Victoria Crawford thought she was done with track, thought this weekend would be her finale for blazing down a lane.
But there’s something about finishing a career with a medal that can make the sport a little more tantalizing.
The State College senior thought she was out, but she keeps getting drawn back in.
“I’ve been more of a soccer girl,” Crawford said. “But now that I’m in a track mode it makes me want to do track.”
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Crawford is headed to Indiana University of Pennsylvania to play soccer, a plan she has had for many months.
She was a high-scoring forward for the Lady Little Lions, helping them to multiple District 6 titles.
But on Saturday, a year after helping her 3,200-meter relay team to a seventh-place finish at the PIAA Track and Field Championships, she and her teammates took a few steps up the medal stand by grabbing fourth.
“I was very nervous because I knew that we wanted to give it our all and at least medal,” she said.
With the help of Natasha Fedkina, Hannah Catalano and Emma Cousins, Crawford got one more medal and one more reason to rethink her plans. She said she’s been talking with her Crimson Hawks coach about her wavering plans, but no decisions have been made.
“I am very excited,” Crawford said. “Maybe I’ll end up choosing track over soccer. Who knows?”
Early Riser, Part I
The state track meet is a different experience for most athletes for a number of reasons.
For those who are used to competing in multiple events, and having competition spread over several hours, it can be a little disappointing when there is only one event in which to compete.
It’s even tougher when you start at 9 a.m., and are done before 9:30.
Such was the case for Bellefonte’s Mitch Grasser, who placed 21 st in the shot put, well below the medallists, his personal best and his goal for the weekend.
“It’s disappointing but it’s early,” said Grasser, who was hoping to throw 52 feet. “I didn’t feel very aggressive.”
The only other time this season he had to compete so early was at the Brookville Invitational, which opened the season for the Red Raiders.
Regardless, Grasser, who plans to enroll this summer at Penn State to begin working on a degree in mechanical engineering, had fun watching all the other competitions
“It was amazing,” Grasser said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.”
Early Riser, Part II
Also disappointed his day was done before 10 a.m. was Zach Moody, mostly because he is so used to having a lot to do.
The Bald Eagle Area senior ran in the 3,200 meters, taking 18th, but for one of the Eagles’ workhorses the last couple seasons, having just one race was tough to take.
“It’s the first time I’ve started with the 32 this early in the morning,” Moody said. “I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s nice I get to relax for the rest of the day, but I would like to take advantage of states as much as possible and compete in more events.”
The 3,200 doesn’t even have a preliminary round, like the rest of the track events, adding to the disappointment.
He also wonders if he could have done more, finishing in 10:05.93 but feeling like he had something left in the tank at the finish line. Last week at the District 6 championships he stumbled to the finish line, exhausted.
“It makes me wonder, I must not have pushed myself hard enough,” Moody said. “I don’t know why I couldn’t get at least a (personal record).”
Moody plans to attend Misericordia, running cross country and track, with an academic scholarship to study to be a physician’s assistant. He has long-range plans to be involved in the military after picking up that degree.
Even if he had a shorter day than usual, he still enjoyed the trip, which has so much more going on than the state cross country championships, at which he ran last fall.
“That was a lot of fun,” Moody said. “This is a little bit more exciting. I’m not the only kid competing for my team, and there’s just a lot more going on.”
A handful of Penn State football recruits were competing this weekend. Mount Lebanon’s Troy Apke was fifth in the Class AAA 100-meter dash in 10.85 seconds, while Trinity’s Brandon Kuntz, who plans to walk on with the Nittany Lions, was seventh in Class AA in 11.09.
The pole-vaulting pit can be intimidating to some, with the landing pad at the 50-yard-line of the football field directly in front of the main bleachers, and often the majority of the crowd will cheer and groan with each attempt.
State College’s two pole-vaulters competing Saturday, Kate Nese and Megan Fry, loved being in front of the big crowd.
“I really wasn’t that nervous,” Fry said. “I don’t mind a lot of people watching. I kept my nerves pretty well contained.”
They competed at Seth Grove Stadium earlier this year in the Shippensgrove Invitational, but that lacked the atmosphere of the state meet.
“There’s definitely a few more people here,” Nese said. “The crowd’s great. I love jumping with a lot of people. We love jumping with crowds.”
Nese tied for 21 st, while Fry tied for ninth, just missing a medal. On one of her jumps, the third attempt to clear 11 feet, Fry cleared the bar with her body but the pole landed against the bar and slid along it before falling. The bar stayed aloft and she was able to advance.
“I was really nervous,” Fry said. “I was really praying that it would stay on. I wanted to at least make 11-6.”
Nese is a senior and graduating, but Fry is a junior, and she wants to get back to the event.
“It’s a really great experience,” Fry said. “Just being here and jumping as well as I did is really good for me. Since I’m only a junior, just experiencing this will help me for next year.”
They also appreciated being around so many people who are passionate about track.
“This is great,” Nese said. “This is like the first meet of the year where track’s like a big deal. Normally track’s not a fan sport, but here everyone’s getting into it. It’s great competition.”