Rancocas Valley’s Bethany Biggi not only became the first South Jersey girl in 32 years to win the Easterns high jump, she not only set a lifetime PR of 5-6, she beat a national champion along the way.
Biggi, a Rancocas Valley senior, recorded the first major invitational win of her track career Tuesday night, clearing 5-6 for the first time indoors or out to win the Easterns high jump at the Armory.
Biggi had only cleared 5-4 twice before her huge breakthrough in New York.
She cleared opening height of 5-0 and also 5-2 on her first attempt, 5-4 on her second and 5-6 on her second before missing three attempts at 5-8.
Amy Arirguzoh of the Lawrenceville School and Abrianna Barrett of Montgomery High also cleared 5-6 but both did it on their third attempt, so Biggi got the win based on clearing the winning height on fewer attempts. Arirguzoh made 5-4 on her first attempt, so she was in the lead when the bar went up to 5-6.
Biggi is the first South Jersey girl to win at Easterns since Erin Halpin of Cherry Hill West cleared 5-6 in 1987.
Biggi’s clearance is the best by an R.V. girl indoors since Tonya Lee cleared 5-7 1/4 in 1988. Lee went on reach the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials final in the 400-meter hurdles. Lee cleared 5-8 outdoors in 1987.
As for the national champion, that was Rutherford junior Jenna Rogers, who cleared 6-0 3/4 in June to win the New Balance National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Rogers had never lost an indoor high jump competition to a New Jersey girl before Tuesday. She finished fourth at Easterns at 5-4.
Biggi is the third R.V. girl to win an Easterns title. Lee won the long jump at 18-4 3/4 in 1987 and Aliyah Taylor ran 55.21 to win the 400 in 2017. The boys won the 800-meter relay in 2017 in 1:29.29.
Dave Bannar came close in 1976, when he ran 7.2 hand-timed in the high hurdles, finishing 1-10th of a second behind Paul Snipes of Essex Catholic.