O’Malley gives track best shot

Montoursville junior Lauren O’Malley doesn’t take a break from high school athletics. She plays soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and for the past two years, she was a starter for Montours­ville’s softball team. But after the basketball season this past year wrapped up with one of the best seasons in program history, O’Mal­ley decided she wasn’t going to go out again for softball.

But being a competitive person, she wasn’t going to just take the spring off. So she decided to give track and field a shot for the first time.

Given how well her sister Kirsten was at track and field, you can say genes played a factor in why Lauren decided to compete in track and field.

“I mean Kirsten’s obviously my sister and she’s doing pretty well in track and did well in high school so I thought I’d try it out because I don’t like not doing anything,” O’Malley said. “Thought I’d give it a whirl.”

And for not stepping on a high school track prior to this year, O’Malley’s doing well.

On Thursday, O’Malley competed in her first district track and field championship at Williamsport High School, and while she didn’t win gold in the long jump or hit a state qualifing standard distance, she did make it to the finals of the long jump. For O’Mal­ley, that in itself was a goal she was hoping to accomplish.

“It was basically get to the finals or else I would have been disappointed,” O’Malley said. “I wanted to get to states, but maybe next year.”

After jumping a best of 16 feet, 4 3/4 inches in the preliminaries on Thursday, O’Malley advanced to the finals where she took home a seventh-place finish with that leap. Her jump was also a new PR, surpassing her former best mark of almost four inches. In the finals, O’Malley’s best jump in three attempts was 16-2 1/4.

The Montoursville junior is a three-event athlete, competing in the long jump, triple jump and is part of Montoursville’s 1,600 relay team. O’Malley did qualify for the 400 race, but ended up scratching out of the event.

O’Malley strives to continue to improve, and having a sister like Kirsten — a former district champion and state medalist — give her some pointers and advice is more than beneficial. Especially given that Kirsten is going to be competing for Bloomsburg Uni­versity at the NCAA Division 2 Outdoor Champ­ion­ships next week.

Kirsten was at Wil­liamsport on Thursday to watch her sister compete in the long jump, standing next to the runway and intently watching each of Lauren’s jumps. According to Lauren, Kirsten usually is at her own meets on the weekends and doesn’t get a chance to watch her compete.

“Every time I come home I try to give her any pointer I can. I love watching her, it’s so exciting and she’s doing so well for her first year,” Kirsten O’Malley said. “She has so much potential to tap into next year.”

“I mean I know she’s capable of it, but I think she’s surprised at herself a lot of the time, but she should be really proud of season she’s had so far,” O’Malley added. “For first year, she’s killed it.”

Today, Lauren O’Malley is the second leg of the Warriors’ 1,600 relay team alongside Caroline King, Kaylie Schans and Kayla Trimble. In the triple jump, O’Malley’s best jump this year was 33-7 1/2, less than two feet from Mont­gom­ery’s Jessica Ump­stead, who has the area’s best jump of 35-2 1/2.

Both the triple jump and 1,600 relay are scheduled for today and O’Malley will look to get on the podium stand.

Perhaps it’s no surprise either that O’Malley competes in the same two events that her sister does in the long and triple jumps. Kirsten broke the school record in the triple jump her senior year in Athens at districts with a leap of 37-10 1/2.

“I just think we’re built the same way so obviously it’ll be in my best interest to try those events. Like I can’t do long distances. It’s just kind of like coincidence that we’re in same events,” Lauren O’Malley said.

O’Malley still has an entire year to improve on her jumps and technique to try to win gold in 2018. But for Kirsten, she wants her sister to do more than simply well for the track and field team, she wants her to break her records.

“I love it because I want her to beat all my jumps from high school and my records,” Kirsten O’Malley said.