Jumping into the Record Books
Jan. 8, 2009
By Matt Saylor, Bucknell Athletic Communications
She wanted to play softball in middle school, but didn’t make the team. She loved playing basketball, but was not good enough for the college level. She tried volleyball for a year, but did not really take to that either. Amy Mantush could jump though. She could really jump.
Mantush, born in Bradenton, Fla., but a resident of Pennsylvania since she was 5-years-old, is the Bucknell record holder in both the indoor (5 feet, 8 inches) and outdoor (5-7) high jump. She is second all-time in the outdoor triple jump (39-1), third in the pentathlon (3,435), fourth in the indoor triple jump (38-8 ¾), fifth in the heptathlon (4,434) and ninth in the indoor long jump (18-4 ¼). She is a two-time First Team All-Patriot League selection, as well as a two-time second-team honoree. She is only a junior.
A graduate of Hazleton Area High School, Mantush found herself attracted to Bucknell for a multitude of reasons.
“First of all, I wanted to be close to home,” she recalls. “I did not want to go to a really big school where I’d be one of thousands of students. Having individual attention from professors was important to me. Bigger schools just seem overwhelming.
“I did want to compete on the Division I level,” she continues. “That was one of my goals in high school. Bucknell also has a very good academic history, and was one of the schools that was more interested in me. This was the only place I applied.”
Mantush started off playing sports at a very young age, beginning with tee-ball. She played basketball from the fifth grade through high school. She turned to track and field in middle school, when she did not make the softball team. What drew her to the sport and made her stick with it?
“I was good at it,” she laughs. “I knew I was a pretty good jumper from playing basketball and rebounding. I’ve always been tall, though I don’t think I’ve grown since the eighth grade. Plus, I like that there are so many people on a track and field team. Every individual is competing for one humongous team. There is a championship-type atmosphere.”
Mantush started out competing in all of the jumping events — high, long and triple — in addition to running sprints, mostly the 200.
“I was a little shaky in the triple jump at first,” she admits, “but I got better. I also started running the hurdles in high school, so I was considered to be a potential multi competitor for college.”
During her senior year at Hazleton Area High School, Mantush started working on throwing, “so I could try to get the hang of it a bit before college,” she says.
While the throwing does help her in the pentathlon and heptathlon, her passion is for jumping, specifically the high jump.
“How can you not like the high jump?” she asks. “You are jumping high and landing on a big mat. It is just a lot of fun.”
She finds it much more fun than the 800 meters she has to run as part of the pentathlon and heptathlon events.
“There is no question that the 800 is not my kind of event,” Mantush explains. “I like speed and sprinting, not running with a kind of tempo.”
Mantush has found that she also likes biology, specifically that of marine mammals. A major in animal behavior, she spent the past summer at Duke University working with marine animals, including bottlenose dolphins.
“I think I would like to go into research as a marine biologist,” Mantush says, but quickly adds she is not entirely sure yet.
She came to Bucknell with her major undeclared, before trying education, looking to become a biology teacher. She found out that it wasn’t for her though.
“After observing classes and working with some students, I found that is not what I wanted to do,” she says. “I then switched to biology, before moving on to animal behavior.”
Mantush has always had pets growing up, mostly dogs, but it is her close relationship with her family that she repeatedly mentions about her home life.
“As I mentioned before, I wanted to stay close to home for school,” she says. “It feels weird if I’m not calling at least one member of my family once a day, if not multiple times. I don’t have a large family, but I think that makes us closer.”
Mantush’s parents, Eric and Linda, have been to nearly all of her events, and her aunt and sister, Kayla, come when they can as well.
The only time Mantush smiled more than when discussing her family is when she recalled her favorite track and field memory.
“It was the Patriot League indoor championships of my freshman year,” she begins. “I did not feel well at all, and was not expecting my best that day. But I went out there and won the high jump, setting a new personal record and breaking the school record at the same time. I remember everyone around being so happy, and I had so much energy then after the jump.
“What made it even better was that another freshman right near where I was competing had an amazing triple jump and right next to that another teammate cleared the pole vault. It pretty much all happened at the same time, and it helped us to win the championship.”
While telling this story Mantush was just as excited about the accomplishments of her teammates, as she was about her own record-breaking performance.
Mantush has been a little banged up this year, rehabbing a knee that has been sore since the end of the outdoor season in May. She is ready to compete though, excited that the season finally starts with the Bison Opener the first weekend in December.
“It’ll great to finally get started and get into that rhythm that’s needed throughout the year,” she says.
Her individual goals before she graduates are to improve upon her already impressive jumping heights and distances.
“I call it the ‘nines,’” she explains. “I want to reach 5-9 in the high jump, 19-0 in the long jump and 39-0 in the [indoor] triple jump. Of course, I’d like to go beyond that if I can, too.”
With over a year and a half to try to obtain her goals, you can expect Mantush to continue jumping higher and farther. She’s good at it.