Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 23
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
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(Photo courtesy of the Lawrenceville School)

NEW WAVE: Kelly Curtis, center, is all smiles along with her mother, Debbie, and father, John, as she formally committed last week to a track scholarship with Tulane University. Curtis, a former Princeton High basketball and track star, just finished a post-graduate year at the Lawrenceville School where she helped lead the Big Red to the state Prep A girls’ track title. Curtis plans to compete in the heptathlon for the Green Wave.

Curtis Relished PG Year at Lawrenceville, Now Heading South to Tulane Track Team

Bill Alden

Kelly Curtis was the ultimate insider during her athletic career at Princeton High.

As the daughter of former PHS athletics director John Curtis and the younger sister of Little Tiger football and basketball star Jay Curtis, the youngest Curtis was a known quantity before she walked in the door in 2003 to begin high school.

The versatile Curtis did her family name proud during her PHS career, starring as high-scoring guard on the basketball team during the winters and sprinting, leaping, and throwing her way to success for the Little Tiger track team in the springs.

This past fall, though, Curtis found herself in the position of an outsider when she opted to do a post-graduate year at the Lawrenceville School at the urging of her parents.

“It was weird being the new person,” said Curtis, who lived at home and was the only PG day student at the school.

“I was used to giving the tours, now I was taking the tours. The academics were set up in a totally different way.”

Curtis’ athletic talents helped her acclimate to her new surroundings. She joined the basketball team and made an immediate impact before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in mid-January. Working hard to rehab her injury, Curtis emerged as a dominant figure for the Big Red track team.

Excelling at the high jump, javelin, triple jump, long jump, and 100-meter hurdles, Curtis helped lead Lawrenceville to the Prep A title.

Earlier this month she culminated her Lawrenceville experience by signing a letter of intent to attend Tulane University where she plans to compete in track.

In reflecting on her superb track campaign, Curtis said she was chomping at the bit to get into action after her basketball injury.

“I couldn’t wait for track to start; I was counting the days,” recalled Curtis.

“I had a meeting with Coach [Bill] Schroeder last year after I decided to come to the school. He told me that we had a lot of seniors and that we would be a good team. He saw me as a big part of that; I was ready for that.”

Curtis didn’t waste any time contributing as she came up big in the season’s first event, the Prep relays.

“I tied the high jump record at that meet,” recalled Curtis. “That told me that my ankle was back.”

That performance was a harbinger of things to come as Curtis quickly acclimated herself to prep competition.

“The competition was pretty much the same; everyone is still in high school and evolving,” said Curtis.

“I was pleased at how well the girls on the team worked together; there was a real camaraderie.”

Curtis’ team spirit came through at the state Prep A meet where she won the long jump (16’5 1/2), high jump (5’2), triple jump (36’5), and took second in the javelin (103’4) to help lead the Big Red to the title.

“I didn’t perform that well in the high jump or the long jump even though I won,” said Curtis, reflecting on her performance at the Prep A meet.

“I came out for the triple jump and set a school record; that was a good way to end things.”

The Lawrenceville program recognized all the things Curtis did for the team as she won the Dean A. Smith ’56 Track and Field Prize along with Leonard Hayes which is given annually to honor the Big Red’s most talented track and field athletes.

“I felt kind of guilty as the PG coming in and getting that but I know I earned it,” said Curtis.

“I worked hard over the breaks and in the winter. During basketball, I was going to work out with the track girls after practice.”

All the work Curtis put in resulted in an experience she won’t soon forget.

“I’m still trying to comprehend what happened; the year went so fast,” added Curtis.

“It was a humbling experience; all of a sudden I was among people with a common goal. It’s a very competitive place; I had two senior years and I liked the second one better. It was nice to establish myself without the Curtis name helping me.”

Now, Curtis is ready to establish herself at Tulane. “It came down then to Tulane and Vanderbilt,” said Curtis, referring to her college decision.

“I loved New Orleans; I feel I can make a difference there. I’m probably going to do the heptathlon; I need to work on the shot put and 800. I found I’m not excellent at one event but I’m pretty good at a lot of events. I am ready to go. My parents are ready; they have already planned like 10 trips there.”

Curtis certainly made a difference at Lawrenceville as she proved to be more than pretty good.

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