No matter the length or competition of the hurdles race, Derek Herr never trailed in a postseason race heading into Saturday afternoon.
He’d clobbered the competition from schools of all sizes at the YAIAA Championships. He’d mastered his class — 2A — in the District 3 Championships and cruised through without flaws at the PIAA Championships Friday and Saturday morning. Until the last 20 meters of the 110 hurdles, it looked like he may never fall behind.
As he attempted to clear the third-to-last hurdle in the race, his toe pounded one of the barriers. It didn’t cost him a personal record. He still lowered his Littlestown-best mark to 14.72. All it did was allow Waynesburg’s Daniel Layton the wiggle room needed to edge past him.
“I could’ve had a 14.4, but I nailed two of them really hard and screwed up my steps. I’m still really happy with it,” Herr said of his silver-medal finish at Shippensburg University. “I was happy I was in front for half the race. I felt him coming and I might have sacrificed my form for it. It’s been a long four years but a fun four years. Overall, I’ve progressed so much — way more than I ever thought I could.”
Many of the state’s best hurdlers spend the winter meticulously treading and re-treading their steps. Herr was far from dormant, running several miles a week around the farm throughout the offseason, but waited until the season to perfect his form.
“My coaches are always motivating me, same with my parents,” he said. “I’m happy to have that because some kids don’t.”
Herr went on to take fourth place in the 300 hurdles as well, finishing in 39.20 seconds. He gained one spot when he burst across the line to pass Riverside’s Brett Hart after the final obstacle. They are the highest two medals earned by a Littlestown track and field athlete in more than a decade. It’s also the first time in as much time since a Thunderbolt brought home two medals.
“I didn’t even know if I’d be top five when I came here,” he said. “I put all of my thought into running and it seemed to work out.”
The Times Area brought home 10 state medals on Saturday, upping the weekend total to a whopping 13. Bermudian’s Payton Rohrbaugh took sixth and eighth in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, respectively. His teammate, Kolt Byers, captured his second and third medals of the weekend with a third in the pole vault and eighth in the triple jump. Fairfield’s Milly Heinbaugh nabbed sixth in the 100 and 200 dashes. Delone’s Maddie Clabaugh was sixth in the 800 and Biglerville Carter Tatara took seventh in the pole vault.
Herr credited constant races with Rohrbaugh as a motivator throughout the season. Coming into the weekend, Herr had won three of the five head-to-head battles between the two. Herr took the Adams County Invitational, the YAIAA Championships and District 3 final. Rohrbaugh won at the Arctic Blast Invitational and during the dual meet between Bermudian and Littlestown.
Rohrbaugh did not quite have the form of his rival and friend over the weekend, but continued to push through with successful races. The highlight came during the 300 hurdles semifinal when he lowered his school record time to 39.13 seconds on Friday. It was the fastest any 2A runner finished all weekend.
He finished in eighth place in the finals, clocking a time of 40.16. He started his leap early on the second to last hurdle and went through it as much as over it. He said he’d struggled on that hurdle all season.
“I realize I had nothing left to lose and I’d push it,” he said. “I took a risk and I paid for that, but it’s better than not taking it. I powered through and took the risk. As long as I can live with what I did, that’s all that really matters.”
Not even a full year of cross country and winter hurdle drills could prepare him for the toll his body took during the several races over the last two weekends. His team also competed in the 4x400 on Friday, failing to make the finals.
“I might have had an OK last race, but that doesn’t define me as a runner,” he said. “I’ve had better times, better races and that’s what I’ll remember as a runner.”
Rohrbaugh’s older step brother, Alex Maffett, went to Richmond to play baseball and returned home feeling obligated to continue, Rohrbaugh said. The hurdler hopes to avoid the same feeling, so he said he will not continue his career in college, where he will study architecture.
“I want to remember it the way that it is. I loved this and want to remember it in a positive light,” he said. “I’ll have a pretty demanding course load already. It’s a new chapter in my life. It’s time to start doing some new things.”
Herr is uncertain if he’s going to continue his track career at York College. His studies in computer science are his first priority.
If Rohrbaugh had one wish to improve the season it was that his teammate, Kayla Pyles, had made finals. She entered the semifinals with the best preliminary run in the 100 hurdles, but came in one place short of qualification in the semis on Saturday morning.
