MADISON _ Savanna Marcantonio's dad, Frank, a frequent supporter at her track meets, couldn't make it to the Cliff Back Invitational because he wasn't feeling well.
The elder Marcantonio, however, wanted his daughter to know he was thinking about her and sent her a text during the high jump competition.
You've got this, it read.
Marcantonio, a Whippany Park junior, proceeded to jump 5 feet, 2 inches, matching her personal record, and went on to claim first place in the high jump at the meet held on Thursday, Jan. 2 at Drew University.
"I'm more consistent now," Marcantonio said. "I've gotten 5-2 a few times this winter. I'm happy with it. I feel like it's going to be a good season."
Wildcats assistant coach Katie Karovic, a College of New Jersey graduate and Whippany Park alumnae, advised Marcantonio to "jump" and "reach up" after the two viewed videos of her earlier attempts. Marcantonio did just that, putting all of her concentration into her form.
The ability to plant her foot and utilize her speed make Marcantonio a strong high jumper. In addition, she said that playing other sports has helped her flexibility and athleticism. A three-year starter at forward for the soccer team, Marcantonio was responsible for throw ins. She played basketball as a freshman and has taken part in spring track since entering high school.
In the spring, javelin is another forte and she aspires to compete in that event in college, where she plans to major in physical education.
"I'm thinking of college so it's my first time doing winter track," she said. "I want to get better and get ready for the spring."
Marcantonio's teammate, senior Alexis Schauder, cleared 9 feet to take gold in the pole vault. It was Schauder's second meet this winter and, although she vaulted six inches less than her PR, she was satisfied.
"I'm happy with how I did," Schauder said. "The last meet didn't go very well. I'm getting back into vaulting. Today was the first day back to school after the break and I'm a little tired."
Schauder, a club gymnast for 10 years, has greatly improved her swing. She's been working on her core and leg strength by lifting at the gym. She decided to try pole vault at the suggestion of her mother, who noted that other gymnasts had succeeded in the sport.
Undecided on a college, Schauder would like to study biology with a concentration in genetics.
Mendham's Megan Smith, a sophomore, took the 3,200-meter run in 11:56.32 despite experiencing lower back pain. She attributed the discomfort to "the pounding" caused by running.
"I was slower than I wanted to be," Smith said. "I'll take care of it and come back stronger. Everyone on our team worked super hard. My priority was to help the team."
Other first-place finishers were Randolph's Karen Hull (55-meter hurdles), Scotch Plains' Jenai Berry (800 meters), Chatham's Maya Lee (55-meter dash), Mount Olive's Sophia Redmond (400-meter dash), Scotch Plains' Julia Jackson (300-meter dash), Villa Walsh's Sara Hanifin (1,000-meter run), Mount Olive (4x100) and Melissa Aymil of Mendham (shot put).
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