Jefferson senior Carrie Wasdyke has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Wasdyke, a shot putter and discus thrower, finally received the official packet in the mail while she was at a track meet on April 17. But her dream of serving the country began in seventh grade, when Wasdyke attended her cousin Isaac Melnick’s Reception Day at West Point.
“Ever since then, it was someplace I wanted to go,” said Wasdyke, who also applied to the University of Pennsylvania. “It was so hard to get in. I got a recruiting letter and thought, ‘That’s my way.'”
The actual process started during her junior year, with a candidate questionnaire. Only after that was approved did Wasdyke receive a password for West Point’s application site.
And that’s no ordinary application, either.
“When she first told me, I said, ‘Are you sure about this?’ ” Falcons throws coach Chris Eastman said. “I can’t be prouder of that decision. … This is way bigger than a commitment to a track program or to a school. She made a commitment to her country.”
Wasdyke submitted grades and recommendation letters just like everyone else, and got her guidance counselor at Jefferson to approve the accuracy of every aspect of her application, even the extracurricular activities. Wasdyke also had to pass a fitness assessment, which included a timed mile, pushups, situps, pullups and a shuttle run. She also had to get medically qualified, but “as a thrower with compact muscle who can lift as much as a football player,” Wasdyke didn’t fit the Army’s height and weight requirements. Instead, she had to get a body-mass index test done.
Wasdyke was one of just 50 students to receive a nomination from the West Point superintendent.
She placed sixth in the Championship of America shot put at Penn Relays on Thursday with a season-best 42-11.75, and received congratulations from her future Army teammates and throws coach Knut Hjeltnes. 2nd Lt. Melnick graduated last spring, and is now at the U.S. Army’s Ranger School.
“It’s emotionally hard, physically hard and academically hard,” said Wasdyke, who holds the Jefferson shot put (43-9) and discus (119-10) records. “Everything you do there is going to be hard.”
Checking out the county
After a month of nothing but relay invitationals every weekend, Morris County opponents have had a good opportunity to size each other up.
Randolph boys coach Luke Suttile did a lot of planning at the Morris Hills Relays, when his team placed second to Mendham by two points. The Minutemen have won all three invitationals they’ve entered so far this spring — Summit, Dodgertown and Morris Hills — and their 4×400 has the fastest time in the Daily Record area, 3:22.41 from the Penn Relays.
The Rams led the way at their own meet on Saturday, with the Mount Olive boys coming on strong. Boonton’s jumpers were also able to assert themselves.
Mount Olive and Mendham look like top contenders on the girls’ side as well, with track insiders keeping a particularly close eye on Marauders junior Keturah Orji. Orji seems poised for a personal best in the triple jump after tying for second at the Penn Relays Championship of America — and she already broke her own Morris County record in the long jump at Morris Hills on April 20.
Everyone will finally face off at the Morris County Relays at Morris Knolls on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
What’s in a name?
Have you met Frankie Perna? The diminutive Morris Hills freshman distance runner has been making quite a name for herself already.
A former softball player, Perna was part of the Rockaway Boro Parks and Recreation dept.’s track team. But moving to the high school squad has been “really different, a lot more talent.” Perna also finally got to run the 3,200, which was longer than the rec program allowed. She has found her place with the Scarlet Knights’ 4×800, alongside seniors Ailis Clyne and Krissa Polimeni.
“It was nerve-wracking at the beginning, but I was really excited,” said Perna, who was named after her father, Frank, and is the eldest of four girls, Maddison, 11; Charlee, 5; and 2-year-old Billie. “I like it actually. It fits me well. I never really liked girl stuff, like wearing dresses. I always played sports. I’ve always been a tomboy.”