West Xtra: Fort Cherry's Lucas hunts more javelin honors as track season begins

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Jenna Lucas hopes to make some history in her final track and field season at Fort Cherry High School.

The defending PIAA Class AA champion in the javelin, Lucas wants to win a second consecutive title in the event later this spring at the championship meet at Shippensburg University.

"No one at my school has ever won two state championships," she said. "I'm hoping to be the first one."

Lucas signed a letter-of-intent to compete for the University of Central Florida. The Orlando, Fla.,-based university granted her a scholarship that covers 65 percent of her costs.

"But they said if I throw 160 feet this spring, it becomes a full ride," said Lucas, a 17-year-old McDonald resident who plans to major in broadcast journalism. At UCF, she said coach Jeff Chakouian will have her mostly throwing the javelin and occasionally the discus.

She's rapidly closing in on her goals. At this past Saturday's South Hills Classic at Baldwin High School, Lucas defeated a field of 52 other competitors with a throw of 138 feet while competing with a pulled groin muscle. She also placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 103 feet. Teammates Rachel Bellhy placed third (109-5) and cousin Rachel Lucas (90 feet) was fifth in the javelin.

"We only had her throw twice [in the javelin]," said Ben Maxin, who is in his 10th year as Fort Cherry's track coach.

Maxin said Lucas missed most of conditioning for track season as she was finishing up her final basketball season with the Rangers. She was further delayed from working out with her track and field teammates as she had one of the lead roles in the school's musical, "Grease."

"I played Betty Rizzo, and it was a lot of fun," she said. "I didn't know anything about 'Grease' until we started rehearsing, and now I love the show."

Now, she's loving her role with the track team. Both she and her coach believe she has some great throws in her this spring.

"We were at a tri-meet at Monessen, and she was credited with a throw of 142 feet," Maxin said. "She did have a throw of 148 feet, but she just stepped over the line and committed a foul.

"At the state meet, she threw 147 feet, 1 inch, and she's already close to that early in the season with just 10 days of practice. We're going to be working on her mechanics and speed as soon as she recovers from her pulled groin."

Lucas competes in the other throws, the discus and the shot put. But in a bit of an unusual twist, she also long jumps.

"She's been over 15 feet for the past two or three years," Maxin said.

"It's kind of weird that I do the long jump, but I do it mostly in the smaller meets where we need some points," she said.

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