Change of Course: After leaving the sport sophomore year, Athens’ Lunger commits to D1 college for T&F.

By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | October 31, 2017


As a sophomore Emily Lunger made the tough choice to walk away from the sport of track and field to put more focus on basketball.

It didn't take long for Lunger to realize how much she missed track and field, and now as an Athens senior she's committed to the Division I St. Francis Red Flash for the sport.

"It was a very tough decision, but I choose St. Francis so I can stay kind of close to home, and my parents and family will be able to watch me," Lunger said. "When I went there the team really felt like a family and it was a great atmosphere."

For Lunger, it's a surprise that the sport she once walked away from is now the one that's landing the three-sport star at a Division I school.

"I am very surprised," she said. "When I took off my sophomore year I tried to pursue basketball because that's what I thought I'd go to college for. But, I realized how much I missed it (track and field). And, I came back and saw I what I was able to do and I got the college offers."

For Lunger there were some hard times deciding on soccer, track and field or basketball for college.

"For my better interest track and field just happened to be the one I went with," Lunger said.

A year ago Lunger qualified for states in four events, the 200, 400, 4x400 relay and high jump, medaling in both the 400 and 4x400 relay and breaking the school record in the high jump. She helped lead the Athens girls to their first team title in track and field.

In college Lunger is excited to see what she can do with training all year, and college coaches.

"I can't imagine what I'll be able to do at a college level with college training every day," Lunger said. "Coach (Ben) Gambrell and coach Dave (Gabriel) and all my coaches are amazing coaches. But, with a college coach I can't imagine what I can do.

"Going all year, and winter training is something I have never been able to do in high school because I participate in three sports," Lunger said.

For the Athens senior being able to focus on just one or two events at the college level is something she knows can make her even better in those events.

"I am excited to definitely excel in one event or two and see how good I can do," she said.

Right now Lunger isn't sure exactly what events she will do in college as the coaches like all of her events.

"They didn't really give me an idea," she said. "They like all three of the events I did in high school, the 400, 200 and high jump. It's going to be a mystery when I get there I'm going to find out."

For Lunger there are a couple favorite events that she really wants to improve on.

"If I'm choosing what I want to work the most on it would be between the high jump and the 200, those are my favorite events. I can't choose between those two."

As Lunger got through last year and started to really focus on college she began to realize that track and field was the sport for her.

"At the end of my junior year I got some basketball offers, but I decided at the end of my junior year I would focus mainly on track."

And, when she started to look at schools St. Francis was the right fit both athletically, and academically.

"I was planning to major in the business field of marketing," Lunger said. "They have a phenomenal marketing program with great placement ratings afterward."

Now that the choices is made Lunger can focus on the rest of her senior year.

"It's very nice," Lunger said. "It's sad that it's my last year to put on an Athens jersey, but a relief it all paid off in the end."

Lunger becomes the second Athens track and field standout to commit to a Division I school this month as Breana Gambrell committed to Penn State recently.

"I have to give it to Breana, it's been amazing to train with her over the years and have someone push me," Lunger said. "So, she really helped out in my success."


About the Author

Brian Fees Author Bio
Brian Fees

Brian Fees is the sports editor of the Daily & Sunday Review in Towanda, PA.