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With triple jump central to her focus, Perk Valley’s Warren reached new heights, earns AOY honors

She picked a most appropriate role model.

At a young age, Christina Warren got taken with the exploits of Allyson Felix. The United States’ 200-meter gold-medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Felix was also a world champion (2015) and Olympic silver medalist (2016) in the 400 meters.

“Since I was eight,” Warren said about the origin of her interest in track and field. “My mom told me when I was little, I saw Allyson Felix on television and said I want to do that.”

Warren is becoming a champion in her own right. The Perkiomen Valley sophomore capped a memorable 2017 spring season by winning the PIAA’s Class AAA triple jump, another state-level medal in the 100-meter hurdles … and The Mercury’s designation as female Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

From her first days as a member of the Ambler Olympic Club, Warren flashed championship style. An AAU Mid-Atlantic champion in the hurdles and long jump, she added the triple jump as a focus during her ninth-grade year.

Of her three events, the triple jump was the only one in which she made a gold-medal run at all stops throughout the recent post-season. Warren was consistently at the high end of the 39-foot mark, going 39-8 1/4 at the Pioneer Athletic Conference meet, 39-9 1/2 in the District 1 Class AAA competition and 39-9 3/4 at states.

Perkiomen Valley’s Christina Warren hits the pit while competing in the triple jump Friday at the PAC Track & Field Championships. Warren won the event and set a meet record. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“Speed and power,” Ron Livers, a member of PV’s coaching staff who’s worked closely with her, said in describing Warren. “I knew she’d be able to pick it (TJ) up, and she did.”

Her progression in the event hit a particularly high note earlier in the year. Competing in the Ocean Breeze Invitational Jan. 28-29 at Staten Island, N.Y., Warren topped the 40-foot mark with a career-best 40-foot, four-inch jump.

“My coaches, mom and aunt were all screaming when I did it,” Warren recalled.

She also distinguished herself at the Penn Relays the last week in April. A 39-8 3/4 jump — one headed only by three competitors from Jamaica — earned Warren a special watch as the best American in the event.

“She always had the potential,” PV head coach Joe Petsko noted. “In her first meet her freshman year, her (triple) jump put her in the Top 20.”

Warren was literally the “gold standard” of the PAC, winning the 100 hurdles (14.6) and long jump (18-10 1/4) in addition to the triple. She also claimed a silver medal in the 300 intermediate hurdles, her 46.31 topped by the 45.62 of Methacton’s Amy Domenick.

“Since she was a seventh grader at Perkiomen Valley West (Middle School), she showed exceptional talent,” Livers recalled. “I said to her, ‘I can’t wait until you get here (high school).’”

“Coming out of the gate, she showed potential,” Petsko added. “And she works hard.”

At districts, Warren came away second in the 100 hurdles (14:42) to Cheltenham’s Chanel Brissett, and third in the long jump (18-0 1/4). A 14.36 run scored her fourth place at states, where she ended up 19th in the long jump at the same distance she cleared one week earlier.

“I expected to win the hurdles, but I flinched in the blocks in the finals,” Christina recalled. “But I ran 14.3, and I’m happy with that.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Christina Warren is the 2017 Mercury All-Area Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Off a freshman year during which she was a sixth-place state medalist in the 100 hurdles — 14th in the triple jump — Warren was ecstatic about getting to Shippensburg University. But as for making the big leap all the way to the top of the medal podium …

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure,” she said. “I jumped 40 feet at Ocean Breeze, the first time I did that.

“To improve, that was my goal. I came in with the knowledge it was within reach.”

One piece of advice from Livers proved key to Warren jumping almost one foot farther than silver medalist Madison Langley-Walker of Upper Dublin, who went 38-10 3/4 in the finals.

“A head wind made it harder,” she recalled. “Coach Ron told me to wait for the wind to die down before I made my jump.”

Adjustment of technique is a priority for Warren. That played a big part in her ability to triple-jump in the 40s.

“I got to 40 feet by putting my arms straight over my head in the third phase,” she recalled. “In the hurdles, it was the takeoffs, lead and trail legs … trying to get over clean.

“I spent more time on the triple jump because it needed the most refinement. This summer, I will be working on the long jump.”

Along the way, Christina has maintained an even keel in response to her success. It’s reminiscent of Felix, a devout Christian who once cited “my faith” as the reason she runs.

“She’s so humble,” Livers said about Warren. “I admire that about her. She takes everything in stride, appreciates everything about her.”

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