Paige Kassab is not satisfied.
Well, let’s rephrase that. Paige Kassab, from her perspective as a recent grad, looks back on her four years with the Meadville High track and field team with intense fondness.
“Oh definitely,” she said. “I’m very pleased with it. And it’s great knowing that in my fourth year that I (set personal records) in everything, that I worked my way up to that level. It’s nice to see that I improved.”
But see, that last bit is where a hint of dissatisfaction creeps in. It has something to do with her inner competitiveness. It’s why she is so good at what she does out on the track. And it’s why she is The Meadville Tribune’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the third straight season.
Kassab’s career was, in a word, outstanding. The jumping/hurdling specialist had one of the most decorated high school runs that Meadville has seen in years. We’re talking three state medals, five District 10 titles, and 16 total medals at districts; not to mention a whole mess of dual meet and invitational wins.
“I think she scored over 1,000 points in four years for us,” Meadville head track and field coach Carl Roznowski said. “It was very exciting to have her. She is definitely going to be missed next year.”
Yet, when you talk to Kassab about her accomplishments, she’s polite, but she’s also like, ‘eh.’
“I mean, you will always say that you can do better,” she said. “I have really high expectations for myself. No matter what, every meet I could have done better. It’s not that I take anything for granted. I was lucky enough to get the marks I did get. I’m so pleased with everything. To get medals at states is very rare for anyone.”
She’s talking about this past May, when she took third in the high jump at the PIAA Class AAA Track and Field Championships with a jump of 5-foot-6, and was sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 37-1.25.
Now, that’s two state medals, which is fantastic. But neither of those marks was a personal best. And that’s what seems to be bothering her.
“It’s nice knowing that I didn’t do my best but still got a chance to medal,” she said. “That, I guess, shows how good of an athlete you are and that you can still do better.”
This whole “getting better” kick that Kassab is on seems to have been with her for awhile. But the former swimmer didn’t devote it toward track and field until 8th grade, shortly after moving to town from her previous home in West Virginia.
“Starting off as a freshman, you could see a young girl that had ambitions,” said Roznowski. “She had a good work ethic. And you could tell that there was something special. At an early age it’s sometimes very difficult to notice, but you could see there was something there.”
That became obvious to everyone come the 2009 District 10 meet, where the then-freshman Kassab notched four district medals, including the title in the high jump.
And from there the high bar inched higher, the tape rolled out further across the sand pit, and the times steadily dropped in the hurdles.
Finally, in her senior year she was knocking down some terrific PRs, such as in the high jump (5-7), the 100 hurdles (15.92 seconds), the long jump (17-3.5) and the triple jump (38-3).
Well, as far as Kassab is concerned, there’s always room for improvement.
“That’s what keeps me going,” she said. “Go to a meet, know you could have done better, go to practice the next day and work even harder. It keeps me motivated.”
Kassab has a very good opportunity to keep stepping her game up as she moves on to Slippery Rock University to continue her career in track and field.
“I’m going to be multi,” she said, meaning she’ll be training to compete in the heptathlon. “I’ll be doing seven events at every meet. It’s fun. I’ll have some throwing events to work on, even though I’ve never thrown before.”
“Javelin and shot put, which I’ll have to learn,” she said. “It will be interesting. I’m excited to try something new. I’ll do whatever they want. I’m just glad to have the opportunity.”
Just more things for Kassab to get better at.
“I wish her the best of luck at Slippery Rock,” said Roznowski. “I know she’s not going to disappoint the coaches over there.”
Paige Kassab is not satisfied.
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