Bucks County Herald

Titanic leap

CB South’s Przekop jumps to state title

DAVID CAMPBELL



CB South’s Valerie Przekop flies through the air for one of her jumps at Penn State. The Titans senior won her second state championship in the high jump on Feb. 25, clearing 5-06.00 on her first try.

One branch separates Valerie Przekop from her inspiration in her family tree.

Mark and Penelope Przekop are perched together one rung above the Central Bucks South senior standout.

“I’m definitely ambitious,” Valerie Przekop said. “I would say both my parents are extremely hard workers. They both came from small towns and then kind of worked their way up in their fields, and I’ve just watched them.

“I have a lot of people in my family who are amazing role models, so I think that that’s kind of where I get it from, and I wanted to be like them.”

Przekop credits her bloodline for keeping her driven and focused – and successful. In late February, the Titan captured her second state championship in the high jump, beating Palisades’ Lydia Bottelier and Easton Area’s Kate Willshaw by tiebreaker at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) Indoor State Championship at Penn State University in State College.

All three girls cleared 5-06.00; however, Przekop passed over the bar successfully on her first attempt, while Bottelier and Willshaw, both sophomores, each needed three tries to clear the winning height. The title was Przekop’s.

“I had an up-and-down season,” Przekop admitted. “I didn’t jump great at all the meets.”

Eight days earlier at the Delaware Valley Girls’ Track Coaches’ Association (DVGTCA) Meet of Champions (MOC) at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Przekop was second at 5-02.00.

She was fourth in the state in indoor track a year ago.

Last May, however, Przekop finally broke through, clearing a personal-best and school-record 5-09.00 to earn state outdoor gold in Class AAA at Shippensburg University and becoming the first Titan to win state gold in the high jump.

“I still have that drive and I still want to win,” Przekop said.

She has even loftier goals for the spring. Sure, she would like to successfully defend her title, but doing so in a leap of 6 feet or higher.
“I think that’s a reachable goal,” Przekop said. “I definitely have the height. It’s kind of just putting everything together and having those jumps feel effortless. They’re the best ones, I guess. So that’s kind of what I’m working towards, and I definitely think I can get it. I just need to focus and stuff.”

CB South jumps coach Justin Crump is eager to see what Przekop does for an encore.

“Val is really looking forward to the spring season, specifically Penn Relays, districts and states,” he said. “At this point, her training will be focused on those opportunities and she is dedicated to making sure she is prepared to compete at her highest level at them. Being a returning state champion is a daunting task and Val has set some aggressive goals for herself to achieve.

“Having already committed to Stanford University, she is now learning how to take full ownership of her performances and her training. With continued dedication, she hopes to keep those bigger meets as her main focus as the season progresses.”

The Cardinal is already getting at least a two-time state champion.

“They definitely had the athletics and academics that I was looking for,” said Przekop, who also considered Harvard, Penn State and West Point and is interested in majoring in economics. “I’m not going to be a high jumper for the rest of my life. What I do after this is extremely important to me; it’s not all about athletics. I felt like Stanford was just the perfect place.”

For the time being, though, Przekop is still wearing the blue and black of the Titans. She started out as a basketball player and, at the time, viewed track “as a side sport.” In 11th grade, she made the switch, even though she had failed to qualify for districts in track her first two years of high school.

“I understand that I surprised a lot of people by improving as much as I did in one year; however, I was able to identify the best sport for me and excel due to fantastic coaching and channeling all of my focus and athletic ability into high jumping,” Przekop said.

Przekop said she gets herself “mad” during a competition to help light a fire under her. She said that “aggression really helps” her succeed in the high jump, that and having role models at home.

“I think that’s really important,” Przekop said, “to have people in your life who are such good examples ... if you don’t, I mean, you can watch TV and see the people on the TV, but if it’s real life, it’s like, ‘Oh wait, that’s possible. I can do that.’ ”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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