She was the first.

Among what is now an impressive display of PIAA state champions at the Brookville Area High School gymnasium — now standing at 24 — is a banner in the gymnasium and picture hanging from the lobby of Barb Reinard.

Brookville’s first state champion.

Now entering her 23rd year this fall at Penn State DuBois serving as the Program Co-ordinator of the school’s Physical Therapist Assistant program and residing in Homer City, Reinard fondly looked back at what was an outstanding career as a Lady Raiders student-athlete.

A multi-sport athlete, Reinard finished her basketball career with over 500 points and 500 rebounds and was the second-leading scorer on the Lady Raiders’ first D9 title team that went 21-2 her senior year in 1981.

But later that spring of 1981, Reinard capped off her high school days with a state championship, winning the PIAA Class 2A high jump title after clearing 5 feet, 6 inches. However, that wasn’t her best height that year. Her school-record jump of 5 feet, 8 inches came at the McConellsburg Invitational in April.

It’s believed that the 5-8 mark has only been equaled once by any D9 jumper — Bradford’s Erin Hannon in 2006 — and her Lady Raiders’ record was good enough to be on the Brookville boys’ top-10 honor roll for 13 years until it would’ve been bumped off in 1994.

In total, Reinard won five D9 titles — two in high jump and three others in relays — and qualified for the state meet in 10 events over her four years on the track. She graduated owning or being part of the program record in five events — high jump, 200-meter dash, both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays and javelin. She held the 200 record for 22 years, the combined javelin mark for 16 years and is on the 4x400 relay that’s No. 4 on the honor roll.

“Barb was a good kid and a part of group of four or five really good athletes and good kids too,” said her former coach Jim Frontino. “I think the group had as much to do as she did.”

Reinard totally agreed.

“I had these friends who were like-minded and we didn’t get into trouble because we were too busy having fun,” she said. “There might have been a certain amount of accountability there and we just had a good time and pushed and challenged each other. To me, that was as much a part of my success as anything.

“And I attribute a lot of my success to Jim, too, because he challenged us in practice in ways that maybe some coaches didn’t.”

LEARNING A NEW EVENT — After helping the 4x400 relay to a state berth after a runner-up finish in 1978 as a freshman with Carol Turner, Lisa Thompson and Lori Lauffer, Reinard was introduced to the high jump early her sophomore year.

“I think it was a Saturday morning and Jim had us come in and try every event,” Reinard said. “I don’t think I jumped at all as a freshman and it was one of those crazy things. Judy Harding and I were messing around, someone brought fudge and we were having a blast. Jim came over and I jumped 5 foot, 3 inches and he said I tied the school record and I was done and we’ll start working on this. It was just crazy.”

“She kept going up and up and that was a pretty big surprise,” Frontino remembered. “The thing with Barb was that she was so consistent and she was a good combination of a speed and power jumper. She was a good thrower, sprinter and a relayer. But when she started jumping, she didn’t mind. She was real coachable and is just helped so much that she had a great peer group.”

By the postseason, Reinard was a state contender. She officially broke the school record by clearing 5 feet, 3 inches and qualified for states with a runner-up finish behind Elk County Catholic’s three-time D9 champion Laura Lynch who cleared 5 feet, 6 inches, a meet record that has held up since then, although it was tied twice in 2018 and 2019 by another ECC jumper Taylor Newton, who won the state title in 2019. She also ran a leg on the first-place 4x400 relay with Janet Grottenthaler, Lauffer and Harding and the runner-up 4x100 relay with Glenda Powell, Carol Shields and Maxine Bush.

At states, Lynch tied for fourth and Reinard did not place.

As a junior in 1980, Reinard beat Lynch at districts, clearing 5 feet, 4 inches. Reinard also helped win the 4x400 relay with Harding, Grottenthaler and Lauffer. She also qualified for states on the runner-up 4x100 relay with Powell, Grottenthaler and Shields while finishing third in the 200 dash.

Claiming her first state medal, Reinard was one of four jumpers to clear 5 feet, 4 inches but had the fewest misses of the group and earned fourth place behind champion Candy Cashall of Unionville (5 feet, 9 inches), Colleen Hammond of Wellsboro (5 feet, 6 inches) and Dawn Newman of Tulpehocken (5 feet, 5 inches).

JUMPING UP THE PODIUM — While state medals were always a goal, winning a state title wasn’t something that was expected. The high jump is a tricky event, dependent on many variables including weather and with Reinard running all over the complex at meets to compete in other events — something that you rarely see from a high jumping medal contender these days — gold medal plans weren’t on the bulletin board. But a plan was.

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“I went to listen to a coach Art Harrington, who was a head coach in southeast Pennsylvania somewhere and he had two or three state champs and I went to a clinic to listen to him, so we developed a plan as far as how to train and what to work on,” Frontino said. “High jumping isn’t an event you practice a whole lot every day. Barb knew how to make adjustments and was an expert in the field as well and I’m sure Coach (Dan) Murdock helped us as well, so it was more of a team effort.”

Reinard said that an equipment upgrade was a huge key to dealing with slippery conditions.

“I give Jim credit. He arranged somehow to get me a jumping shoe for the left foot,” Reinard said. “I was just using my regular spikes, but that show had spikes on the heel, so you don’t slip on the plant foot. It really did make a big difference.”

Reinard set the tone in April, breaking her own school record after clearing 5 feet, 5 3/4 inches in the first meet of the year.

Then a mid-April trip to McConnellsburg, she hit the big one at 5 feet, 8 inches.

Frontino took a small group of kids to the invite, hooking up with a former coach at Brookville in Greg Hays. It was an all-weather track and apron for the high jumpers. The previous year, Reinard broke the school record there with a height of 5 feet, 5 inches.

“I never got to 5-8 again even in college and I think the reason I did it at McConnellsburg was that it was an optical illusion for me,” Reinard said. “They had a really high mat, so the bar didn’t look high at all and it meant a lot for me in how I looked at it.

“And with the events I participated in, I was always running from one thing to another and they were always waiting for me because I threw the javelin and did the relays and it always seemed like I was holding up the meet. But I think i skipped the javelin finals and I had the relays and everyone was waiting for me to finish the high jump, so the whole crew was just hanging out and carrying on and cheering me on. That goes back to the whole thing of support and encouragement from the rest of the people that made it all possible.”

At districts, Reinard didn’t need a huge jump to win, capturing her second straight title after clearing 5 feet. She also ran on the D9 champion 4x100 relay with Becky Hetrick, Grottenthaler and Shields, also qualified for states with the runner-up 4x400 relay that also had Harding, Grottenthaler and Dawn Bailey, and finished third in the 200 dash.

Her winning high jump height didn’t give her a great seeding at the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University, 22nd out of 27 qualifiers. That actually took plenty of pressure off Reinard in her final trip to states.

“I was ranked really, really low, so I guess I didn’t have maybe a lot of high expectations and 5 feet, 9 inches won the title the year before,” Reinard said.

But Reinard was solid as the bar rose and eventually it came down to her, Quaker Valley’s Jenise Lockhart and ELCO’s Sally Keller getting over 5 feet, 6 inches.

“What’s really ironic now is that with the environment of the coaching and friends, and at this point in my life, I’m a perfectionist and probably would’ve been a bundle of nerves and all messed up, but I don’t remember it that way or feeling super-pressured,” Reinard said.

All three jumpers missed all of their attempts at 5 feet, 8 inches. It then reverted back to the less misses tiebreaker and that nod went to Reinard.

“I don’t think I really knew until they announced it, because we were just kind of sitting there waiting and everybody else was outside the fence,” Reinard remembered. “And it was somewhat of a surprise to me and then at that point I was overwhelmed with emotion and remember motioning to my mom and dad and everyone that I got first.”

POST HIGH SCHOOL — Reinard headed to Indiana University of Pa. and had a strong freshman year on the track and field team in the spring of 1982 before realizing that her studies and financial situation didn’t allow for the demands of being a college athlete.

But, Reinard made a big impact in the heptathlon. She qualified for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (predecessor to NCAA for women) Division II Championships after placing second in the AIAW Eastern Regional at Towson State College in Maryland. She racked up 4,755 points in competing in the high jump, javelin, shot put, long jump, 100 hurdles, 200 dash and 800 run.

At Austin Peay University in Tennessee at Nationals, she finished 10th and didn’t match her regional score in what would be IUP’s team record for nearly 25 years. A slip on the wet track in the hurdles cost her a chance at a higher finish.

It was a disappointing end to a successful track and field career for Reinard, who transferred to Clarion University to finish her bachelor’s degree in biology.

“The heptathlon was a lot of work, I had a disappointing finish at nationals and there was the realization that track wasn’t going to pay the bills, that all played a part,” Reinard remembered. “And I only got a $300 scholarship.”

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