In addition to his teaching and coaching duties at Robbinsville High School, Mike Walker had one other job to do that probably claimed as much time as either of the other two.
The Ravens cross country/track & field mentor had to compile a list of Noel Jancewicz’s track highlights for Senior Awards Night.
War and Peace probably took less time to write.
“I just can’t believe,” Walker exclaimed, “how long of a list it is for events that she has won at the county, sectional, and state level.”
The condensed version of that list, which wrote its first chapter during the spring season of Noel’s freshman year in 2010, consists of first-place medals as follows:
—Five in Mercer County Championship outdoor meets.
—Four in Mercer County Championship indoor meets.
—Five in Central Jersey Group I or II outdoor meets
—Three in CJ I or II indoor meets.
—Three in NJSIAA Group II outdoor meets
—Three in NJSIAA Group II indoor meets.
—And the grand daddy of them all, the one she waited the longest to get—a gold medal in the high jump at this year’s outdoor Meet of Champions.
That makes for 24 combined gold medals in those four different meets. What’s more impressive is that they came in six different events: the 55, 100, 200 and 400 meters, high jump and long jump. She even had some success in the javelin over the years before moving away from the event.
Jancewicz is also the Mercer County record-holder in the high jump, spring heptathlon and indoor pentathlon.
“She is easily the most versatile athlete I have ever coached in track & field,” said Walker, who has coached the Ravens since their start. “Noel came along right when we were growing and graduating a couple of great athletes and state champions (Megan Flynn and Amber Scott). We didn’t realize at the time how versatile she would become; we just thought we were getting a good sprinter that can really excel at the high jump.
“She turned out to be much more than just a good jumper as you can see from all the events she has won through the years. I think she could have been a state champion in the 800 meters if she picked mid-distance back when she was a freshman. “
It was an incredible run for Jancewicz, and it’s far from over. She had numerous colleges recruiting her, and will compete in the Heptathlon and Pentathlon for the University of Pennsylvania next year. That suits her just fine.
“I do like doing a lot of events,” Jancewicz said. “One, I like it because it helps toward the team total, and my main goal is to always help the team out.
“Also, I like it because it kind of distracts me. When I have one event I overthink it. When I have a lot, I don’t worry about what’s coming up, I just worry about the one I have at that time and focus on that.”
Jancewicz began her track career running the 400 at Pond Road in seventh grade, then moved into the high jump after awhile.
When Jancewicz arrived at Robbinsville in the fall of 2009, her original thought was to play basketball in the winter and move to track in spring. But something told her to stick with track.
“I don’t know why I decided to do winter track, but I did,” she said. “I had no idea what would come out of it when I first came in. I knew from the start it was something I would continue. I just loved it so much, the coaches and my teammates, everyone got along so well.
“The past four years have been much better than I could even imagine. I never thought I’d be a county champ in multiple things, and a sectional or state champion. And I definitely never thought I’d be the Meet of Champs champion. It was definitely more than I could ever ask for. I have to give credit to my coaches. They’ve helped me so much over the years.”
Those coaches thought Jancewicz could be a hurdler as a freshman, but that didn’t last long.
“I was a pretty bad hurdler,” she said with a laugh. “So they decided to put me someplace else.”
How about every place else?
As a freshman she did the high jump and 400, and began doing the 100 near the end of the year. She promptly won the CJ I gold medal in the 100. It was during her sophomore year Jancewicz began to experiment in various other events, including the javelin, long jump and the 200.
The more events she did, the more she won. The obvious questions are: how did she train, and how did she budget her time?
“My coach had me train with the 400 runners,” she said. “He said that helps with speed and endurance and helps me so I can do all these events and also have the speed to do long jump and high jump.
“As for budgeting my time,” she added with a laugh, “I don’t really know. I am at practice a really long time. Some days I’m at practice two hours after everyone else. I’m definitely there for a long time, but I love track so for me it’s fun. A lot of times I’ll do high jump as my last event, and my high jump coach (Jon Hutchinson) will stay with me, and I feel really bad I’m keeping him there.”
Jancewicz has always considered high jump her best event, and the fact 14 of her aforementioned gold medals are in that event will back that up. But the one that eluded her during her first seven seasons of track was a Meet of Champions gold.
This spring was her final chance, and Jancewicz finally got it.
“I’ve gotten so close,” she said. “This year I had a difficult time getting there but I have been training for the Heptathlon for next year, so by doing more events, I didn’t have a chance to work on it as much.”
During the season, Jancewicz could not get over the 5-foot-6 mark, but it was enough for her to win the Group II meet this year. She took three shots at 5-8 and couldn’t make it, but she finally nailed it to win the Meet of Champs.
“There were still three or four girls left after 5-6,” she said. “But I cleared 5-8 on my first attempt, and I cleared it with a decent amount from the bar so that took the pressure off.”
“I might have been more nervous about her jumping at the Meet of Champions than she was when we got to the meet,” Walker said. “It is great to see someone work so hard for so long and finally reap the rewards from that hard work.
“She is talented and has a lot of ability, but she works for hours at her craft and doesn’t take her ability for granted.”
Jancewicz originally thought she would attend college as mostly a high jumper with a few other things thrown in. But after taking fourth place in last summer’s heptathlon at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina with 4,667 points (based on times and distances), Jancewicz drew the eye of college coaches looking for a multi-threat.
“When college coaches saw me, they were all recruiting me for heptathlon,” Jancewicz said. “They all said my score was really good, and they thought I had more potential doing that because I had so much room for improvement in a lot of the events.”
Armed with a 3.7 grade point average, Jancewicz took visits to Penn, Duke and Vanderbilt but was forced to cancel a trip to Brown. It didn’t matter, as she was quickly sold on the Philadelphia-based Ivy League institution.
“Since Penn was so close I figured I’d visit,” Noel said. “I talked to the coaches, loved the athletes, loved the facilities, and it’s obviously a great school academically.”
Jancewicz made her decision in November, thus clearing her mind and making it easier to focus on track.
“I think Noel is going to transition to college competition just fine,” Walker said. “She is in great hands at Penn with their head coach Steve Dolan. Steve was my coach at TCNJ (The College of New Jersey), and he was a two-time Division III Three national champion in the decathlon, so she will only get better as a multi-event athlete under his guidance. I can’t wait to see how far she can go with track and field.”
Jancewicz had one more high school event remaining, as she was scheduled to compete in the high jump, 4×800 and 800 sprint medley at the Nationals in mid-June. Jancewicz lists last year’s fourth-place finish in the Heptathlon and this year’s MOC win as her proudest high school moments.
As for what she will take from her Ravens track career, Jancewicz jokingly feels it might just be a big mouth.
“It helped me with leadership qualities and everything,” she said, adding with a laugh. “My freshman and sophomore years I was pretty quiet, so this helped me branch out with meeting people. I’m definitely more talkative now than I was. Now, my coach says I talk too much.”
Even if she didn’t talk at all, the list that Walker made up for Senior Awards Night would speak volumes.