Cherokee's Woodard taking aim at Penn Relays

Jess Woodard, a University of Oklahoma recruit, is a two-time winner of the New Jersey Meet of Champions in the discus and took the Group 4 state title in both the discus and shot put as a sophomore and junior.
Jess Woodard, a University of Oklahoma recruit, is a two-time winner of the New Jersey Meet of Champions in the discus and took the Group 4 state title in both the discus and shot put as a sophomore and junior.
Posted: April 24, 2013

Jess Woodard is one of the most accomplished weight throwers in state history.

But the Cherokee senior wants to add to her resumé with a strong performance at the Penn Relays.

"I'm kind of out for vengeance," Woodard said of her approach to the 119th annual Penn Relays Track and Field Carnival, which will start Thursday at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania campus. "I didn't have a good meet there last year."

Woodard, a University of Oklahoma recruit, is a two-time winner of the New Jersey Meet of Champions in the discus. She won the Group 4 state title in both the discus and shot put as a sophomore and junior. She won a national title in the shot put at last June's New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

But Woodard recalls a "bad day" at the Penn Relays last April.

"I only had one legal throw," said Woodard, who finished ninth in the discus at the Penn Relays last season with an effort of 126 feet, 7 inches. "It was just a bad day in terms of my technique."

Woodard is the No. 2 seed in this year's high school discus, which will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday. The No. 1 seed is Tara-Sue Barnett of Edwin Allen High School in Clarendon, Jamaica.

Woodard is coming off a victory in the discus Saturday at the Woodbury Relays. She threw 149-7.

"Having a good day Saturday is great for me," Woodard said. "It gives me a lot of confidence in how I've been throwing this early in the season."

Barnett was third in last year's Penn Relays with a throw of 162-1. Woodard threw 151-10 to win the Meet of Champions last season. That was the second-longest throw in New Jersey history.

Woodard also threw 164-0 at the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston last summer.

Woodard regards the Penn Relays as one of the top venues in the sport.

"It's so big, and it's so close by," Woodard said. "It's an honor to be able to compete in it."

Woodard said Oklahoma usually doesn't send a team to compete at the Penn Relays, so this weekend likely will be her last chance to make her mark at the historic event.

"This probably will be my last Penn Relays ever," Woodard said. "To win the Penn Relays would be awesome. If I can leave my mark, that would mean so much to me."


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/

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