“I might go get some stuff for her and cheer her up at work,” he said. “She put in as many hours as I did.”
TWO FOR HEINBAUGH
Fairfield’s girls’ track and field program reached fever pitch in 2017 when it won a District 3 Class 2A team championship. The greatest competitor to take the track was still in the infancy of her career.
Now a junior, Milly Heinbaugh is the most successful Green Knight girl ever to take to the track. A pair of sixth-place state medals, coming in the 100 (12.61) and 200 (25.65) cemented that legacy on Saturday. She was also part of the 4x100 relay that took second in 2017.
“It’s great representing my whole school,” she said. “It’s so small, so it’s like the whole school is my family. Knowing they have my back is great.”
All season long, Heinbaugh has put serious distance between herself and the next closest competitor. Going up against four-time champ and PIAA record holder Thelma Davies of Girard College taught her what it’s like to be behind again.
“She talked about how she’s committing to LSU,” Heinbaugh said. “It’s intimidating. I get to tell people I ran against her. That’s definitely great.”
Heinbaugh said she could feel the workload from the last few weekends begin to pile up from the finish of her first event. It’s the first time she’s had to push herself as hard as possible through six races in two days.
“I’ve been working my butt off this whole season. I can feel it through my whole body,” she said. “The heat and the competition, having people beat me for the first time, messed with me for a little bit. My goal coming into this was to get on the podium for both. I’m still so proud of it.”
Earlier this season, Heinbaugh expressed her intent to pursue a track and field career, following in her brother Steve’s footsteps rather than those of her soccer-playing sisters Libby and Sarah.
“Being with all these athletes, I love the environment and the sport in general,” Milly said. “This weekend definitely solidified it.”
BACK FOR MORE
Bringing home three PIAA medals, the conventional wisdom would be that Kolt Byers might finally find time to rest. Not so for the Bermudian Springs junior, who will start work for a series of decathlons this summer.
“I have two weeks to learn shot, disc and hurdles. I’ve never done any of them,” he said. “The last two years, I hated the end of track season. I love track. It’s my life when I’m in it, and even when I’m out of it, it is too.”
Competing in three events, Byers had to make sure he stayed hydrated. Until he went to weigh in at the pole vault, he didn’t consider that he might be too hydrated.
After drinking water all morning, he weighed in a smidge over the required weight for his pole. He never suspected he’d find himself stripping off his socks in order to compete for his newest event.
The extra effort paid off in the end. Byers followed a 42-8 triple jump for eighth place with a third-place finish in the pole vault, clearing 14 feet for the first time.
“I got used to the heights and I got on a bigger pole,” he said. “I was basically going up, hoping I’d make it into the mat. I’ve fallen back into the trough before on that pole before, so I was happy to get in today.”
CANNERS NAB ONE
Byers wasn’t the only Times Area athlete to clear 14 feet in the pole vault. Biglerville’s Carter Tatara took another attempt to find his groove, but mastered the previously unachieved height for seventh place on Saturday.
“I really didn’t come here with the mentality that I would place,” he said. “I came in thinking ‘I made it this far. I’m here to have some fun.’ I swung up better and was on a pole that I’d never used before. The experimentation got me up there.”
Tatara said he’s thrilled to go home on a good note. He’ll be attending Miami of Ohio next year, where he’ll join the ROTC program. He hopes he has a shot of joining the track and field time as well, ideally for the decathlon.
Because the event finished after the day’s races had been completed, head coach Alex Ramos was able to get on the field and give his medalist a big hug.
“For our program, this means a lot,” Ramos said. “Little old Biglerville coming and getting a state medal in the pole vault. He works really hard.”
