Athens girls’ track and field coach Ben Gambrell, and former Athens star Jarred Gambrell (left) talk to Breana Gambrell and Ariana Gambrell (second to right) during the Lasagna Invite earlier this season.

Review Photo/BRIAN FEES

The NTL has had a lot of great athletes over the years.

Just in the past 15 years Rob Robbins of Northeast Bradford broke a state record. Missi Miller of Athens and Curt Jewett of Northeast Bradford were among those who brought home state titles.

But, one family has stood out as something different. Something special.

What the Gambrells have done in Athens is the stuff of legend.

Generations from now they will be talking about the accomplishments of the four standouts.

It all started with Jarred Gambrell. And, now, the last of the four, Benny Gambrell, is making his first trip to districts.

Jarred Gambrell was a three-time state champion in the triple jump. He’s the state record holder in Class AA in the event. He was a state medalist in the 100 meters and the long jump. He was an All-American and went on to compete for four years at Michigan State in the Big 10.

Breana Gambrell enters her last District 4 meet as one of the most accomplished athletes in the district’s history.

Breana Gambrell has won the long jump state title in each of her first three trips to states. She won the triple jump last year. She won the long jump indoors this year. She has been a state runner-up in the 100 meters twice. She won the Penn Relays and she is routinely jumping 20 feet in the long jump this year, which would break the state record if she does that next week. The state record is 19-feet, 10 3/4-inches, something Gambrell has repeatedly eclipsed last year. The state mark in the triple jump of 40-feet, 3 1/2-inches isn’t out of reach either for Gambrell.

With one more state meet to go, Breana Gambrell already has five state titles (one indoors in her only indoor season) and two state runner-up finishes. She’s committed to Penn State next year and her winning distance at the NTL meet last week would have placed her fourth at the Big 10 Championships.

Breana Gambrell is so far ahead of the field, that she’s seeded nearly three feet beyond anyone else in the long jump at districts. She won the triple jump at states by nearly two feet last year.

Entering her third district meet, Ariana Gambrell is seeded second in the 100 hurdles, below the state cut in the race. Along with her sister, Ariana is a member of Athens’ 4x100 relay team that’s seeded first at districts, and is ranked No. 1 in the state. Ariana has already won state relay medals, and this year she is looking to add an individual state medal to her collection.

For Benny Gambrell, this is his first high school season. He’s been battling an injury late in the year, but still gutted it out to win the long jump at the NTL meet, and earn a top seven seed at districts.

Already the Gambrell family has seven outdoor state titles, and they have plenty of time to add to that haul. Breana will become the second of the kids to compete at the Big 10 level of Division I track and field.

Last year Breana and Ariana helped lead the Athens girls to their first District 4 team title, and it’s very possible they could lead them to a repeat this year.

At times, the Gambrells have been so good they start to spoil people in the area.

A jump of 17-feet in the girls’ long jump makes you one of the top seeds for districts, but when you regularly see 20 feet it makes your expectations for greatness that much higher.

The top AAA seed for District 4 in the triple jump is 45-feet, 9-inches this year, which is three feet longer than the next best jumper. While nearly 46 feet is impressive, is just reinforces how amazing it was when Jarred Gambrell was routinely leaping over 50 feet.

The NTL has seen its fair share of great athletes over the years.

And, the NTL will see so many more great athletes in the future.

There will be district titles. There will be state gold and likely even some state record holders mixed in there.

There may be runners like Missi Miller who do things you have never seen before. There may be throwers like Rob Robbins, who are so good that they end up at the Olympic Trials.

But, it’s not likely there will ever be a family quite as accomplished as the Gambrells.

In 50 years people will be talking about how unbelievable it was watching the family compete. This week, people get an opportunity to see the first family of NTL track and field for themselves.

Enjoy this weekend while you have the chance to see three Gambrells competing in the same weekend. It’s something we haven’t seen before at districts, and something we won’t see again.

And, that’s also what we seem to say every time the family competes as they put up performances that are must see.

Sports Editor

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