Year of the Lady Ram
As every horseplayer has learned, if everything went according to the numbers in the racing forms, picking winners would be easy.
But it’s never that simple when the race is actually run.
The Wyalusing Valley girls’ track team proved that with their stunning and richly deserved upset victory in the Northern Tier League Large School championship meet at Peterson Stadium on May 14.
Entering the meet, Wellsboro, which had most of the key pieces back from last year’s championship squad, was highly favored.
When the final tally was counted at the end of a cool, damp day of track, Wyalusing prevailed, finishing with 157 points, well ahead of runner-up Wellsboro, which finished with 124 points.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them than I am right now,” Wyalusing head coach Jim Schools said afterward.
“We told them in the team meeting Friday that if we do what we’ve been doing all season, we’ll be in the hunt.”
Wyalusing’s top athletes performed to expectations and the depth came through with enough points to make the difference in the victory.
Erika Huffman, who had Wyalusing’s only win in last year’s meet, defended her 800 title with a time of 2:27.22 and ran a leg on the victorious 3200 relay team with Elesha Schulze, Jessica Hotaling and Abby Fogel in 10:24.73. She also picked up crucial points, finishing second in the 1600, a race she had only run once before.
With the meet winding down and a chance to shut out Wellsboro in the 3200, Huffman, who has never run that distance, soldiered home in sixth, three spots behind Fogel.
“It went well,” Huffman said of her win in the 800. “They were playing with me a little bit, but when I hit the finish line (to start the last lap), I took off.”
Hotaling added a vital win in the 400 in 59.99, finished second in the 800 and added a fifth-place finish in the 200.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Hotaling said of her 400 victory.
Schools was appreciative of the efforts from Huffman and Hotaling in events they don’t usually undertake.
“We asked a lot of them,” he said. “They put the team first.”
Schulze added a win in the high jump with a height of five feet, derailing Wellsboro’s Taylor Acorn’s bid for four victories on the day.
“I felt really good all morning,” Schulze said. “I kept telling myself I was going to make five feet.”
Schulze also finished fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Kaitlyn Faulkner was also a two-time winner, capturing the 100 hurdles in 17.28 and running the first leg of the victorious 400 relay. She joined Kaci Woznicki, Lindsay Schulze and Kayleen Sutton to win the relay in 53.12. She also was second in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the long jump.
Faulkner admitted to butterflies before the 100 hurdle final, which probably didn’t get any better when Wellsboro’s Alex Marple, an old rival, broke out to an early lead.
“As the race started, she got ahead of me a little bit. I had to push myself and beat her. That’s been my goal since my sophomore year.”
Alexis Daly added a win in the javelin, a major accomplishment for the junior who just joined the track team this season.
Her throw of 104-10 wasn’t her best of the year, but it was good enough to win.
She also finished second, ahead of teammate Erin Dean-Swank in the shot put, collecting more much-needed points in the field events.
“It’s exciting,” Daly said. “It’s an honor to play for Wyalusing and be able to win an NTL title.”
Dean-Swank also had a third-place finish in the discus, where she and Denae Boyanowski, who was sixth, shut out Wellsboro from scoring in the event.
Jessica Carr won the pole vault with a height of eight feet. Her accomplishment was notable because the event was held in the height of a wind-driven rain that made the first hour or two of the meet miserable.
“I thought it was going to be pretty close between Wellsboro’s Sarah Kramer and I,” Carr said later. Kramer finished in a tie for second, while Wyalusing’s Taylor Newton and Jordan Armitage finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I seem to be doing better in bad conditions lately,” Carr joked, referring to the nasty weather.
Other girls who came through with solid performances included Fogel, who ran sixth in a blazing fast 1600 that saw four girls break the old meet record.
Lindsay Schulze was second in the triple jump. Sutton ran a leg on the fourth-place 1600 relay with Liz Keeney, Jordan Armitage and Savannah Schools. Claire Howard was fifth in the high jump.
Their coach believes a season’s worth of hard work paid off.
“The girls’ team has been improving as the season moved along, constantly getting better and better and better.”
Entering the meet, it was assumed that the title was anyone’s to win.
It took the last event of the meet to settle the issue with Athens and Towanda finishing in a first-place tie with 145 points. Wyalusing finished third with 109.5 points, well ahead of Troy.
