On May 5, Fitch senior Carissa Jenkins, daughter of Jessica Jenkins and Chuck Dailey, signed her letter of intent with Queens University in Charlotte, N.C. to compete on both the track and cross country teams. Her running career has seen her set numerous school records, making her a desirable new recruit for Queens.
Carissa didn't start out as a track and cross country star. She was first involved in girls' soccer. In the seventh grade, she was playing in a soccer game and suffered a broken arm that ended that athletic path.
''The coaches told me to try cross country, so I did,'' she said. ''At cross country, they told me I should try out for the track team, so I did.''
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
On May 5, Fitch senior Carissa Jenkins signed her letter of intent to compete in cross country and track at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., this fall. Pictured seated from left are: Carissa's mother, Jessica Jenkins; Carissa; and her sister, Lindsey Jenkins. Back row from left are: cross country coach Amy Diefenderfer and middle school track coach Bob Lape.
Austintown Middle School coach Bob Lape said Carissa was an outstanding runner who progressed rapidly in the sport.
''She held 10 cross country school records while at AMS,'' Lape said. ''She did the same at Fitch and now holds 20 school records with the hope to set one more before the track season is over.''
He said she wants to break the school record in the 1600-meter.
On the cross country side at Fitch, Carissa was a four-year letter winner. Coach Amy Diefenderfer said Carissa was a big asset to the team.
''Expect the unexpected,'' Diefenderfer said. ''Carissa is very energetic and puts her all into everything she did. She is also a happy person who brought a lot of joy to the team.''
Carissa's cross country career includes a trip to state during her sophomore year where she placed 11th.
In addition to her twin sports, Carissa also kept busy as an editor for the Fitch newspaper, the Talon, as well as dressing in the Falcon mascot for the 2013 football season.
It was in her sophomore year that she learned about Queens University through informational pamphlets she received in the mail. When she visited the university, she knew that was where she wanted to continue her athletic career.
''I like the weather down south and the campus was a real turn on for me,'' she said.
Carissa plans on majoring in communications and hopes to pursue a career as a publicist or journalist.