Adam Michael can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at @GoodOldTwoNames
PIAA Track & Field Championships
Saturday – Shippensburg University
Team: 1. State College 47, 2. Coatesville 40, 3. Central Dauphin East 36, 4. Central Bucks West 26, 5. Neshaminy 23
Long jump: 1. Ezra Mellinger (Lampeter-Strasburg) 23-9.25, 2. Lance Hamilton (State College) 22-8.25, 3. Carmen Ostroski (Wissahickon) 22-5.5, 4. Gavin Mayo (Hempfield Area) 22-3.25, 5. Caleb Mabins (McDowell) 22-2.5, 6. Luke Knipe (State College) 22-1.5, 7. Youssouf Diawara (Academy at Palumbo) 21-11, 8. Davon Tate (Lower Merion) 21-8.75; Javelin: 1. Chris Barrett (Northern) 203-1, 2. Collin Burkhart (Nazareth) 199-6, 3. Matt Prebola (Tunkhannock) 199-1, 4. Ricky Ortega (Coatesville) 198-1, 5. Mark Suminski (Hershey) 194-2, 6. Scott Campbell (Hazleton) 191-10, 7. Andrew Altemose (Pocono Mountain East) 190-2, 8. Devon Tate (Lower Merion) 181-5; High jump: 1. Ousman Kamara (Coatesville) 6-8, 2. Cole Peterlin (Perkiomen Valley) 6-8, 3. Conrad Moore (State College) 6-7, 4. Nate Good (Warwick) 6-7, 5. Junior Karyea (Nazareth) 6-7, 6. Joe Cardina (Conestoga Valley) 6-6, 7. Mason Ventrone (Mount Lebanon) 6-6, 8. Donovan Hart (Coatesville) 6-4; 22. Dustin Edwards (South Western) 6-0; Discus: 1. Thomas Kitchell (Notre Dame GP) 177-4, 2. Brandon George (Berks Catholic) 170-1, 3. Adam Park (Saints Mary’s) 166-7, 4. Nickolas Hyde (Somerset) 164-6, 5. Colin Lyons (McKeesport) 156-4, 6. Dylan Lambrecht (Northern Lebanon) 153-10, 7. Jeff Kline (Fleetwood) 153-7, 8. Aidan Hayward (Owen J. Roberts) 149-11; 3200: 1. Zachary Kinne (North Allegheny) 9:01.94, 2. Chayce Macknair (Mifflin County) 9:07.88, 3. Daniel McGoey (North Allegheny) 9:08.86, 4. Zachary Leachman (Mars) 9:12.17, 5. Cameron Binda (Greensburg-Salem) 9:16.57, 6. Christian Fitch (Fox Chapel) 9:17.75, 7. Tyler Clifford (Perkiomen Valley) 9:22.72, 8. Casey Padgett (Carlisle) 9:23.14; 4x800 relay: 1. Central Bucks West 7:42.52, 2. Radnor 7:43.48, 3. Pennridge 7:46.00, 4. LaSalle College 7:48.40, 5. Cedar Crest 7:48.67, 6. Central Bucks South 7:48.73, 7. Council Rock South 7:49.61, 8. State College 7:51.46; 110 hurdles: 1. Emmanuel Niang (Central Dauphin East) 14.28, 2. Jared Bannon (Hempfield Area) 14.87, 3. Ramir Wiggins (Norristown) 14.91, 4. Lokey Howell (State College) 14.94, 5. Jaidyn Parris (Milton Hershey) 15.03, 6. Curtis Young (North Penn) 15.07, 7. Nazir Dunell (Elmer L. Meyers) 15.56, False start: Mason Jones (Cheltenham)
Team: 1. Hickory 40, 2. Brookville 34, 3. Southern Columbia 28, 4. Aliquippa 26, 5. Riverside 25