Tracey LaFrance led the Rams with two event wins, capturing the shot put with a throw of 43 feet, 3.5 inches and the discus with a toss of 127 feet, 7 inches.
LaFrance admitted that he was surprised with his victories, especially since he was coming off an injury earlier in the week.
“I sprained my ankle and I was just happy to participate, let alone win both events.”
He equaled his season best in the shot put and surpassed his discus mark by five inches.
Schools, who watched his boys’ team finish last with just 43 points in last year’s meet, couldn’t have been more pleased with the improvement this season.
“We had that many points after five events this year,” he said. “They ran great and jumped great.”
Lewis Adams, faced with the unenviable task of competing head-to-head with Athens superstar Jarred Gambrell in the jumps, finished second in the long jump and third in the triple jump. He also joined Ryan Miller, Tim Ace and Adam Brigham on the third-place 400 relay.
Tucker Allyn finished second in a stirring duel with North Penn’s Jacob Nance in the high jump. He also was second in the javelin and fourth in the shot put.
Miller added a third-place finish in the javelin.
Stephan Tewksbury finished fourth in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200.
Aaron Johnson, a newcomer to track, had a sixth in the 200 and long jump.
In the hurdles, Dan Frankenfield was fifth in the 110 and sixth in the 300, while teammate Stefan Poost was fifth in the 300 and sixth in the 110. Poost also ran a leg on the 1600 relay with Adam Brigham, Eric Fenton and Jordan Knapp that finished fourth.
Knapp was fifth in the 800 and ran a leg of the 3200 relay with Tyler Sutton, Ryan Hart and Aaron Woodruff.
Wyalusing placed three boys in the pole vault, led by Ben Haefka’s third-place finish. Tim Kuntz was fourth and Chris McDonald was sixth. McDonald also finished sixth in the triple jump.
Anthony Benninger was fourth in the discus and sixth in the shot put.
NTL LARGE SCHOOL
Results from the Northern Tier League Large School Championships at Wyalusing Valley High School on May 14. Event results include all winners and all other place-finishers from Wyalusing Valley. New meet records in italics.
Team: Wyalusing Valley 157, Wellsboro 124, Athens 88, Towanda 72, Troy 53, North Penn 51.
100 Dash: 1. Taylor Acorn, Wellsboro, 13.24.
200 Dash: 1. Taylor Acorn, Wellsboro, 26.82. 5. Jessica Hotaling, Wyalusing Valley, 28.01.
400 Dash: 1. Jessica Hotaling, Wyalusing Valley, 59.99.
800 Run: 1. Erika Huffman, Wyalusing Valley, 2:27.22. 2. Jessica Hotaling, Wyalusing Valley, 2:30.80.
1600 Run: 1. Susan Learn, North Penn, 5:16.13. 2. Erika Huffman, Wyalusing Valley, 5:19.78. 6. Abby Fogel, Wyalusing Valley, 5:34.15.
3200 Run: 1. Susan Learn, North Penn, 11:40.98. 3. Abby Fogel, Wyalusing Valley, 11:51.69. 6. Erika Huffman, Wyalusing Valley, 12:21.77.
100 Hurdles: 1. Kaitlyn Faulkner, Wyalusing Valley, 17.28.
300 Hurdles: 1. Alex Marple, Wellsboro, 49.31. 2. Kaitlyn Faulkner, Wyalusing Valley, 51.57. 4. Elesha Schulze, Wyalusing Valley, 53.44.
400 Relay: 1. Wyalusing Valley (Kaitlyn Faulkner, Kaci Woznicki, Kayleen Sutton, Lindsay Schulze), 53.12.
1600 Relay: 1. Athens (Laura Lockard, Monica Dougherty, Rachael Donnelly, Ashlee Fisher), 4:15.33. 4. Wyalusing Valley (Elesha Schulze, Jordan Armitage, Liz Keeney, Savannah Schools), 4:45.01.
3200 Relay: 1. Wyalusing Valley (Jessica Hotaling, Abby Fogel, Elesha Schulze, Erika Huffman), 10:24.73.
High Jump: 1. Elesha Schulze, Wyalusing Valley, 5-0. 45. Claire Howard, Wyalusing Valley, 4-8.
Pole Vault: 1. Jessica Carr, Wyalusing Valley, 8-0. 5. Taylor Newton, Wyalusing Valley, 7-6. 6. Jordan Armitage, Wyalusing Valley, 7-0.
