You don’t see many high school track athletes who excel at both the 400 hurdles and high jump.
Brooke Astor did, so Spotswood coach Roland D’Orvilliers encouraged her to branch out and try the long jump and javelin.
That’s when the seeds were planted for an All-America candidate.
Now a senior at Lehigh University, Astor has developed into an elite multi-event performer with an eye toward qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon this spring.
“He (D’Orvilliers) was the one who gave me the push,” Astor said. “Coming in here it was just a natural transition to add two or three more events.”
Natural, however, does not translate into easy. Astor played basketball in high school, so she was brand new to indoor track.
“My freshman year I was the only multi, so it was, ‘See what you can do,’ ” she recalled. “Competing indoors was interesting. Running an 800 with four laps was really uncomfortable for me.”
The learning curve was steep, but Astor gradually figured it out. Last month she was named Patriot League Athlete of the Week after winning the pentathlon at Lehigh’s Fast Times Invitational with a Rauch Fieldhouse record score of 3,450.
“After my freshman year things started lining up,” she said. “I had gained experience, and I had to teach (younger athletes) things. So I was learning and teaching, and I was able to improve because of that.”
The most stubborn event was —and remains — the shot put.
“It’s a different kind of strength you have to use,” she said, citing the technique. “Your athletic ability can only carry you so far.”
Astor won the Patriot League pentathlon as a sophomore and junior and peaked last spring with a second-place finish at the ECAC heptathlon in Princeton, where she broke the school record and bested the 5,000-point mark.
“That was a really big deal,” she said. “To do it in New Jersey was a lot of fun.”
Just last week against Lafayette, Astor set Lehigh’s indoor records in the 60-meter dash (7.80) and 60-meter hurdles (8.58). Her other top marks are 18-3 in the long jump, 5-5 in the high jump, 2:23 in the 800, 39 meters in the javelin (roughly 128 feet), 37-0 in the shot put, 1:03.76 in the 400 hurdles and 25.75 in the 200 dash.
Learning so many disciplines is a ton of work, and that’s not even mentioning the long hours she puts in as an architecture major, sometimes hitting the studio for three-plus hours after her track workouts.
“I’ve always been the last person at practice since high school,” she said. “So I’m used to it.”
Staff writer Jerry Carino: firstname.lastname@example.org