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The End Zone Seat: Thinclads Heat to PIAA Meet

 

I have to admit if you had told me 10 years ago that my favorite event of the year would be the PIAA track and field championships, I would have doubted you.

But after eight years, I’m a believer.

Every spring, on Memorial Day weekend, the finest high school athletes in the state gather at Shippensburg University for two days of top-notch competition.

Once again this year, the Rocket-Courier readership area will be well represented.

Wyalusing Valley sophomore Erika Huffman will run the 800 and 1600. Huffman is seeded 19th in the 800 and seventh in the 1600.

Senior Jessica Hotaling is seeded eighth in what figures to be a highly competitive 400 that also includes Elk Lake’s Cassie VanEtten, who is seeded 15th,

VanEtten, who took home an eighth-place medal in the 400 as a junior last year, is also slated to run on Elk Lake’s 1600 relay team along with Emily Williams, Kirsten Hollister and Kelsie Hermick. They are seeded 18th.

Maria Trowbridge will be seeking her third PIAA medal in the 3200 for the Lady Warriors. However, Trowbridge, who was fourth last year and sixth as a freshman, enters Saturday’s final seeded 20th.

Elk Lake’s Mike Bedell, coming off a four-gold medal performance at the District Two meet, will seek state medals in two events.

He is seeded seventh in the 800 and will also run a leg for the 13th seeded 3200 relay along with Sean Carney, Bryan Grosvenor and Will Bennett. Bedell, Carney and Grosvenor, running with the graduated Tyler Williams last year, finished fourth.

Bennett, Carney, Brad Moore and probably Grosvenor will also run the 1600 relay. Bedell, who ran a leg at the district meet, expected to be pulled from that race in Shippensburg. The team is seeded 17th.

Carney will also look to medal in the 400, where he is the seventh seed.

Luke Jones is the highest Elk Lake seeded competitor, lining up fifth in a field full of local competitors, including Towanda’s Joel Christian and Northeast Bradford’s Curt Jewett and Sam Williams. Christian is seeded first, while Jewett and Williams are third and fourth.

Jason Vermeulen completes the Elk Lake contingent. He is the 26th seed in the long jump.

Northeast Bradford’s Jake Balchikonis will run the 800, where he is the 13th seed.

The Panthers have a strong presence in the field events.

Rob Robbins, who came within 14 inches of the PIAA mark in the javelin at the District Four meet, is the top seed in that event. He is also in the triple jump as a 16th seed.

Cody Chaffee is the 16th seed in the discus.

For the Lady Panthers, Kelsey Carlsen is the 14th seed in the javelin.

Towanda’s Jordan Dawsey will be seeking two state medals. He is seeded 18th in the 200 and will join Blake Neilson, Austin Schoonover and Caleb Willey on the 10th seeded 400 relay team.

Kylee Sutton represents the Lady Knights in the discus where she is the 15th seed.

The seedings and/or performance charts for the PIAA meet are based on the athletes’ district meet results.

This can be deceiving because factors such as weather and level of competition—good or bad—during the district meet can affect times and distances. For example, Huffman ran the 800 in 2:20.54 earlier this year at the Lasagna Invitational, but her winning time in the District Four meet was only 2:24.21. Her district race came within a very short time of her 1600, only the third time she had run the distance in competition. It was also run in considerably warmer temperatures than the cool conditions she has run in all season.

Tunkhannock qualified a number of competitors through the oft-delayed District Two, Class AAA championships, which were completed last Saturday.

Gavin Colley is slated to compete in three events, including the 200 where he is the top seed with a district winning time of 21.79 seconds.

He also won the 100 in 11.08, good for the 13th seed in Shippensburg.

Colley, Ryan Karnopp, Mike Baldwin and Nick Auriemma won the district 400 relay title in record time of 43.03 seconds. They are seeded 10th.

Tom Damiano will compete in the 800 where his district-winning time of 1:55.49 is good for the 14th seed. He will also join Ben Robinson, Jake Siegel and Alex Nole on the 3200 relay which is seeded 25th based on a time of 8:07.56.

The Lady Tigers’ Anna Nole has the best chance to medal, entering the high jump competition with the fourth-seeded height of five feet, five inches.

Destiny Distasio is seeded 21st in the pole vault, having cleared nine feet, six inches in the district meet.

Amanda Hunt, with a time of 25.89, is seeded 22nd in the 200.

If you are in southcentral Pennsylvania this weekend, I highly recommend you get to Shippensburg to watch and cheer on the locals.

They will appreciate the support and you will appreciate their efforts.

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