Swollen heel, sore hamstring; no problem.
Strath Haven senior Dayo Abeeb is no stranger to adversity.
Despite lingering injuries at Friday’s District 1 track and field championships at Coatesville, Abeeb won the boys’ Class 3A triple jump crown and earned a spot in next week’s PIAA finale at Shippensburg University.
The Princeton commit has worn hearing aides since he was about a year old after infections in both ears left him with “mild to severe hearing loss.”
So a few sore body parts couldn’t stop him.
“Just another setback,” he said. “After you’ve had an obstacle or challenge to overcome, and you do it daily and repetitively it just becomes instinct after a while. When I injured my hamstring last year or my heel this year, it’s just like any other day. You just have to overcome it.”
Abeeb passed on his final few attempts because his winning height, 46 feet, 7 3/4 inches, was already longer than his competitors.
He rested instead and stood outside the track, leaned on a chain-link fence and cheered for the other jumpers.
He will also compete in Saturday’s long jump championship.
But is it as exciting to stand and watch while others give chase?
“When you’re injured, yes,” he said, “but when you’re healthy you want to be on the runway, and you want to be jumping.”
Davies breaks own district record
Girard College star Thelma Davies was at it again, breaking her own District 1 record in the girls’ Class 2A 200 meters with a time of 23.49 seconds.
Davies, a junior, had previously set the mark of 23.98 in 2016.
She will compete in the 200 finals Saturday and also the 100 finals after her leading time of 11.60 seconds on Friday. The district record, which she set in 2017, is 11.63, but Friday’s wind speed was just above allowable limits.
Rags to Riches
Hatboro-Horsham junior Allison Riches was safe, and that’s all that matters.
A fateful softball injury years ago sent her into the path of pole vaulting, and now she’s a district champion.
On Friday, despite the rainy, windy conditions, Riches took the top spot at 11-6 a year after finishing 14th.
“I think it’s different because I just worked hard throughout the summer and winter, and I kept listening to any tips I could get, and it brought me here,” she said.
A broken growth plate in her left leg during her freshman year also adjusted her journey.
As she crossed home plate for her travel softball team, Riches caught her spike, causing her body to tumble over her leg and “pop” her ankle.
“I don’t play softball anymore,” she said with a laugh. “I’m done with that!”
But did the run count?
“Yes, I did,” she said with more laughter. “It counted! It counted! That’s the important part.”
Riches will compete in the track finale next weekend and said she wants to break her school record of 12-1.
Poise Under Pressure
Cheltenham sophomore Brianna Smith won the girls’ Class 3A high jump championship with a winning height of 5-7.
The regrouping-poise-under-pressure award, however, went to Garnet Valley junior Isabella Ha, who finished seventh.
On her final attempt at 5-1, Ha tentatively made her approach to the bar but never left her feet.
Instead, she raised her arm in the air as if to jump but never left the ground.
The lack of liftoff seemed to shock her as much as onlookers, coaches and judges in attendance.
Hands over her face, she trudged slowly over to her coach, Terry Lillicrapp, who consoled her.
Both thought she broke the plane of the bar and thus would have been credited with a missed height, ending her competition.
“Everybody was looking at me like I was crazy,” she said.
Event judges, however, never flagged her jump, leaving another coach in the area to tell her she was still on the clock.
“You have 15 seconds,” a judge said.
Ha ran over to her mark, quickly went through her routine and approached again, this time with a livelier and more confident hop in her step.
She cleared the height and exited the mat with a lesson learned.
“I learned I have the height,” she said, “I just need to get myself more composed.”
She added: “You have to be cocky, in a sense, because you have to be more confident when you jump. It’s a mental thing more than a physical thing.”