Cooperstown’s Lucy Ford needed a personal best to win a state title in the high jump Saturday at the New York State Track and Field Championships in Middletown.
Ford, a junior, didn’t just get her personal best with her jump of 5-feet, 5-inches. She broke her own school record, again, and became the first Cooperstown Central School girl to win a state title in track and field. And she did it on an injured left ankle, the result of a deltoid sprain suffered May 4 at the Don Howard Invitational. Ford uses her left ankle to push off for her jumps.
“It took a personal best to win,” Cooperstown girls track coach Connie Herzig said. “She put everything she had into it.
“It was the prettiest jump I have even seen at any time in my career,” she added.
It must have been. Although the boys’ program has had several track state champs during Herzig’s 22 years coaching the girls at CCS, (and 31 years in coaching), Ford is the first state champion she has ever coached.
It helps to coach someone like Ford, who Herzig praised as an athlete and a person.
“Lucy has this lovely way of viewing the world and herself in a positive way and she sees the bigger picture,” Herzig said. “She is confident without being cocky and is able to keep a cool head at all times. She is a dream to coach. She is also very much a team player.”
“Lucy’s main gift is her strength of personality,” she continued. “Her calm demeanor and her refusal to get down on herself when things are not going her way have been the determining factors in her continuing success.”
There was a point in the competition Saturday where things did not go Ford’s way, but she lived up to her coach’s faith that she could shake off any problems.
At 5-2, Ford missed two jumps and was down to her last chance. On the third jump, she cleared the bar easily. She missed again at 5-4, just once this time. The three misses were enough that Ford would have lost a tiebreaker in Division II (and did lose a tiebreaker for second overall in the state, settling for fourth). But jumping at 5-5, Ford cleared the bar on her first chance.
“I knew when she took off that it was a good jump,” Herzig said. “Actually, I think she knew before takeoff. She said she knew when she was approaching, that it was going to be a good jump. She just put everything together.”
Middleburgh’s Amanda Roney was Ford’s last rival in Division II (school enrollments of 600 or fewer) and she could not clear 5-5, giving Ford the state title she dreamed about.
Ford is the last athlete to compete as a Cooperstown Redskin. The nickname will be retired on June 30 in favor of CCS Hawkeyes. For supporters of the Redskins, Ford has given them a gift in the form of a final piece of history: The last Cooperstown Redskin is a state champ. Next year, Ford will return to see if she can win a state title as a CC Hawkeye.
We won’t bet against this amazing young woman winning another state title. Congratulations to Ford, to Herzig, and to the CCS track and field program. Thanks for bringing home a state title to Cooperstown and for its Redskins.