New Castle’s Maria Owens turns triple jump frustration into PIAA long jump gold

Sunday, May 29, 2022 | 1:49 AM

SHIPPENSBURG — New Castle senior Maria Owens was upset with herself a day earlier after a 17th-place finish in the triple jump, disappointed largely by a foul on a big jump.

“I couldn’t get over it,” she said.

But eventually she decided to take that mistake, turn it into motivation and try to win the state long jump title Saturday afternoon. It worked perfectly for Owens, who jumped 18 feet, 10¼ inches into the sand at Seth Grove Stadium to win the girls long jump title at the PIAA Class 3A championship.

“I took that fuel and I put it on long jump,” she said.

The distance was a personal-best and more than a foot longer than her winning mark last week at the WPIAL championship. Her previous best was 18-6¾ last spring.

Statistically, Owens wasn’t the state favorite. She was seeded 11th in the 25-person field, but still was convinced she could do more than contend.

“I wasn’t really as nervous, because I know that everyone is not going to jump their best,” she said. “So, I knew I could do it.”

Owens started slow, jumped 17-2¼ on her first attempt and fouled on her second. Top-seeded jumper Shannon Mullin of State College took the lead with a leap of 18-9¼ on her second attempt.

But Owens cleared 18 feet on her third attempt and later landed the winning jump on her second try in the finals.

Three of her six jumps were longer than 18 feet.

As a junior, she was seeded first in the long jump and finished third. She placed 21st in the high jump and 13th in the triple jump a year ago. This time, Owens won the long jump and placed fourth in high jump after clearing 5 feet, 4 inches, giving her two PIAA medals.

“I’m proud of myself,” she said. “I knew I could do this. It’s my last year, so I knew I had to show myself.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at


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