Kingston — Kristen Burpoe is grateful for everything she has because she knows how quickly it can all be taken away.

Kingston — Kristen Burpoe is grateful for everything she has because she knows how quickly it can all be taken away.

Two months ago she was already looking forward to graduation from Marlboro, a college scholarship in hand and the promise of defending her state title in the high jump. Life was good, she thought.

Her good fortune came to a crashing halt on March 27. Burpoe was behind the wheel of her car, waiting at a stop sign, when another car slammed into the rear of her vehicle. She slammed her shoulder, and her car was totaled. She climbed out of the car, fell to the ground and began hyperventilating.

"It was so scary,'' she said. "I can remember everything that happened. I can replay it over and over "¦ it was terrible.''

She told the doctors at the hospital that she felt fine, but when she woke up the next morning her back had seized up from whiplash. "I was stiff as a board, I couldn't move at all,'' she said.

Her doctor said he did not think Burpoe would be able to run or jump, two things she was very good at doing — she won the state small school title in the high jump and was eager to repeat as champion.

"I started crying,'' she said. "I was so upset. It was the worst thing I could have heard.''

What has happened since then is nothing short of a personal miracle. The pain and stiffness subsided after weeks of chiropractic therapy and she was allowed to return to practice. Four weeks ago she was given permission to run sprints. Three weeks ago she started to practice the long jump. At last week's Mid-Hudson Athletic League meet, she cleared 5 feet, 2 inches in her first high jumping competition, only four inches off her personal best. She placed second in the high and long jumps and third in the triple jump.

Her comeback received another positive boost yesterday with wins in the high jump and long jump and a third-place finish in the triple jump at the Section 9 Class B championships. She cleared 5 feet in the high jump, 16 feet in the long and 31-10¾ in the triple.

"I feel better than anyone ever said I would be able to feel,'' Burpoe said.

"The doctor said "¦ I healed a lot better than he expected me to, which I am really happy about it. I still have little effects throughout my muscles in my back but I can move my neck fine now.''

Burpoe will compete in the high and long jumps at next week's state qualifier.

"I can understand what I have been through this year,'' Burpoe said, "and I've come a long way, even coming back and winning the Section 9 title. It's more than I could have asked for.''

The Onteora boys ran away from Rondout Valley for the boys' title.

New Paltz and Onteora tied for the girls' team title. Natalie Busby of New Paltz won the 800, 1,500 and 3,000.