It took Allison Updike until her last throw on Tuesday morning to qualify for the women's javelin final at the World Junior Track and Field Games.
On Wednesday evening, Updike wasted no time in getting the throw that cemented her place among the final nine.
The Tamaqua Area High School state and junior national champion got off her best effort of 50.08 meters on her first attempt to make the final nine and eventually place eighth at the 13th IAAF (International Association of Athletics Foundations) World Junior championships, which are being held at Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada this week.
Updike, who will be a senior at Tamaqua High in the fall, qualified for the IAAF Junior World Games as a member of Team USA by capturing the junior national title with a personal best throw of 167 feet, two inches at Des Moines, Iowa last month. That tied Updike for the best javelin throw ever for a Pa. women, equaling the distance of PIAA record holder Fawn Miller of Lakeview High School, who is headed to the University of Florida.
On Tuesday, Updike's top heave was 48.93 meters, which translates to 160 feet, 6 inches and placed her ninth, with the top 12 moving on to Wednesday evening's finals.
For the finals, the qualifiers started over, with Tuesday's marks not counting. The top nine then moved on into the final round.
Updike uncorked her best throw on her first try. 50.08 meters converts to 166-8, according to the PennTrack website, and is second only to her junior national winning distance.
Sanni Utrianinen of Finland won the gold medal at 56.69 meters, which is 186 feet.
Updike admitted she battled early nerves in her first international competition but felt more confident once she reached the finals.
"It was overwhelming at first," Updike said on the USA Track and Field website. "Everything felt wrong in the qualifying, but tonight I had a smooth first throw and that got me my place. You just have to concentrate on yourself and believe you can do your best when you throw at meets like this."
"I thought she performed pretty good for her first competition like this," said John Kotchmar, Updike's javelin coach, during a phone interview. "She kept her cool. When you are competing with Europeans, it's a different level. You had five of the top throwers in the world here as juniors.
"She still fought it a bit today. Warming up, she looked good. She might have wamed up a little bit early, not much, by about 20 minutes, but that's something we learned."
It was also a long day for javelin competitors, who threw early Tuesday morning in the qualifying round but had to wait until about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday for the finals.
"All in all, it was a great experience for Allie," said Kotchmar. "She was pretty focused tonight. She got to compete in front of a full stadium tonight, because they also had the 100 meter finals and the decathlon going on."
Updike will stay for the remainder of the Games with the rest of Team USA, noted Kotchmar, who felt she handled the pressure that comes with competing on the world stage.
"She had her second and fourth best throws of the year here, and with competition like this, we'll take it," he added.