Franklin Regional’s Huczko tries ‘something new,’ wins WPIAL pole vault title

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Friday, May 17, 2019 | 8:03 PM


Winning the WPIAL Class AAA pole vault title was the furthest thing on Jo-Michelle Huczko’s mind when she decided to compete on the track and field team this spring at Franklin Regional.

“I was looking for something fun to do, so I decided to give track a shot,” Huczko said. “It looked a lot of fun, and I wanted to try something new.”

So when Huczko qualified for the WPIAL championships, she was hoping to do her best.

The junior did better than that; she won the title after clearing 11 feet. Her best mark this season is 11-2, and she was hoping for 11-6.

“I’m a little disappointed because I wanted to break my best,” Huczko said. “But I have a strained muscle in my stomach, and it slowed me down. I wasn’t feeling too great.”

Huczko participated in gymnastics for nine years, but she quit and wanted to try a different sport. She’s also a skier.

“At the beginning of the season, the alumni puts together a thing, and the athletes go around to different stations and they try different sports,” Franklin Regional coach Bob Ralston said. “We look for that hidden gem, and we found one.”

After a week and a half of pole vaulting, Huczko said she knew this was the event for her.

“I told myself that this was good,” Huczko said. “It turned out pretty well.

“Winning the title is very awesome. My goal was to qualify for states. Now my goal is to medal. This will be all new to me.”

She will compete Friday and Saturday at the PIAA championship meet in Shippensburg.

Ralston said Huczko probably doesn’t realize what she did is pretty special.

“Not only was she a gymnast, she also does Parkour,” Ralston said. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think we’d have a pole vault champion.”

And Ralston expects bigger things from her next year. He said she plans on going to some camps in the summer to hone her newfound craft.

Huczko said the injury occurred before the Pine-Richland Invitational. It got worse because she continued to jump at Pine-Richland instead of stopping.

She took time off and the prepared for the championship.

“It flared up again, but I was able to fight through it,” Huczko said.

Huczko will have company at Shippensburg.

Rayne Todero placed second in the triple jump with a leap of 36-5¼.

Others earning medals but failing to meet the state qualifying standards were: Jacob Hnath in the 800, Mason Fishell in the high jump, Jaden Seman in the pole vault and Shelby Cooper in the pole vault.

Hnath placed eighth with a time of 1:57.07. He needed to run 1:57. Fishell jumped 6-1 and needed to clear 6-5. Seman jumped 12-9 and needed to clear 14-3, and Cooper jumped 10 feet and needed to clear 11-6.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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