Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Krogh has seen distance star Jillian King cry tears of joy. He’s seen the other kind, too.
“I saw her sitting in the bleachers, and she had a pair of crutches behind her. I thought she was joking,” Krogh said, recalling a meeting with King several months ago. “I asked her what happened, and that’s when the tears started to flow. It was such a heartbreaking moment. There was a lot of letdown there.”
King took a tumble while skiing down Gore Mountain in February, just before the state indoor qualifier, and broke the fibula in her left leg. The 18-year-old senior has been on the comeback trail ever since, and today it leads to Union College’s Frank Bailey Field for the 68th annual William F. Eddy Jr. Memorial Track and Field Meet.
Action gets under way at 9 a.m. in the Schenectady PBA-sponsored carnival, which has drawn teams from as far as Long Island, Buffalo and Plattsburgh, as well as a wealth of local talent.
King is a four-time Eddy Meet champion, though she’ll come in with only a dual meet and a pair of invitationals on her spring
“She’s as focused as an athlete can be,” Krogh said. “She wants to get on the track and run fast.”
King, however, isn’t sure what kind of speed she can muster. She’ll run either the 800 or 1,500, with hopes of moving up to her preferred 3,000 as the season progresses. Three of her four Eddy Meet championships have come at that distance.
“I don’t know if I’m back yet,” King said Thursday at a team practice. “I’d like to run fast, but I’ve got to see how my legs feel. I’ll gauge it off that.”
“She’s been running well, but we’re not pressing her, and she isn’t pressing,” Krogh said. “Her attitude is, whatever happens, happens. Whatever happens is meant to be.”
King wasn’t going to let what happened on Gore Mountain ruin her senior outdoor season. She had won the 300, 600 and 1,000 races at the Section II Division III indoor championships, and was primed for a big finish to her winter season when she took a spill.
“I wasn’t going to give up,” said King, who, as a junior, won the state Class A cross country championship. “That was not an option.”
“She did everything she could to stay in shape except, of course, run,” said Krogh. “She was in the pool. She was in the fitness center. She didn’t lay back. She was very proactive.”
But the Georgetown-bound senior wasn’t able to run competitively until this month.
“Mostly short stuff and relays,” she said. “I’ve been feeling a little better, and I’ve been slowly getting my times down.”
King won the 800 at last weekend’s Queensbury Invitational in 2:19.87, just edging Shenendehowa’s Alex Burtnick (2:19.98). She also helped Scotia-Glenville win the 3,200 relay with a 2:16 split, which has her seeded third for the Eddy Meet behind defending champ Jordan White of Holy Names (2:13.10) and Sarah McCurdy of Bay Shore (2:09.41).
“I never ran the open 800,” King said of her effort at Queensbury. “I went out in 72 seconds, and that’s really slow, so I came back really fast. That was good for my confidence.”
King won Eddy Meet 3,000 titles last year (10:09.89), in 2005 (10:09.53) and in 2004 (10:08.59), with her older sisters, Keelan (800) and Caroline (1,500), also prevailing at that memorable 2004 meet. King placed first in the 1,500 in 2006 (4:35.85), while as a seventh-grader in 2003, she took third in that event.
“I’m a nervous wreck, but that’s just me,” King said. “I remember in the winter, it was three weeks before the state qualifier and I was freaking out. I can’t help it.”
Defending champion Mary Kate Champagne of Seton Catholic (4:34.28) is seeded No. 1 in the 1,500, ahead of McCurdy (4:35.28), with King No. 5 (4:40). Champagne won the 3,000 in 2006.
Uniondale’s Ashley Hendrix is also slated to return, having won both the 100 high hurdles and the long jump the last three years. Hendrix is seeded No. 1 in the long jump (18-10) and No. 2 in the hurdles at 14.30 behind Madalayne Smith of Saratoga Springs, who posted a state-leading 14.04 at the Hartford Invitational. Klarissa Ricks of Holy Names also has an 18-foot jump under her belt, and will test Hendrix in the long jump.
Section II’s other returning champions are Zach Predmore of Shenendehowa (3,200), Chris Fagan of Albany (long jump), Steve Crouse of Colonie (triple jump), Catie Coxon of Duanesburg (discus), Kirstyn Newkirk of Fonda-Fultonville (shot put), Morgan Wheeler of Averill Park (high jump) and Michelle Quimby of Shenendehowa (pole vault).
Quimby went 11-11 for the best pole vault effort in Section II history at the Queensbury Invitational, and is seeded No. 1 ahead of Rome Free’s Kelly Benfey (11-5). Newkirk is No. 1 in the shot put (38-2) and shares the top seed in the discus with Coxon (116-10).
Section II’s other No. 1 seeds include Kareem Morris of Albany (100, 10.80), Nick Santos of Colonie (800, 1:53.37), Roland Graves of Guilderland (mile, 4:21), Sam Smith of Bethlehem (high jump,
6-5), Jake Platel of Bethlehem (pole vault, 14-9), Jim Schwendtner of Shenendehowa (shot put, 52-2, and discus, 168-9), Claire Hardwick of Holy Names (3,000, 9:57) and Sarah Palmer of Schuylerville (high jump, 5-8). Palmer’s 5-8 tied the state freshman record.
Shenendehowa (boys) and Holy Names (girls) are the defending team champions. Notable absentees on a prom weekend are girls’ distance stars from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Saratoga, and Colonie hurdle standout Jim Kehrer, who won the 110 highs last year.