.69; 7, Kaseler, WH, 1:04.44; 8, Rozich, R, 1:04.85.
1600 run: 1, Crook, BA, 5:13.31; 2, Dorian, WH, 5:16.35; 3, Fulton, MC, 5:16.61; 4, Glennon, WH, 5:20.15; 5, Wess, CC, 5:27.04; 6, Simendinger, PC, 5:27.37; 7, Teitjens, HD, 5:30.28; 8, Person, HD, 5:33.85.
100 hurdles: 1, Warshel, R, 15.82; 2, Novotny, FH, 16.53; 3, Pudliner, U, 16.59; 4, McIntosh, FH, 16.84; 5, McCracken, HC, 17.36; 6, Reed, SA, 17.40; 7, Wasser, CC, 17.96; 8, Roberts, BV, 18.14.
300 hurdles: 1, Connor, LV, 45.27 (meet record); 2, D'Andrea, BC, 47.26; 3, Kline, FH, 47.29; n 4, Warshel, R, 47.53; 5, Shade, BA, 49.13; 6, Wasser, CC, 50.82; 7, Surovec, SJ, 50.93; 8, Hayward, CC, 50.98.
3200 relay: 1, Central Cambria (Bracken, Swope, Koss, Wess), 9:54.26; 2, Homer-Center (McElheny, Paynter, Leysock, Albright), 10:09.09; 3, Westmont Hilltop, (Glennon, Tyger, Kaseler, Dorian), 10:15.33; 4, Juniata , 10:27.48; 5, Ligonier Valley, 10:29.11; 6, Bishop McCort, 10:47.59; 7, Richland, 10:49.68; 8, Penn Cambria, 10:54.16.
High jump: 1, Voyzey, T, 5-6; 2, Myers, PC, 5-4; 3 (tie), K. Clayton, SA, Lengenfelder, R, and Leri, JV, 4-10; 6, Martin, BA, 4-10; 7 (tie), Kubalak, PV, and Spaid, CH, 4-10.
Triple jump: 1, K. Clayton, SA, 36-3; 2, Warshel, R, 36-1 1/2; 3, Melendez, BM, 35-4; 4, Myers, PC, 33-11; 5, Miller, LV, 33-9 1/2; 6, Feather, R, 33-8; 7, Bloom, U, 33-7 1/2; 8, McKeel, CC, 33-3
Discus: 1, Fletcher, U, 109-9; 2, DaBella, PM, 107-10; 3, Ross, LV, 104-11; 4, Bienert, PV, 104-0; 5, Damiano, BA, 103-11; 6, Emel, PV, 100-11; 7, Foster, WH, 98-0; 8, Brocious, MC, 96-2.
Pole vault: 1, Feather, R, 10-0; 2 (tie), Bratton, PM, and Park, HD, 9-6; 3, Zimmerman, JN, 9-6; 5, Boyd, FH, 9-0; 6 (tie), Albertelli, WH and Lauer, HD, 8-6; 8, Rok, FH, 8-6.
n-advanced by meeting PIAA qualifying standard.