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Eck shined for Wildcats in field events

Central Mountain’s Mallory Eck may have one of the greatest comeback stories in Wildcat history.

Eck–who became a District 6 Class AAA individual champion this past season–had an unfortunate start to her record-breaking career. The senior missed her freshman spring sports season as she spent the latter months of her freshman year recovering from an ACL tear. Fast forward to three years later and Eck stood atop the podium with gold around her neck at Altoona’s Mansion Park. One of the more fascinating things about Eck’s accomplishment is that track and field was not her first choice.

“I had been playing softball since I was 4 and I just got burnt out, so I was ready to try something new my junior year. After getting cut short because of COVID, I was chomping at the bit to go this year. I knew I needed to work hard to make up for the lost time and experience that I would’ve gotten last year,” Eck said. “I am very proud of myself for coming so far in such a short time. I was extremely happy to meet my goal of breaking and holding a record at central mountain. More importantly, I am thankful for the people that have helped me get to where I am now. My coaches and teammates have made me a better athlete and I cannot thank them enough for that.”

As the pandemic did not allow Eck and others to compete last spring, she found a unique way to work on her craft during the elongated offseason. Eck’s grandfather, Alan Ferrar, was LHU’s first All-American. Ferrar finished sixth in the country at javelin during his time as a Bald Eagle.

Eck was weary of what was ahead of her and other athletes after school and athletics were shut down. She preserved though and used the wisdom and guidance of her grandfather to set up an iconic season. The pandemic hit at an unfortunate time for a handful of people, but especially Eck. She had to move out of her home after a devastating fire forced her out.

“Like mostly everyone else when quarantine started, I was very scared as I didn’t know what was going to happen from day to day. I mostly spent my time in my new house, as it had just been built after our old house had burned down,” Eck said. “He got me interested in track and helped coach me in the javelin After hearing that we wouldn’t be going back to school, I gave myself a break and didn’t begin practicing again until about February of this year.”

The patience Eck displayed paid off. She was the lone Wildcat to wear gold around her neck at the district meet.

Eck’s shotput heave of 34 feet, 9 1/2 inches in the district championship gave her the first-place finish. Shot put was not the only event Eck shined in as the senior placed second in javelin as she earned a spot at states in that event too.

“I was extremely excited to capture the district title. I knew going in that I was seeded first place, so as long as I did my best, I would have a good chance of winning. I was a bit flustered while I was throwing my first three throws, because I had to move into the first flight so I would be able to throw ‘jav’and have enough time to get back. After the marker had read the off the measurement, I silently cheered to myself and then walked up to throw my final mark,” Eck said. “Standing up on the podium at the very top was something that I’ll never forget. Especially because my teammate Alyssa Yangorder was up there standing right next to me.

Up next for Eck was the PIAA state championship at Shippensburg University.

“My states experience was a little nerve racking, but ultimately a lot of fun. It was just me and my coach Ellie Sikorskas,” Eck said. “I kept looking around at all the athletes that had made it there. I won’t lie, It was a bit intimidating. That intimidation carried with me as I was getting ready for my event. But once we started warming up, I got to talk to some of the other girls and I ended up having a great time. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity.”

Eck finished 18th in shotput at a mark of 34-0.

Despite her illustrious throwing career coming to an end, Eck does not wish to stray away from the Wildcat track and field program.

“I don’t want this to be the end of my journey with CM track and field,” Eck said. “I would definitely like to come back and help out with the future athletes of the program. Some amazing wildcats to look out for specifically in the near future are Alyssa Vangorder, Lily Hendricks, Ashley Rich, Rachel Hall, Anton Stratts, Logan Dawes, Grace Rizzo, Gianna Dressler, and Maddy Bair. I am so thankful to have been a part of the program and its history, I wish the best of luck to the athletes next season.”

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