By John Reed
SC Staff Writer
Last week, the Penn Relays were held at historic Franklin Field from Thursday, April 24 to Saturday, April 26.
Junior high-jumper Christina O’Connor, who participated in the relays, believes this year’s team to be one of the strongest since her arrival at ESU.
“I am very proud of my team this season. Indoor, both the Men’s and Women’s teams had incredible seasons – both placing second at the PSAC Indoor championship meet,” said O’Connor.
“This outdoor season we have had many personal best performances. The combination of talent is great.”
With the Penn Relays opening events last Thursday, O’Connor’s event – the high jump – took place early with some discouraging results.
She no-heighted on three attempts at the opening height of 5’3” on a windy morning. O’Connor was one of seven athletes to no-height out of a field of twenty-eight.
“I feel as though my indoor season was much more successful than my outdoor season has been so far. A combination of two back-to-back seasons and aching knees has been cause for heights that are discouraging to me, but there is still time with a big meet left,” said O’Connor.
“I would have liked to have had a more successful season, but after such a successful indoor season there is not much to be disappointed in overall for the year. I am happy that I have made improvements in my high jump form, even if these improvements haven’t paid off in huge gains in heights yet.”
In early April, the ESU Track & Field team competed at the Muhlenberg Invitational where O’Connor hit the NCAA Division II provisional qualifying mark – jumping to a height of 5’6”.
This is the third consecutive year in which O’Connor has surpassed the provisional qualifying mark.
“I am always looking to better myself in any way that I can, and hitting this mark has proven to be a great confidence boost for me in each season,” said O’Connor.
With the automatic bid sitting at a height of 5’9.68”, O’Connor is only a few inches away from a guaranteed invite to nationals.
O’Connor’s previous best from 2013 – reaching the height of 5’8.5” – means that a realistic shot at the automatic bid isn’t that far-fetched.
“I think that the automatic bid is at a good height. There are few people that can attain this mark, but it is within reach for many of the jumpers in the nation in D2. I think that if it was lower there might be more people than they would like to have at nationals that make the automatic mark,” said O’Connor.
ESU’s jumpers go through an intense daily training regimen.
“On Tuesdays and Thursdays we practice actually high jumping, and on the other days we do drills, technical stuff, and running and lifting – to better our form and strength,” said O’Connor.
An Oneonta, NY native, the 2.5 hour trip to ESU makes it difficult for family and friends to see O’Connor compete live.
“My family is very supportive in every aspect. They have been to as many of my meets as they can and never showed disappointment in me – even when I didn’t do well – which has helped me to stay motivated,” said O’Connor.
Succeeding as an athlete isn’t her only concern at ESU – doing well in the classroom is also very important. O’Connor received the USTFCCA All-Academic award in 2012 and 13.
“I have had backing academically throughout my whole life. My Mom is a high school English teacher so education has always had a strong emphasis in our household.”
“I do feel as though I need to work harder in the classroom because of my involvement in athletics. There are times when I will miss my classes on very important days, so I need to be extra motivated on the days that I am there so that I can keep up.”
Majoring in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy, O’Connor plans on attending graduate school for physical therapy upon receiving her bachelor’s degree.
Whatever the future holds, she would like track to play a part in it.
“I would like to coach at some point and, in my field, I would like to deal with sports-related injury therapy,” said O’Connor.
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