Jenna Lucas overcame a battle of nerves as well as a strong field of competitors to win a PIAA championship in the girls javelin competition last Saturday at Shippensburg University.
Lucas, a junior at Fort Cherry High School, won the PIAA Class AA javelin championship with a throw of 147 feet, 1 inch.
That's 2 feet beyond Tamaqua's Christine Streisel, who finished in second place. Lucas' throw was also 6 feet beyond the first-place throw in Class AAA.
But as Lucas approached the runway on Saturday at the state championship meet, she admitted that she was a little nervous.
"I was worried about Streisel," Lucas said.
She noted that Streisel has always provided the most competition for her.
Lucas felt warmed up and ready before throwing in the javelin finals. The day before, she recorded an eighth-place finish in the discus competition, throwing it 116-1.
"I threw a [personal record in the discus] by, like, 8 feet," Lucas said. "It hyped me up for Saturday."
Saturday arrived cold and windy, but Lucas launched a great throw. Although she was quite pleased with the 147-foot throw, Lucas watched nervously to see if Streisel could top it.
Lucas noted that Streisel's throws stayed in the 130s until her fourth throw.
"[That throw] made me a little nervous," Lucas said. "Streisel's throw was still 3 feet off mine. -- there was something about her that didn't look like her full potential."
Streisel's throws topped out at 144-11.
"Whenever she didn't beat me," Lucas said, "it was like a load off of my shoulders."
As Lucas left the medals stand on Saturday, seven news media people immediately approached her with interview questions. One of them even wanted her to appear on video.
"They didn't even tell me the questions before they asked them," Lucas said, recounting the informal "press conference."
She noted that she handled the interviews well, not stammering or stuttering with her answers.
Lucas said her next objective is preparing for USA Track and Field World Youth trials, to take place June 25-26 in Edwardsville, Ill.
"I still have to get my plane ticket," Lucas said.
When asked how she would travel via airline with a javelin, Lucas added that she hadn't yet had an opportunity to figure that out.
"I'll probably just put it under my seat," she said, with amiable tongue in cheek.
At World Youth Trials, Lucas will compete for the chance to go to IAAF World Youth Championships with team USA. Those championships are scheduled for July 10-14 in Donetsk, Ukraine.
To maintain conditioning, Lucas will train twice a week with the Pacers Track and Field Club. On the days she's not working out with the Pacers, Lucas said she plans to work out in the weight room.
During the fall sports season, Lucas plays volleyball for Fort Cherry. But her track conditioning continues even as her volleyball camp starts each summer.
Lucas said that adding more distance to her throws has become about being smart.
"It's just being smart about the things I do the night before a meet," she said. "I'm not going to drink pop and eat junk and go to bed at 1 a.m."
Instead, Lucas gets rest and nutrition before her meets. She sometimes goes to bed as early as 9 or 10 p.m., and her family enjoys pasta dinners on days preceding meets.
The results show as Lucas' throws keep getting longer. For World Trials, she has a goal to meet of 155 feet.
"That'd be crazy if I hit that at World Trials," she said. "I hope the wind is in my favor and not like at states."