Triple jump: 1. Dominic Caputo (Montoursville) 46-5.25, 2. Brody Coleman (Keystone) 44-9.25, 3. David McDonald (Hopewell) 44-3.25, 4. CJ Cole (McGuffey) 44-0.25, 5. Brian Phillips (Hickory) 43-11.5, 6. Cameron Russell (Cranberry) 43-3.5, 7. Khyree Marshall (East Allegheny) 42-9.5, 8. Kolt Byers (Bermudian Springs) 42-8; Pole vault: 1. Brant Long (Milton) 14-9, 2. Robert Krug (Forest Hills) 14-0, 3. Kolt Byers (Bermudian) 14-0, T4. Brody Myers (Camp Hill) & Isaac Lightcap (Lakeview) 14-0, 6. Neil Waldhauser (Annville-Cleona) 14-0, 7. Carter Tatara (Biglerville) 14-0, T8. Teddy Race (Kane) & Owen Jefferson (Seneca) 13-6; Shot put: 1. Brock Grundy (Hickory) 60-9.5, 2. Connor Vass-Gal (Wilmington) 60-1.5, 3. Duane Knisley (Chestnut Ridge) 56-11, 4. Jelani Stafford (California) 55-10.25, 5. Josh Gose (Lewisburg) 55-2, 6. Eric Schultz (Fairview) 53-7.5, 7. Bailey Blint (Kane) 51-1, 8. Josh Sanders (Wilmington) 50-11.75; 11. Travis Zimmerman (Fairfield) 49-3; 3200: 1. Colton Sands (Penns Valley) 9:24.75, 2. Jack Miller (Jenkintown) 9:28.06, 3. Logan Horst (Lancaster Mennonite) 9:30.55, 4. Nick Fetzer (Westmont Hilltop) 9:31.78, 5. Tanner Walter (Milton) 9 32.37, 6. Krystof Lapotsky (Mount Carmel) 9:32.62, 7. Andrew Healey (Holy Cross) 9:36.46, 8. Kevin Heeman (Wyalusing) 9:37.12; 4x800 relay: 1. Wyomissing 7:59.33, 2. North East 8:01.59, 3. Lewisburg 8:07.77, 4. Warrior Run 8:07.82, 5. Mount Carmel 8:09.71, 6. Oley Valley 8:09.82, 7. North Schuylkill 8:11.44, 8. Elk County Catholic 8:15.73; 110 hurdles: 1. Daniel Layton (Waynesburg) 14.53, 2. Derek Herr (Littlestown) 14.72, 3. Jordan Nelson (Palmerton) 14.89, 4. Dillon Olson (Brookville) 14.89, 5. Ronald Holmes (Neumann Goretti) 15.29, 6. Payton Rohrbaugh (Bermudian) 15.31, 7. Ethan Kemmer (Johnsonburg) 15.36, 8. Braedon Allen (Hickory) 15.39
Team: 1. Warwick 44, 2. North Penn 29, 3. Strath Haven 26, 4. Conestoga Valley 25, 5. Perkiomen Valley 23
High jump: 1. Lydia Bottelier (Palisades) 5-11.5#, 2. Amelia McCloy (Central Mountain) 5-8, 3. Brianna Smith (Cheltenham) 5-7, 4. Payton Kleckner (Pottsville), 5. Kayla Gillen (Twin Valley) 5-6, 6. Calista Marzolino (Abington Heights) 5-6, 7. Kate Willshaw (Easton) 5-6, 8. Alan Boidari (Avon Grove) 5-4; No height: Madeline Lehker (South Western). # — New PIAA record, breaking previous mark of 5-11.25 set by Cyre Virgo of Fleetwood in 2013; Discus: 1. Siniru Thomas (Council Rock South) 149-9, 2. Mackenna Orie (Hempfield Area) 142-0, 3. Hannah Woelfling (Cedar Crest) 134-11, 4. Adria Retter (Quakertown) 130-8, 5. Lillia Allen (Penn Hills) 130-1, 6. Keeley Suzenski (Berks Catholic) 129-4, 7. Ezra Johnson (Belle Vernon) 127-6, 8. Ashley Muliawan (West Chester Rustin) 122-11; Long jump: 1. Natalie Kwortnik (North Penn) 19-5.5, 2. Casey Burton (North Allegheny) 19-4.5, 3. Gabriella Recce (Central Dauphin) 18-11.5, 4. Meredith Engle (Northern) 18-10.75, 5. Tesia Thomas (West York) 18-9, 6. Kelsey Sebwe (Archbishop Ryan) 18-9, 7. Jayla Ellis (Oakland Catholic) 18-7, 8. Brianna Smith (Cheltenham) 18-5.5; Javelin: 1. Skylar Ciccolini (Mifflin County) 169-3, 2. Kristen Herr (Lampeter-Strasburg) 141-7, 3. Taylor Ciccolini (Mifflin County) 139-8, 4. Grace Ramsey (Periomen Valley) 139-2, 5. Brianna