Andrea Powell never has met Dick Fosbury. She might consider sending him a thank-you note, just the same.
Powell's high-jumping turning point came when she shelved her outdated scissors style and embraced Fosbury's internationally acclaimed "flop."
That was last spring, and almost overnight, her flight took wings.
"She rocks the house," L.C. Bird coach Jeff Brown said. "Dré's turned into a Division I prospect."
The 115-pound senior set a school and meet record of 5-6 in winning the Dominion District indoor title and was named field event athlete of year. She took second in the Central Region and ninth in the state Group AAA meet.
Most recently, she flopped over the bar at 5-5¼ for fifth place at the Nike Scholastic National meet in Landover, Md. She then narrowly missed at 5-7.
"I've seen pictures, and I know what I did wrong," she said of her 5-7 near miss. "I can't go back, but I'll use the knowledge to go higher next time, hopefully."
Using the scissors style -- kicking over the bar in a "sitting position" -- her best was 4-10.
THE FLOP: Now living in Idaho, Fosbury revolutionized the high jump, winning the'68 Olympic gold with a record 7-4¼. Now, virtually all successful jumpers flop.
It involves sprinting diagonally toward the standards, jumping off the outside foot, then curving the body and leaping head-first, back downward, over the bar in a rolling motion.
"I'm thinking I can go 5-8 . . . even 5-10, this spring," said Powell, whose college suitors include Hampton and VMI.
Until Fosbury unveiled the flop, most jumpers did the straddle (western roll) or scissors.
"Until I learned to flop, I was just average," Powell said.
DOMINION DANDY: Powell was sixth in the district outdoor meet last spring, at 4-10. Her coming-out party came at this winter's district indoor meet, where she won the high jump (5-6), took second in the triple jump (school record 34-11) and fourth in the long jump (16-5).
Powell first came out for track hoping to be a sprinter.
"I thought I was so fast; then reality hit," she said of her freshman year. "I was getting blown away. That's when I started looking for other events."
SHOE BUSINESS: Powell's jumping got another boost when she began wearing the proper footwear. Until this winter, she'd used her running shoes (with different spike patterns) for jumping.
"Bird doesn't provide spikes," Brown said, "and Dré had been reluctant to go buy her own. The faculty chipped in about $400. Now, she has all the gear she needs."
FOOTBALL FAMILY: The name Powell has prestige with Bird football. Andrea's oldest brother, Patrick, was a Skyhawks lineman who now plays for Massachusetts. Chris Powell (Class of'07) was an all-district defensive back.
DIFFERENT MEANINGS: Webster's New World Dictionary defines flop as "to be a failure."
By contrast, for Powell, the flop is synonymous with success.
Contact Fred Jeter at (804) 739-2219 or email@example.com.