West Xtra: Ambridge's McCoy sets her sights on a PIAA title

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD

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When India McCoy decided to go out for the track and field team in seventh grade, she didn't know much about the different events.

"I did all the events my sister [Kandace Smith] did," McCoy said. "And I've just stuck with it."

One of those events happened to be the high jump, and last week McCoy, a senior at Ambridge Area High School, won her fourth consecutive WPIAL championship in the event by clearing 5 feet, 7 inches.

"It feels great," McCoy said. "I'm really happy. I'm just blessed to have the talent to jump."

McCoy comes from a pretty athletic background. In addition to her sister, her mother was also a track athlete. Her uncle, Clyde McCoy, was a Big 33 participant in football who went on to play at Arizona State as well as a track standout.

In addition to her good genes, she also works hard at her craft.

"She's not too tall -- she's probably 5-7 -- but she's tall enough to have an advantage over the shorter girls," Ambridge girls track and field coach Ron Wilson said. "She is extremely explosive [as a jumper]. She also puts the time in practice to get better."

It didn't take long for McCoy to make a name for herself around the WPIAL.

As a freshman, she not only won the District 7 high jump championship, but she placed fourth at the PIAA Class AAA meet.

She did even better the next season, tying Penn-ridge's Anne Holland for the best jump at the PIAA championship meet at 5-7. But McCoy had to settle for silver after Holland won the jump-off.

Last season, McCoy said she was disappointed after finishing fourth at the state meet again.

So still looking for her first state title, she competed in indoor track for the first time this offseason. During the winter, she finally accomplished her goal of hitting the 5-10 mark.

She will be looking to hit that same mark this weekend at the PIAA Class AAA meet in Shippensburg. The meet begins Friday and will conclude on Saturday.

"I'm excited about competing [in the PIAA championship meet], but there is definitely a lot of pressure because this is my last chance," McCoy said. "I've worked so hard to try and get this and I don't want to let it all go to waste. Although, it hasn't because I did hit the mark I wanted to get.

"I'm just going to go out and do the best I can."

Wilson thinks that she's even more motivated because of what happened during last season's PIAA meet.

"I think last year was an eye-opener for her," Wilson said. "She's worked even harder and just keeps getting better."

She'll continue her competitive track and field career next season when she joins the Penn State University track team.

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