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An Offer She Couldn’t Refuse: Bribe Leads Keystone Freshman Ava Patrick to Triple Jump and School Record

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ava Patrick didn’t really want to do the triple jump.

(Above, Ava Patrick reacts after breaking the girls triple jump record at Keystone High School/submitted photo)

The Keystone freshman had never participated in track and field before and she and a group of her friends decided to join the team. They looked for events to do together and honed in on the long jump and the sprinting events.

But Panther assistant coach William Weaver, who also teaches Spanish at Keystone High School, saw something in Patrick that led him to believe she would be a natural in the triple jump.

Patrick wasn’t budging. Her interest in the event was nada.

So Weaver bribed her to say, “Sí.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“I said I’d give her 50 bonus points if she tried it,” Weaver said. “She was like, ‘Alright. I’ll try it.’”

Patrick took to the event quickly. She jumped 27 feet in her first meet and got better and better as the season went on.

Tuesday afternoon in a tri-meet with Cranberry and Union/A-C Valley, Patrick broke the school record in the event with a leap of 33 feet, 3 1/4 inches, eclipsing the mark of 33-3 that had stood for more than two decades.

“Whenever I jumped that, it was pretty exciting,” Patrick said. “I kind of like squealed.”

When the season began, Patrick had no inkling she would even get close to the record, let alone break it as a freshman.

But every meet she added distance to her jumps.

From 27 to 28. From 28 to 29. From 29 to 31 and then to 32-10. Finally, a 33-3 1/4.

Patrick’s lanky 5-foot-10 frame makes her idea for the triple jump. Weaver said she showed an uncanny, natural talent for the event right from the start.

“She had good speed — she runs the 100 and the four-by-one, and she’s just built like a jumper,” Weaver said. “I definitely saw potential there. We just kind of set goals every meet. We were at the Franklin Invitational a couple of weeks ago and her first jump was 31-11. And I was like, ‘Hey, let’s get to districts, which the qualifying is a 32-6. She jumped 32-10.”

The next goal was the school record. Patrick’s eyes lit up.

In the meet before her record-breaking one, she jumped 32-10, but she took off a clear foot in front of the board.

“I told her it was really a 33-10,” Weaver said. “So, yesterday, she just went out there and did it.”

Patrick, who is only 14, is still a little rough around the edges — understandable since she had only been doing the triple jump for a few months.

That’s an exciting prospect for Patrick and Weaver — she can get much, much better.

“There’s still things to work on,” Weaver said. “Her landings is one thing we’ve been working on, and the second phase is always kind of the hardest to get down — that’s the next thing we’re focusing on. She’s definitely improved by leaps and bounds. To have this much success at a young age is pretty awesome.”

Patrick has already set lofty goals for herself, not only for the rest of this season, but beyond.

It’s a competitive year in District 9 in the triple jump. Union/A-C Valley’s Baylee Blauser is flirting with 38 feet. Cranberry’s Laiyla Russell in in the 34s.

Patrick’s philosophy: all it takes is one big jump to turn everything upside down.

“Some people don’t have good days,” Patrick said. “Some people have better days, so I’m just hoping next week it’s a good day.”

By the time Patrick is done with the triple jump in high school, she wants to be considered one of the best in the state.

If not the best.

“I just want to jump way farther now,” she said. “I want to try to get 39 or 40 by my senior year. I need to start working on that.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.