Last spring, Independence senior Amanda Pucella came up on the short end of a jump off for fourth place at the Division II regional track meet at Austintown Fitch High School. She literally was an inch away from a berth in the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track meet.
On Saturday, Pucella left nothing to chance as she cleared 10 feet to finish second and finally will make the trip to Columbus.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “It wasn’t too stressful this year. It was such a relief. We only had four girls over 9 feet so as soon as I cleared 9 feet I sat down and they said, ‘you guys made it.’ It was a great feeling.”
Pucella tied her school and district record and once she locked up her state berth she went for a regional title.
Girard’s Caitlyn Trebella had cleared 10-6 to move into first place so Pucella raised the bar to 11 but came up short to finish second.
“I had two attempts at 10-6 and the other girl who got first cleared 10-6 and I was just going to go for the win and I jumped once at 11,” she said. “The jump would have cleared 10-6.”
The near miss left Pucella feeling confident she can improve on her own personal best but the state protocol could alter her strategy.
“Last year they went 10, 10-4, 10-8, so I don’t know what I’m going to jump next week,” she said.
Regardless, she’ll spend the final week of her high school track career focused on going out with a bang. She hopes to do it with teammate Ellie Clymer, who finished tied for eighth at regionals.
“It’s going to be a fun week,” Pucella said. “It will be business as usual. It’s sad that my partner Ellie didn’t qualify. Her and I have been the team and practicing together. Maybe she’ll come up this week and practice with me so we can keep everything normal.”