Voyzey, Frederick jump to PIAA gold medals

SHIPPENSBURG – Tyrone’s Erika Voyzey stood atop the medal podium at Seth Grove Stadium with a big smile on her face her hands on her hips.

Voyzey’s Superman-like pose seemed appropriate. Like Clark Kent’s alter ego, Voyzey is a powerful force who seems to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Or, at the very least, tall high jump bars.

Voyzey capped off a terrific sophomore season by winning the Class AA girls high jump on Friday afternoon at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Seth Grove Stadium. Meanwhile, Penn Cambria junior Marissa Myers placed eighth.

The Lady Eagle was the top seed and a pretty strong favorite coming in, consistently jumping 5 feet, 6 inches with a high of 5-8 this year. She lived up to that by clearing 5-7 to improve on last year’s sixth-place showing at states by five spots.

“I felt pretty confident,” Voyzey said. “My coaches told me just to go out there and have fun, and that’s what I did.”

It showed. Voyzey wore a big grin during most of the event which is so typical with her that it seems like it might be part of her uniform.

“I love to jump. It’s my favorite thing in the world. It’s so nice to be in the air and to compete,” Voyzey said. “I just love what I do. I would do it all the time. I just love it so much.”

Voyzey has been jumping competitively since track and field day when she was in third grade. But she’s been jumping around even before that.

“I always did stupid stuff when I was a kid. My sister and I would do backflips off the couch,” Voyzey said. “I guess it helped.

“I just go out there and have fun and do the best that I can do.”

Voyzey was dominating. The one hiccup came at 5-4, when Central Columbia’s Lindsey Carl made the height before she did. Voyzey’s poise never faltered.

“We have three jumps. As long as we get one in there, it’s OK,” Voyzey said. “Just clear heights. That’s what my coach says all the time.”

She also tried to set a personal record by attempting to clear 5-8 after winning the gold but missed on all three attempts.

Voyzey, who also ran on two Tyrone relay teams Friday, including one that took her away from her medal-winning performance briefly, said she hopes to improve on all phases of her high jump. She’s got two years to make good on that, good news for her supporters and bad news for her opposition.

But Voyzey has some very, very big dreams.

“My goal someday is hopefully to be in the Olympics. Or even in the Olympic trials. That would be so cool to me,” Voyzey said. “I would work my butt off.”

Voyzey and Myers have become close through competing against each other this season. The Penn Cambria junior was thrilled for the Lady Eagle sophomore.

“We’ve become best friends. We have,” Myers said. “It’s friendly competition, because we both know that we’re really good, and we give each other a push each time we compete against each other.”

The second seed coming in after jumping 5-4 at the District 6 meet, Myers was still very pleased with her eighth-place medal, as evidenced by her huge smile.

“My jumps were pretty good. I scratched a few times more than I usually do, but I made 5-2, and I’m happy with that,” Myers said. “I did my best. And is that really what it comes down to in the end? It is. My goal today was to get a medal, and I met my goal.”

It was a tight competition. Twenty competitors finished between 4-10 and 5-2. Myers was one of six high jumpers to record heights of 5-2.

“I was close to 5-4, but I didn’t quite get it today,” Myers said. “The competition was the tightest I’ve ever competed with. There’s so many amazing girls here high jumping.”

For Voyzey and Myers, it’s good to have friends in high places.

“It was so exciting. She was so happy,” Voyzey said of Myers. “I was so happy for her. That was awesome. And the girl that was third [Elk County Catholic’s Nicole Florio], too, I’ve jumped with her since junior high.”

The event was filled with are performers. Juniata Valley’s Faith Leri was one of nine tied for ninth after clearing 5-0. Bedford’s Katie Lippincott didn’t achieve the initial height.