Raiders' Updike selects Georgia
Tamaqua Area High School senior Allison Updike signs a letter of intent to continue her track and field career at the University of Georgia. Seated with Allison (front, center) are her parents, Jackie and Ralph Updike. In the back row are TAHS Principal RuthAnn Gardiner, Director of Athletics Mike Hromyak, Head Track and Field Coach Tom Kanger, Assistant Track Coach Mike Sakash; and Updike's personal coaches, John Kotchmar and Barry Krammes.
In the movie "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," Uma Thuman plays a super heroine by the name of G-Girl who is capable of all kinds of fantastic feats.
Tamaqua Area High School has its own "G-Girl" now that senior Allison Updike has decided to continue her athletic and academic careers at the University of Georgia.
Wearing a black T-shirt with the Georgia "G" logo on it, Updike was joined by her parents, Ralph and Jackie Updike, as well as her high school and personal coaches as she signed her letter of intent Thursday in the high school library.
Updike's athletic career at Tamaqua has been filled with its share of phenomenal feats. She is the school's all-time soccer scoring leader, boys or girls, with a total of 88 goals. She is also a starter on the Lady Raiders' basketball team, which currently has an 18-0 record.
While she has two District 11 gold medals in soccer and two in basketball, it is throwing the javelin that Allison does best. She is among the top throwers in the nation.
Last spring, Updike captured the PIAA State Class AA title in the javelin with a throw of 161 feet, two inches. That was her third State medal, as she placed fourth as a freshman and seventh as a sophomore, the latter while recovering from a knee injury.
Along the way to the State gold, she also won her second straight Schuylkill League and District 11 titles in the javelin, establishing a new league mark at 156-9 and District record at 157-11.
Updike's success continued over the summer, as she set a personal best of 167-2 (the same distance as the current PIAA record) in winning the U.S. Junior National championship at Des Moines Iowa.
That earned her a spot on Team USA at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Foundations) Jnnior World Championships at Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, where she placed eighth overall, with her top throw at 50.08 meters (166-8).
"I can't express how rare it is for a girl from our area to make a U.S. team, and to finish eighth in the world is unbelievable," said Barry Krammes, the former Pottsville and East Stroudsburg University standout who has worked with Updike. "It's kind of amazing."
Because she demonstrated the potential to compete on both a national and international level, Updike was attracted to Georgia.
The Bulldogs' throwing coach, Don Babbitt, has coached 35 athletes who have competed in the Olympics and world championships, as well as 11 NCAA champions, 53 All-Americans and 30 Southeastern Conference champs.
"They have a very good coach in the javelin, and Coach Babbitt is known throughout the nation," said Updike. "I have confidence in him to make me better.
"On my official visit, I was able to hang out with him for two days, and getting to know him as a person and coach is wonderful. I also met the head coach (Wayne Norton) and got a feel for how things work down there."
Updike mentioned she also visited Texas Christian University and had planned trips to Texas A&M, LSU and Oklahoma, but cancelled the latter three when she decided to go with the Bulldogs.
After she decided on Georgia, Updike noted she received a text message from Marian High School graduate Kristen Shickora, who is a member of the Bulldogs' swim team, congratulating her on her choice.
By going to Georgia, Updike's aspirations include performing on the highest levels, nationally and perhaps some day in the Olympics.
"She just keeps looking forward," said Tamaqua Head Coach Tom Kanger. "She is not content with anything, and she sets her goals real high."
"When you are in track and field, your ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics, and I think that is what her vision is," said Krammes. "She has the talent and the work ethic. She's the total package, and I'm excited to see what her future is."
"I think she made a real good choice," added John Kotchmar, a Tamaqua High grad who works as a volunteer coach with the Raider javelin throwers, including Updike, graduate Casey Wagner (now at South Florida) and current State medalist Christine Streisel. "That is part of her goal and why she's going there."
"The World Games gave me a lot of confidence and a better understanding of the javelin, and it added to my resume," said Updike, who will major in exercise physiology. "I'm never going to stop trying to get better."