Bacon Academy senior Jennifer Whipple has announced her decision to continue her academic and athletic career at Lehigh University.
“So excited to announce my commitment to do track and field at Lehigh University,” Whipple announced on social media. “Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here. Go Hawks!”
Over the last few years, Whipple has become one of the state’s best young throwers, excelling at both the shot put and discus for both the indoor and outdoor track and field teams at the high school. The senior also specializes in the hammer throw and weight throw at regional competitions.
Whipple said she first started looking at Lehigh last summer before ultimately choosing the private Pennsylvania-based University in the fall.
“I wanted to go to a school that had my major,” stated Whipple. “I also really loved the program, the team, and the coach a lot.”
At Lehigh she will major in international relations, saying she became fascinated with the field over the last couple of years after taking several social studies classes and a senior Capstone Class.
Whipple’s athletic goal heading into her final competitive season at Bacon Academy is to win a state championship during this spring’s indoor track and field season.
In February, she finished second at the Class M finals in the shot put during the indoor season and last spring she placed 4th in the shot put at the Class M championships during the outdoor season.
Most recently Whipple and Bacon Academy’s track and field team competed against 30 schools from across the state at The Patriot Games at Coventry High School. Whipple placed well across the board––finishing third in the shot put, fourth in the hammer throw, and sixth in the discus.
Whipple first joined the track and field team as a sophomore and began learning the ropes under the tutelage of teammate Natalie Rolan-Issa, who Whipple called “incredible”.
Rolan-Issa was a state champion in the shot put and top-three finisher in the discus before graduating from Bacon Academy in 2020. Rolan-Issa is currently on the track and field team at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
Whipple then met current throwing coach Damien Larkin of Bloomfield, who furthered her development and honed her throwing techniques.
She called Larkin one of her biggest influences, adding, “He’s gotten me to be a lot more competitive.”
A turning point for Whipple was earlier this year when she transitioned her throwing technique from a glide to a rotation, allowing her to get more power and distance on her throws.
“That was a really big moment, not only as a thrower but as a competitor. I turned over a new leaf of wanting to attack every throw,” Whipple recalled.
She also credits her mom, Amy Whipple, for encouraging her to break out of her shell, which allowed her to challenge herself both athletically and academically in high school.
Whipple, who was born and raised in Colchester, played basketball and lacrosse prior to finding her two athletic aspirations at Bacon Academy.
Along with being an accomplished thrower, she also excelled on the volleyball courts where she earned first-team All-Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) as the Bobcats won a Division II conference title in the fall.
She has also been part of the Bacon Academy Young Democrats for the past three years, currently serving as the group’s treasurer.
Outside of high school, Whipple enjoys reading and uses it to relax before and after competitions.
Whipple said leaving the small town feel of Colchester is bitter sweet, adding “I will miss the environment; I will miss the friends I’ve made.”
Prior to choosing a college, she looked at several other opinions but ultimately chose Lehigh, saying, “I wanted to go out of state, but not too far away from home.”
Next fall, she will be on a massive campus in Bethlehem, PA that is roughly equal distance (70-80 miles) away from both Philadelphia and New York City.
At Lehigh, she will join a Mountain Hawks program that is headed by Matt Utesch, who has been coaching the track and field programs for over a quarter-century.
Whipple’s throwing coach will be Allison Taub, an accomplished thrower and 2019-graduated from Monmouth University.
Whipple said she is excited for the college experience, both from an athletic and academic standpoint, because both will allow her to travel and experience new things.
“I’m looking forward to a lot of the opportunities I will get,” said Whipple. “I’m excited for the competition at the next level and to see where it can push me”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin