Greensburg Salem vaulter McQuaide will make history at Penn Relays
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When Greensburg Salem pole vaulter Courtney McQuaide attempts her first vault Thursday at the Penn Relays, she will be making history.
McQuaide, a junior, is the first Greensburg Salem athlete to compete in the prestigious event at Philadelphia's legendary Franklin Field.
The Penn Relays begin Thursday and run through Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania. Among the local competitors will be Fox Chapel's Ethan Martin (3,000-meter run) and Colin Martin (3,000-meter run), and Ambridge's India McCoy (high jump).
Not every athlete gets a chance to compete in the prestigious Penn Relays. Competitors must meet certain qualifying standards and be in the top 20 among applicants.
“When Coach (Jeremy) Lenzi called and told me the news, I was so excited,” McQuaide said Tuesday while competing in a meet at Hempfield. “I jumped up and down and screamed.”
McQuaide got the call because she has cleared 11 feet, 3 inches and was ranked in the Top 20. She cleared 11-3 outdoors in 2012 at Norwin and 11-3 indoors in 2013. The qualifying height is 11 feet.
“My goal is to clear 11-6 at the Penn Relays and then 12 feet,” McQuaide said. “I'd also like to qualify for the PIAA championships and place in the top eight.”
McQuaide cleared 11 feet and finished fourth behind Hempfield's Lexi Masterson and Bridget Guy and McQuaide's teammate, senior Cassidy Shepherd, in Tuesday's meet. The trio all cleared 11-6.
Shepherd recently broke McQuaide's school record.
The quiet McQuaide said competing at the Penn Relays will be special.
“I know realistically I probably won't win,” McQuaide said. “I'd like to place.”
Lenzi added: “I'd like to see her clear 11-6, and that is definitely possible. From there, I want her to have a great experience and get some big-meet experience. The Penn Relays is a pinnacle for us.
“She's a little nervous, but competing in the event will be good for her. We're really, really excited about going. She deserves the invite, and it is representative of the work she has put in.”
Hempfield graduate Larissa Debich, now at Auburn, competed in the Penn Relays in 2011 and 2012, winning the event last year and taking fourth in 2011. Masterson also competed in 2012 and finished 15th.
Lenzi talked with Hempfield pole vault coach Matt Fox about what to expect.
“There is so much great competition for Courtney in (Westmoreland) County,” Lenzi said. “You have Cassidy, Lexi, Bridget and Norwin's Kelsey Plecenik, some of the best jumpers in the state in our section. The county meet will be competitive.”
Lenzi and McQuaide will leave Thursday morning for Philadelphia, and McQuaide will compete at 1 p.m. They will drive home after the meet, so McQuaide can compete in the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association track and field championships Saturday at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium.
“Cassidy pushes me to do better,” McQuaide said of her teammate. “I look up to her because she does some things better than me.
“We're actually close friends with all the girls in the county, and we cheer for each other. Everyone wants first, and everyone works pretty hard. We push each other.”
McQuaide began vaulting when she went out for track in eighth grade. One of her coaches asked her to try it because of her gymnastics background — she cleared 7 feet in her first meet.
From there, she was hooked. And Thursday, she will test herself against the best in the state.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Winfield man is one of a few to attend all 49 Super Bowl games
- Pens get physical, trade Goc for Blues’ Lapierre
- Plum’s 1st property tax hike since 2006 could reach 6.2%
- Pirates trade Snider to Orioles for minor league pitcher
- Letang produces 5 assists in return as Penguins defeat Jets, 5-3
- Springdale puts limits on adult businesses
- Charleroi preps for showdown
- No cross-checking here: Penguins misspell ‘Sidney’
- Plum School Board OKS teachers contract
- Cal U’s 22 Pushups effort draws attention to suicide by veterans
- New Derry woman charged after mail delivery of 4 pounds of marijuana