S. Jersey Girls | Mary Wilks, Bridgeton

Posted: June 27, 2007

Like a permanent shadow, the label followed Mary Wilks from birth, drawing attention with each athletic endeavor.

She was always recognized as the youngest of Edward and Cynthia Wilks' seven children, arguably the most athletic family in South Jersey.

The constant comparisons to her siblings bothered the recent Bridgeton graduate a bit. She wanted her own identity.

"That kind of annoyed me, being confused for my sisters," Wilks said. "Some people called me Cyndy. People called me Helen by mistake.

"I like to think that people were like, 'You have to live up to their expectations.' That kind of gave me more push."

The comparisons pushed Wilks to becoming The Inquirer's South Jersey senior girls' athlete of year.

Wilks, 18, already has a full scholarship to play soccer and participate in track and field at Monmouth University.

At Bridgeton, Wilks was a dominant force in three sports. Averaging 13 points and finishing with 62 assists during the 2006-07 season, she led the Bridgeton basketball team to the second round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 playoffs.

In soccer, Wilks, a proven scorer, lined up mostly as a defender last season to help her team. And she still managed to score 10 goals.

Last month, Wilks threw the javelin 135 feet, 10 inches - the state's second-best effort regardless of classification - to win the event at the Group 2 state meet. She placed first at the South Jersey Group 2 meet and finished sixth at the Meet of Champions.

While Wilks isn't the first member of her family to earn an athletic college scholarship, she'll be the first one to play multiple sports in college.

Helen, a 1993 Bridgeton graduate, ran track at Ohio State. Brother Ray, a 1996 Bridgeton graduate, ran track at Connecticut, and Cyndy, a 2000 Bridgeton graduate, played basketball at Virginia Commonwealth.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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