Long Jump: 1. Taylor Acorn, Wellsboro, 16-8.25. 6. Kaitlyn Faulkner, Wyalusing Valley, 14-11.5.
Triple Jump: 1. Megan Yanchuk, Troy, 32-8. 2. Lindsay Schulze, Wyalusing Valley, 32-3.5.
Shot Put: 1. Kylee Sutton, Towanda, 33-5. 2. Alexis Daly, Wyalusing Valley, 30-11.5. 3. Erin Dean-Swank, Wyalusing Valley, 30-9.5.
Discus: 1. Kylee Sutton, Towanda, 104-10. 3. Erin Dean-Swank, Wyalusing Valley, 89-10. 6. Denae Boyanowski, Wyalusing Valley, 81-5.
Javelin: 1. Alexis Daly, Wyalusing Valley, 104-10.
Team: Athens 145, Towanda 145, Wyalusing Valley 109.5, Troy 72, Wellsboro 55.5, North Penn 28.
100 Dash: 1. Jarred Gambrell, Athens, 11.52.
200 Dash: 1. Jarred Gambrell, Athens, 22.94. 6. Aaron Johnson, Wyalusing Valley, 23.92.
400 Dash: 1. Nick Carl, Athens, 51.26.
800 Run: 1. Matt Oldroyd, Troy, 2:03.35. 5. Jordan Knapp, Wyalusing Valley, 2:10.49.
1600 Run: 1. Jordan Jackson, Wellsboro, 4:25.1. 4. Stephan Tewksbury, Wyalusing Valley, 4:37.35.
3200 Run: 1. Joel Christian, Towanda, 9:54.13. 5. Stephan Tewksbury, Wyalusing Valley, 10:31.93.
110 Hurdles: 1. Kyle Pane, Athens, 15.37. 5. Dan Frankenfield, Wyalusing Valley, 18.37. 6. Stefan Poost, Wyalusing Valley, 18.39.
300 Hurdles: 1. Kyle Pane, Athens, 42.48. 5. Stefan Poost, Wyalusing Valley, 45.63. 6. Dan Frankenfield, Wyalusing Valley. 46.77.
400 Relay: 1. Towanda (Blake Neilson, Austin Schoonover, Steven Vogel, Charlie Kerin), 45.85. 3. Wyalusing Valley (Ryan Miller, Lewis Adams, Tim Ace, Adam Brigham), 47.0.
1600 Relay: Athens (Kyle Pane, Bradley Miner, Nick Carl, Cory Poklemba), 3:34.71. 4. Wyalusing Valley (Stephan Poost, Jordan Knapp, Adam Brigham, Eric Fenton), 3:53.40.
3200 Relay: Troy (Matt Oldroyd, Kyle Robbins, Zack Despreaux, Harley Drake), 8:29.31. 3. Wyalusing Valley (Ryan Hart, Tyler Sutton, Jordan Knapp, Aaron Woodruff), 8:50.0.
High Jump: 1. Jacob Nance, North Penn, 6-5. 2. Tucker Allyn, Wyalusing Valley, 6-2.
Pole Vault: 1. Skylar Gerrity, Towanda, 12-0. 3. Ben Haefka, Wyalusing Valley, 11-6. 4. Tim Kuntz, Wyalusing Valley, 11-6.
Long Jump: 1. Jarred Gambrell, Athens, 22-7. 2. Lewis Adams, Wyalusing Valley, 21-0.75. 6. Aaron Johnson, Wyalusing Valley, 19-4.
Triple Jump: 1. Jarred Gambrell, Athens, 49-0.25. 3. Lewis Adams, Wyalusing Valley, 40-3.75. 6. Chris McDonald, Wyalusing Valley, 37-7.5.
Shot Put: 1. Tracey LaFrance, Wyalusing Valley, 43.3.5. 4. Tucker Allyn, Wyalusing Valley, 40-10. 6. Anthony Benninger, Wyalusing Valley, 40-3.5.
Discus: 1. Tracey LaFrance, Wyalusing Valley, 127-7. 4. Anthony Benninger, Wyalusing Valley, 105-6.
Javelin: 1. Josh Evans, Wellsboro, 140-4. 2. Tucker Allyn, Wyalusing Valley, 139-9. 3. Ryan Miller, Wyalusing Valley, 132-11.