The Abington Heights junior competed with a heavy heart at the 62nd Jordan Relays. Earlier in the day, she attended the funeral for her grandfather, Bob Sulzbach. However, she never thought about not running and wound up helping the Lady Comets capture the Class 3A team championship with 54 points. It was their first title since 2012.
Dammer ran on three winning relays — the distance medley, 3200 meters and 1600-meter medley — as well as the second-place 1600-meter relay team.
She talks about the emotions of the day, as well as the upcoming postseason, in AOW Extra:
How tough was it to run after your grandfather’s funeral earlier in the day? It was tough. It goes even beyond that day. The week before I knew he wasn’t doing well and how my mom was spending a lot of time in New Jersey with him the past two weeks. Also last week I had Penn Relays and my birthday. So the last 10 days had been such a frenzy. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to put it together on Jordans night. But my team, my coaches and my family were all so supportive.
Did you think about sitting out the Jordans? I can’t say that I did. Especially with Jordans, this one was important for me not to miss. My family understood how important it was for me not too miss. This isn’t for the glory of me. It’s for the team and the team coming together and getting the momentum going for the next couple of weeks. And, it’s so much fun.
The team won the opening event, the distance medley relay. How much momentum did that give you? Personally, it really got me excited. I had my grandfather’s funeral that morning and I was kind of nervous about whether I was going to be able to put this together. I was in four events, how am I going to be able to handle this? So to do what I was able to do in that DMR made me really excited for the rest of the night. And I think the excitement of winning that event got the other girls excited as well.
Is there one relay at Jordans you enjoy more than the others? I really like the 1600 medley because it is a blend between the sprints and distance. I like how it brings the team together in practice in the days leading up to it. We’re working together for the first time all year in the exact same event.
What did it mean to you to win the overall team title? This year we’ve had a lot of success and a lot of learning experiences because we have a lot of younger girls who are doing well. The older girls have been trying to get the message across to the younger girls that they can be just as much of an impact. So I think this first postseason meet was a great way to put that into their heads concretely; that they’re going to have to work hard these next couple weeks, but they’re more than capable of doing it.
Last year heading to states, you were a little bit of an unknown. Now everyone knows who you are and what you can do. How do you adjust to that? I remember last year at states, my family was standing there watching my event and my dad overheard someone say, ‘That tall guy up toward the front, I heard she’s from up north.’ Nobody knew who I was. We joke about it now, that I’m just that tall girl from up north. But I’m trying hard to go in with the same approach as last year. I like knowing who’s out there because it motivates me and keeps me grounded. At the same time, I’m looking forward to the actual races in the postseason. Go in, have fun, be confident and whatever happens, happens.
It must be pretty cool, though, to think that some girl in another part of the state is thinking, ‘I’ve got to worry about that Dammer girl!’ It’s weird and it’s fun. With all the online stuff, there are so many girls and we follow each other on Instagram and have been to meets together. When we see each other at invitationals, we’re genuinely happy to see each other and there’s a lot of girls I genuinely enjoy racing. That’s been really fun over the past couple of years to make those relationships.
Post-graduation plans: I’m excited about the opportunity to run in college. I’m not sure where I’m going to go yet, but I’m excited to pursue running at the college level. I think I’m going to like that a lot. It’s such a big part of my life and I don’t want to let it go. And I want to study biology or neuroscience.