Updike dominates field
bob ford/times news Allison Updike of Tamaqua gets set to launch the javelin at Saturday's PIAA State Track and Field Championships. Updike won gold in the event.
SHIPPENSBURG - Allison Updike has a new number.
She also has a PIAA gold medal to go with it.
The Tamaqua junior capped a phenomenal spring by winning the State title in the Class AA javelin Saturday morning at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.
Updike had already clinched first place by hitting four of her first five throws in the 150-foot range when she uncorked a personal best 161 feet, two inches as a victory heave on her final attempt.
Updike earned her third State medal in the javelin after having placed fourth as a freshman (throwing 136-2) and seventh as a sophomore (hitting 125-11) last year.
She was joined on the medal stand by Lady Raiders freshman Christine Streisel, who placed fifth.
Other TIMES NEWS area girls earning medals during Saturday's competition at Seth Grove Stadium were Lehighton senior Vanessa Rimbey, whose bronze in the AA 100 meter hurdles was her third of the State Meet; Tamaqua sophomore Amber Carroll, seventh in the AA 3,200; and Jim Thorpe senior JaAshia Page, seventh in the AA triple jump.
The PIAA gold medal was the second for a Tamaqua girl and the first since Tricia Plasko won the Class AA 100 and 200 meters in 1987.
"This is what I wanted," said Updike. "I had this dream/goal since the beginning of the season, and I just went for it."
The reality exceeded Updike's imagination. "Actually, it's a lot better. Now I can hold the gold medal and not just picture it in my mind," she related.
Updike was in a class by herself at States, capping a remarkable May run in which she continued to top her personal best week after week.
Not even the presence of two-time defending AA javelin champion and PIAA record holder Fawn Miller of Lakeview prevented Updike from her date with destiny.
"She was on a mission coming here," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger. "That series of throws she had today was incredible."
Updike was so dominant, even her worst throw of 148 feet bettered the second best performance, which was 141-6 by Miller. She would have also taken the gold in Girls AAA, which was won by Laura Loht of Indian Valley at 145-9.
Updike also threw 153-4 and 156-2 in the trials and was cemented in first place.
In the finals, Updike hit 154-4 and 152-6. After Miller fouled on her final attempt, Updike had the crown, as well as one celebratory throw left.
With the crowd clapping and cheering her on, Updike unleashed the spear, which took off like a laser beam. When it landed, official Bernie Forgotch announced Updike's a new milestone number as those who watched roared.
"Yeah, I have a new number," she admitted. "160 was what I had in mind. I had so much adrenaline pumping through my blood, I just had to throw it that far."
That distance is the second best ever in PIAA competition, setting new school and TN all-time records. It is also ranked fourth nationally by PennTrack.com.
Miller, who has the PIAA and overall javelin mark at 167-2, was less than 100 percent for the competition but went over and hugged Updike following the last throw.
"She was cool and congratulated me," mentioned Updike. "She said her elbow was still hurting her. She had an off year. I still knew I couldn't relax until she was done. There was a ton of pressure. There were newspaper stories about how Fawn Miller was still here to win. I couldn't let that get into my head."
The performance was a sensational ending to a campaign that started with Updike taking a modest approach.
"My goal in the beginning of the season was to come in healthy," noted Updike, who competed while recovering from an ACL injury to her right knee from basketball in 2009. "It felt so good to be healthy.
"This year I started off in the 140's, then I got in a bit of a slump, but that's how javelin is," she explained. "You have your ups and downs, but what you want to do is peak at the end."
The gracious Updike offered appreciation for those who helped her along the way.
"I thank God, for giving me the ability, my parents, John (Kotchmar) and Barry (Krammes, the former Pottsville and East Stroudsburg University standout, who has worked with her).They gave me all the support in the world."
Streisel also had a strong showing, with her top throw of 136-3 just off of her personal best of 139 feet.
"This is an awesome experience," said Streisel. "I was just so excited to make it to States that I just hoped to get a medal, it didn't matter what one."
Updike has proven to be a great mentor and role model for her protégé, much as former Raider and current University of South Florida star Casey Wagner, a three-time State medalist, did for Updike two years ago when Wagner was dueling Fawn Miller for the javelin crown.
"It has helped me so much having Allie here," she concurred. "She's so dedicated and hard working."
A third TIMES NEWS Area performer, Palmerton sophomore Kelsey Hay, also competed in the javelin and placed 24th at 104-5.
Hat Trick for Rimbey
After coming up empty of PIAA hardware during previous trips to States, Vanessa Rimbey made up for it this time.
After placing third in the AA high jump and fifth in the long jump on Friday, the Bloomsburg University-bound Rimbey added medal number three on Saturday, taking the bronze in the 100 meter hurdles.
Rimbey was consistent, getting clocked at 15.29 seconds in both the semifinals and the finals. Quaker Valley's Tabitha Bemis won the AA 100 meter hurdle gold at 14.74.
As she typically does, Rimbey got out of the blocks slow but she was clean over all the hurdles, and she three-stepped her way from behind in the pack to third.
"I never do get out of the blocks good, ever," said Rimbey. "I call myself the Comeback Kid because I always have to catch up to people. I just drive my arms. I can see everyone at my side. It makes you go faster.
"I hated to go through what I did last year (going medal-less). People would say it's all right, but no, it's not all right to me. I didn't want to feel what I did again, and as a senior, if I lose, I'm done. To come home with three medals, it's great. I made up for it in a big way."
Carroll sets mark
Amber Carroll entered the 3,200 meters as the two-time District 11 champion. She was seeded fourth with her District-winning time of 11:18.83.
In a fast AA field, Carroll was able to hang on for a seventh place medal, but her time of 11:03.59 not only easily beat the old Tamaqua record of 11:12.04, set by Alexa Griffiths in 2007, she established a new all-time TN mark; Northwestern's Lindsey Kerr held the previous standard of 11:04.73 set earlier this season.
"It was a real fast pace, and I just wanted to keep up with the pack," said Carroll. "I learned from last year that you don't have to be out in front to place. You can stay with the pack and not overrun yourself.
"I had it (the school record) in my mind. I knew what it was, and I felt I could get it."
Carroll also qualified for the AA 1,600 final, where she finished in 11th place at 5:18.12.
JaAshia Page was seeded tied for 10th in the triple jump, and she hit a personal best 36-5 on her final jump to clinch the seventh place medal. Julia Koloski of Montrose was the gold medalist at 39 feet.
"It's amazing," said Page. "Words can's explain this for me. I was nervous at first, but I remembered that I was here for jumping, and I got it going after awhile. I'm happy to get a medal."
Pleasant Valley senior Amira Jones tied for 17th place in the AAA triple jump with her best leap at 36 feet.