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The End Zone Seat: Another Lasagna in the Books

Take hundreds of track athletes from 24 high schools and throw them all together at Wyalusing Valley’s Peterson Stadium in a cool, damp evening and you have the Lasagna Invitational.

While this year’s event, held last Friday night, didn’t have the star power of last year’s record-shattering meet, it still didn’t lack for drama or outstanding performances.

Nine new meet records were set, including several that totally shattered the old marks.

Towanda’s Joel Christian and Dallas’s Regan Rome simply smashed the existing boys’ and girls’ 3200 marks, respectively.

Both did it against outstanding fields.

The boys’ race included a virtual who’s who of distance runners in the Northern Tier League and District Two.

Christian finally broke away from a pack of runners with just over a lap left to run.

When the other front runners crossed the line behind them, many of them collapsed in the grass, spent from the brutal pace under what by then was almost perfect conditions for a distance race.

No fewer than 10 runners finished under the 10-minute mark, led by Christian’s 9:32.65, which was almost six seconds better than runner-up Curt Jewett of Northeast Bradford.

“It certainly lived up to the hype,” Wyalusing Valley head coach Jim Schools said afterward.

Rome’s meet in the girls’ race was never in doubt as she steadily pulled away from a strong field that included the defending champion, Elk Lake’s Maria Trowbridge, North Penn’s Learn sisters—Susan and Violet—Holy Redeemer’s Marissa Durako, Abington’s Heights’ Taylor Ross, Troy’s Casey Norton and Wyalusing’s Abby Fogel.

Wyalusing’s Erika Huffman and Windsor’s Maddy Zietz staged a brilliant battle in the 800 with Zietz winning by 0.01 seconds, passing Huffman in the final stride.

In a meet as big as the Lasagna, there are going to be a few hiccups.

Certainly, the weather was a factor as it has been all season. Early in the event, intermittent showers floated over the stadium. Around 6 p.m., a heavy downpour mixed with gusty winds made life miserable for athletes and fans alike.

Once the skies dried up, the temperatures dropped, but it was probably better conditions for the athletes after night fell than it was when the sun, such as it was, was out.

One problem, which created an issue throughout the night, was a bad batch of rounds for the starter’s guns.

In almost all of the sprints, races had to be restarted because the powder flashes weren’t bright enough for the F.A.T. timing system to pick up, starting the clock.

The field events, even with minimum heights and distances established, still dragged on with the girls’ shot put not concluding until after midnight, nine hours after the start of the meet.

But the minor difficulties, which I am confident the meet organizers will continue to address, shouldn’t dampen what was another outstanding meet filled with great performances and exciting races.

Every year, the athletes use the Lasagna Invitational to begin that final drive toward the rapidly approaching post-season meets that determine league championships in the NTL and state qualifiers for all the contending teams.

This year’s meet was certainly a great way to begin the final month of the season that will likely end in PIAA medals for many of the competitors in Shippensburg on Memorial Day weekend. 

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