SHIPPENSBURG - You could understand if Erika Voyzey was a little bit afraid.
After all, she's just a freshman. She isn't all that far removed from the age where there are monsters hiding under the bed and in the closet.
But what a freshman Voyzey's turned out to be for the Tyrone Area High School track and field team.
The youthful Lady Eagle star and District 6 Class AA champion tied a bow on an outstanding ninth grade season on Friday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium by jumping 5 feet, 2 inches in miserable cold, windy conditions to take sixth place in the high jump.
Voyzey was the lone area girl to medal on the meet's first day. All the track finals will be held today, as will the other half of the finals in the field events.
"I wanted to place. I have so many goals for my entire year of school, but today my coaches just told me to go out there and have fun, and that is what I did," Voyzey said. "It feels good. It feels really, really good."
Voyzey, who has been high jumping since third grade track and field days at her school and has cleared as high as 5-4 this season, was part of a very competitive field - Lakeview's Courtney King won it with a jump of 5-6, Hanover's Olivia Jendrezjewski also accomplished that height, and North Schuylkill's Carly Gregas got 5-5. Still, Voyzey said her major battles were being waged on the inside.
"The biggest challenge for me is realizing I can actually do it and not be scared and just be confident. I can do a lot of things," Voyzey said. "Coming to states is such a big deal. Coming as a freshman, they're like, 'You're [atypical]. Freshmen don't usually do that well.' But I wanted to change that. I wanted to be up higher with the other people."
Voyzey looked to those close to her to give her a boost in that department.
"I talked to my coaches, and a lot my teachers came up to talk to me," Voyzey said. "It's just calming down. It's just realizing it's going to be OK in the end no matter what. Staying calm and talking to other people helps a lot."
After receiving her medal, Voyzey seemed to be turning from a precocious freshman into a maturing young woman who should be a force in her event for the next three years.
"I hope for next year I just keep improving and keep going up. Practice makes perfect, so I guess that's what I'm going to do," Voyzey said.
Conditions were far from ideal. The wind and occasional rain made for frigid conditions, and it showed on results throughout the meet. While Voyzey won the high jump, Bellwood-Antis' Megan Martin, who's been routinely making 5-0 or better, was one of four performers not to convert the initial height.
The Central Cambria 3200 relay team of Jackie Bracken, Jordan Hayward, Alyssa Brandis and Sam Elkin looked to be in prime form and in great shape for a second straight medal. The Lady Devils stayed near the front for the first two legs before Brandis took the lead for good.
"It was awesome. All of our training paid off," Elkin said. "It was our starts with [Bracken and Hayward], and Alyssa kicked butt. Really, I just had to keep the lead that my teammates gave me."
The Lady Devils' time of 9 minutes, 50.07 seconds was the fifth best in the two Class AA trials. Twelve teams advanced to the finals. The fastest eight finishers this morning will medal.
"I think we feel pretty confident [about the finals],'' Elkin said. "It will be a tough race with the amazing athletes here, but we'll do our best and hopefully bring home a nice medal."
Penn Cambria senior sprinter Carly Petney moved a step closer to a medal in the Class AA 100. Petney ran 12.57 in her preliminary, good for fourth place and an automatic spot in this morning semifinals.
Tyrone's Jordyn Swogger also punched her ticket into today's competition by running a 26.46 in the Class AA 200. She finished fourth in her heat and will have to get through the semifinals, like Petney, in order to medal.
Although Swogger was second in her heat of the Class AA 400 with a time of 1:00.11, she missed out on a spot in the finals. She needed to win the race or run 59.63 to move on. Swogger and Voyzey also were part of the Lady Eagles' 400 relay with Michaela Diehl and Lexi Patton that was sixth in its heat in a time of 58.54.
Six other area girls were thwarted attempting to medal Friday in field events finals.
Hollidaysburg junior Makayla Williams was part of a nine-way tie for 14th place in the Class AAA high jump, where she achieved 5-0. Fleetwood sophomore Cyre Virgo set a meet record in the event, clearing 5-11.
Chestnut Ridge's Emily Finnegan managed a throw of 109-7, putting her in 12th place in the discus in Class AA. Finnegan is only a sophomore but was making her second trip to states.
In the Class AA pole vault, Huntingdon's Hannah Cunningham cleared 9-6, while Bedford's Carrie Baker made 9-0 before going out. That put Cunningham in a three-way tie for 12th and Baker as part of a four-way deadlock for 15th.
Central Cambria's Taylor King-Brothers placed 14th in the Class AA long jump, while Bedford's Kaitlyn Lippencott finished in a tie for 21st. King-Brothers jumped 16-2. Lippencott's top distance was 15-0.
The following area individuals or teams were eliminated in Friday's track trials:
n Elkin, Bellwood's Ellen Crook and Bedford's Jalissa Snyder each finished outside of the top eight in their prelims in the Class AA 800 run. Elkin's time of 2:27.74 put her ninth in her heat. Crook was eighth in hers with a time of 2:28.33, while Snyder ran 2:33.16 to finish 11th.
n Bishop Carroll sophomore Carrie D'Andrea registered the best time not to advance in the Class AA 300 hurdles. She ran a 48.36 and was fourth in her time trial.
n Central Cambria's quartet of Larissa Hunt, Bracken, Hayward and King-Brothers, and Tussey Mountain's foursome of Courtney Rupert, Devin Folk, Morgan Lynn and Sam Coffman were ousted from the 1600 relay. Tussey posted a 4:20.87 (seventh in its heat), while Central Cambria recorded a 4:21.87 (fourth in its heat).
n The Bedford 3200 relay of Baker, Lauren Diehl, Jeri Rogish and Snyder was 13th in its heat. Its time was 10:39.33.
n Bellwood-Antis' Lauren Nevling ran the 100 hurdles in 16.78, placing her seventh in her trial race.
n Tyrone's Jordon Wiser was 12th in her heat of the Class AA 1600, crossing the finish line in 5:50.27.
n Everett's Shiane Pittman ran the Class AA 200 in 28.59 to place seventh in her preliminary.