Spirnak (Elizabeth-Forward) 137-4, 6. Kayla Thorpe (Upper Darby) 136-5, 7. Renny Murphy (Berwick) 130-6, 8. Christine Cataldo-Smith (Pennsbury) 128-3; 3200: 1. Emily Carter (Bethel Park) 10:16.02#, 2. Reagan Underwood (Wilson) 10:18.96#, 3. Kate Dickow (Warwick) 10:20.08#, 4. Gwyneth Young (Cedar Crest) 10:21.86, 5. Sophia Toti (Carlisle) 10:23.84, 6. Jenna Mulhern (West Chester Henderson) 10:26.93, 7. Cat Shontz (Elizabethtown) 10:36.41, 8. Bryn Underwood (Wilson) 10:37.37. # — New PIAA record, breaking previous time of 10:21.06 set by Sara Sargent of Pennsbury in 2010; 4x800 relay: 1. Strath Haven 9:07.5, 2. Central Bucks West 9:13.60, 3. North Penn 9:16.16, 4. Elizabethtown 9:16.25, 5. Wilson 9:18.85, 6. Upper Dublin 9:22.98, 7. Central Bucks East 9:26.03, 8. Carlisle 9:26.25; 100 hurdles: 1. Jane Livingston (Conestoga Valley) 13.77, 2. Christina Warren (Perkiomen Valley) 13.77, 3. Jayla Ellis (Oakland Catholic) 14.46, 4. Kayli Williams (Pennsbury) 14.64, 5. Brianna Smith (Cheltenham) 14.65, 6. Flynn Begor (Mount Lebanon) 14.83, 7. Elke Knecht (Council Rock South) 14.86, 8. Danielle Bryant (Pine-Richland) 15.57
Team: 1. Neumann Goretti 64, 2. South Park 36, T3. Girard College & Loyalsock Twp. 32, 5. Shady Side Academy 26
Pole vault: 1. Trina Barcarola (Western Wayne) 12-6, 2. Hailey Zurich (Loyalsock Twp.) 12-6, T3. Laken Lewis (Clarion Area) & Taylor Shriver (Waynesburg) 12-0, 5. Rylie Mong (Warrior Run) 11-0; Shot put: 1. Mallory Kauffman (Greenwood) 48-3.75, 2. Maura Huwalt (South Park) 42-9.25, 3. Maizee Fry (United) 40-7.5, 4. Ashlyn Giles (Schuylkill Valley) 40-5.5, 5. Emma Callahan (Shenango) 39-7.75; Triple jump: 1. Maddie Murphy (Bishop Carroll) 37-10.75, 2. Jayla Bernard (Neumann Goretti) 37-8.5, 3. Theresa Richardson (Conwell-Egan) 37-8.25, 4. Sasha Lee (St. Basil Academy) 37-5.5, 5. Izzy Warren (Saint Joseph’s) 37-2, 6. Nadia Lape (Mohawk) 36-7.25, 7. Jenna Beitel (Saltsburg) 36-4.5, 8. Natasha Mihalko (Lake Lehman) 36-0.75; 21. Julianna Malesky (Delone Catholic) 34-00; 3200: 1. Gionna Quarzo (Brownsville) 10.25.91, 2. Lauren Trapani (Warrior Run) 10:57.10, 3. Cori McCormick (North Schuylkill) 11:03.25, 4. Reagan Pender (Northern Lehigh) 11:10.5, 5. Maddison Hayes (Fairview) 11:10.81, 6. MacKenzie Walker (Marion Center) 11:12.61, 7. Carmen Medvit (Shenango) 11:26.14, 8. Laura Sakol (Camp Hill) 11:27.42; 4x800 relay: 1. Neumann Goretti 9:17.22, 2. Saint Joseph’s 9:32.12, 3. Camp Hill 9:39.96, 4. Central Cambria 9:41.46, 5. Mount Carmel 9:46.40, 6. Tamaqua 9:46.41, 7. Lewisburg 9:47.25, 8. Boiling Springs 9:52.87; 100 hurdles: 1. Trina Barcarola (Western Wayne) 15.31, 2. Tia Taylor (St. Basil Academy) 15.45, 3. Aniyah Anderson (Hickory) 15.61, 4. Megan Kendall (Loyalsock Twp.) 15.44, 5. Jayla Bernard (Neumann Goretti) 16.14, 6. Brooke Quairier (Brookville) 16.18, 7. Izzy Warren (Saint Joseph’s) 16.50, 8. Kari Cambria (Southern Columbia) 17.21