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Sam Smith, Jake Platel leap to the challenge

Neither Sam Smith nor Jake Platel thought that they were going to be doing track on their first day of freshman year at Bethlehem Central High School.

But through a fortunate series of events, the two seniors are not only on the track team, but they are also the stars of the team.

My parents made me join the team freshman year says Platel, the state indoor track champion in the pole vault. "How I got into pole vaulting is that it was the only event where you didn't have to run. So, it was just me being lazy again."

"I did the musical in 10th grade," explained Smith. "I was going to go out for the baseball team, and one of my rehearsals conflicted with the tryouts. So I said, 'Man, I am gonna miss a day of tryouts; this stinks. Maybe I'll just try a different sport.' And I went out for track."

Platel and Smith met at a high jump relay in their sophomore year. It was the first time the two would compete together.

"We needed a third high jumper," Platel remembered. "So, they just found the next, biggest, goofiest looking kid on the team after Mike McManus and Sam, and they just decided they would make me do high jump."

Since then, Smith and Platel have trained together, and they admit there is some one-upmanship going on.

"He (Platel) pushes me to train harder so that I can beat him, eventually " and then, maybe beat some other people," said Smith, who won the Section II high jump title this past indoor season.

According to Smith, there are three things that help accelerate one's ability at track and field: "a good work ethic, a person to train with and a good coach."

Besides pushing each other to be better, each of the two track stars sing the others praises.

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