NEW CASTLE —
What happens when you’ve beaten everybody else?
You look for ways to beat yourself.
As the WPIAL track and field season progressed for Ellwood City Lincoln High, it was clear that Angela McCowin was running a race of her own in Section 1-AA.
McCowin went undefeated in her individual dual meet events in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump. Those who watched her not only expected McCowin to win, they expected her to outdo herself and break her own records.
“I think I did well this year. I was really excited to be undefeated. I broke my record a couple of times for the 100 and 300 hurdles, so I was really excited about that,” she said. “Every meet I kept bringing my times down. Next week at the WPIAL qualifier, I hope to do well and just keep running my best and make it good enough to go to state. I think that was such a fun experience last year. I want to make it again.”
If last week was any indication, family and friends better remember the date — May 24 —and start packing for Seth Grove Stadium in Shippensburg — the site of this year’s state competition. In fact, McCowin’s season-long effort and impressive showing last week was so good, it earned her Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
With section play over, McCowin began last week with a strong performance in the MAC Invitational at Mars High School, earning an impressive four-second victory in the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.1. She followed that up with a close runner-up showing in the 100 hurdles, losing to West Allegheny’s Lauren Costa in a photo finish by a mere 0.01 seconds. McCowin added another second-place nod in the high jump at 5-0.
Things continued to go well in the Tri-County Track and Field Championships on Saturday, an event in which McCowin took track and overall MVP honors last year.
She claimed the 100 hurdles and high jump crowns and also was a member of the winning 400 relay team. However, it was a bittersweet ending in the 300 hurdles for the senior, as she came up short in another tight contest. Mohawk’s Maria Fleck recorded a time of 46.0 — a meet record —to beat McCowin’s time of 46.0-plus. Although she failed to get a meet sweep, her 300 hurdles time served as a personal best.
Along with her 300 hurdles record, McCowin eclipsed her own 100 hurdles time of 16.8 set in her sophomore year, shaving an incredible two seconds off at 14.8.
If her recent losses did anything to McCowin, it would be they motivated her even more. McCowin’s no stranger to overcoming “hurdles” in her life, as a concussion knocked her out of the WPIAL qualifier two seasons ago. It was her drive to achieve that allowed her to bounce back and become the champion she is today.
“She was a work in progress. Last year, coach (Bill) Viccari and coach (Tom) Natale got hold of her and broke her down technique wise,” head coach Al Campman said. “She was a super hard worker and she’s gotten better and better and continues to get better right now. She’ll be a very good college hurdler if she wants to do it. Her work ethic and her intelligence are above average —way above average— and then her height really helps her get through the hurdles.”
McCowin emphasized the importance of her coaches in developing her skills stating, “My coaches have been amazing with training and supporting me the past four years. Mr. Viccari came in and really helped with giving me new drills and workouts to do with hurdles. That helped a lot.”
Standing at a lanky, slender 5-foot-11, her height has benefited McCowin as first-team all-section pick for the Lady Wolverines volleyball team this season and allowed her playing time with the school’s varsity girls basketball team.
“I’ve always been the tall girl. People, since I remember, would say ‘oh, you’re really tall.’ I’ve always heard that,” McCowin said. “My coaches and I both think that since last year I’ve grown. During hurdle warmups like that and walking over them and stretching out, I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me this year. I don’t know if my legs grew or what.”
McCowin’s father, Chris, played basketball at Blackhawk High and her older brother Marcus, 20, also played. Younger sibling Cameron, 14, also is on the track team and Danielle, 10, enjoys soccer, softball and dance. McCowin didn’t put much thought into joining the track team herself, until her mother, Stacey, persuaded her to try it out in seventh grade.
“She said she’d love to watch me run. It’s something that she wished she would have done, so I decided to do it,” McCowin said. “In junior high I mostly did jumping. I did high jump, long jump and sprinting. I didn’t really do hurdles until ninth grade, and that was because my coaches told me that I would be a good hurdler. They wanted me to try it out.”
Not only is McCowin an outstanding athlete, she also is a top-notch student with a 3.9 GPA. She was recently named the Ellwood City Lions Club Student of the Month for April.
That combination of brains and athletic ability landed her a scholarship at Seton Hill University, where she will be a member of the track and field team and study to become an elementary education teacher.
“She’ll be really good at anything she does. She’s athletic enough to go on and be a very good at track in college,” Campman said. “She’s just so academically minded. I know she wants to be an elementary teacher. She’s great with kids. If she went on to college and they put her on a stringent weight program and got her stronger, she can even get that much better. She’s involved in so many sports — volleyball, basketball and track — that she really hasn’t had the time to work on that part of her body — the strength part. So, she does it naturally through the hard work on the track or the hard work on the court. I think that’s why she has unlimited potential because she can get a lot stronger.”
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