Some paced with agitation as they watched the high jump bar continue to rise. Others fidgeted with gadgets meant to relax their muscles or extend their flexibility. In a brightly colored bucket hat and shades, Kolt Byers sat upon a bench, legs spread comfortably and arms stretched out gripping the back support, taking in the PIAA Track and Field Championship scene.
When it came time to perform, however, the coolest cat in Adams County exploded. The feats were supposed to get tougher. Yet, the higher the bar, the easier it seemed for the Bermudian Springs junior to slip over it. When he cleared 6 feet, 7 inches on his first attempt, it wowed the crowd. More importantly, it created the separation he needed to become the PIAA Class 2A champ. Two others cleared the same height but required more tries, making Byers the winner.
“High jump is a big head game but my coaches told me that I can’t get in my head,” Byers said, crediting his personal trainers from Kyle Aumen Fitness. “All week coach said every time you go to that bar, take some deep breaths and relax. Put the hat on — that’s my lucky hat — sit down on the bench and takes some breaths.”
The Bermudian Springs junior knew what it takes to be a state champ. He’d done it as a sophomore during an indoor meet, but acknowledged the novelty event involved a low percentage of the athletes that competed Friday at Shippensburg University. Winning an outdoor title had another level of importance.
“People look at indoor, but outdoor the atmosphere is a lot crazier,” he said. “It means a lot. It’s been a long year for high jump and it was rough at some spots. My parents and coaches stuck by me all season and I can’t thank them enough.”
Byers worked through some early struggles, but handled the upper limits easier than he cleared the lower heights. He had not cleared higher than 6-4 all season. He reached the same height to win the District 3 meet last week, as well as at the PIAA Championships last year, good for fourth place. His personal best, a 6-8 jump, came in mid-April of 2018 at the Arctic Blast Invitational at Northern York.
As athletes continued to clear greater heights, Byers joined them beside the runway to exchange handshakes and high-fives.
“Even if you lose, you still want to stay and help the people you know because you see each other at multiple meets,” he said. “We talked about 6-6 was going to be the winning jump. I never thought a 6-6 jump would get somebody a sixth place. I love that kind of competition that makes everyone jump better.”
Byers got off to a rough start this week when he realized there was a tear in his track cleats. As a result, he couldn’t get his steps aligned during practice. He said he backed up three feet further than he normally does during the state meet.
“I spend a lot of time getting my step down, but I’m kind of known for doing things on the fly,” he said. “It worked out I guess.”
Byers still plans to use the old ones today for the triple jump and the pole vault, but was glad to have made the switch in the high jump despite his discomfort.
“I’ll put some shoe glue on them,” he said. “I love those shoes. They’re broken in perfectly to my foot.”
SIEG SAILS IT AGAIN
Down to her final throw in the preliminaries and without head coach Dusty Lehr at the meet, Maddie Sieg had to trust her instincts as she took a last stab at a PIAA medal.
The Delone Catholic junior visualized her process, thought about running all the way to the lip of the runway and following through. Moments later, she delivered the throw she’d watched play over and over in her mind to make the final.
Two tosses later, she topped it by nearly three feet for a new personal record — 128-5 — and a fifth place PIAA-2A medal. It is the first time a Delone athlete brought home a state medal in the throws and matches the highest placement any Squirette has had in the field.
“It was more important to me to get the PR so I can have a good starting point to next year,” she said. “I’m getting closer and closer to the school record. I really want to get that next year.”
On a calmer afternoon, Sieg may have had a better shot to crack Stormie Hibshman’s nine-year-old Delone mark of 134-9. A steady breeze blew in the faces of the throwers as they gambled on whether or not to start their run.
Sieg was grateful to have her mother and father on hand, as well as her best friends, Deanna Klunk and Katt Chroniger.
“They left school early,” she said with a grin. “Dusty wasn’t able to make it, but he told me to keep throwing the way I know how and that he was proud of how far I’d made it.”
Tears fell from Zaiyah Marshall’s face as she pulled herself out of the sand after a second straight fault in the Class 3A girls’ triple jump.
Fortunately, the South Western sophomore was not alone. For the last time in her career, she sought a pep talk from her mentor, senior Kayla Brooks.
On her next attempt, Marshall hit the board perfectly. A hop, skip and a jump later she was in the pit. Unlike her colleagues, she landed on her feet and walked calmly through the back of the landing area.
As the officials announced her mark, a 37-9.25, Brooks mouth went agape. Marshall walked it off nonchalantly. “Bout time,” she said.
Confidence rejuvenated, Marshall finished off the afternoon with a 38-2 to place sixth in the state.
“I didn’t expect to medal. I’m really young and there’s a lot of seniors here jumping really far,” Marshall said. “It’s a big deal to get a medal here. I usually give up on myself a lot, but I’ve learned I can do more than I think I can do. Kayla helps with that too.”
Brooks finished the event with a 36-11 for a new personal record and did not medal. She’s back today in the high jump, but it’s the last time she’ll compete with Marshall.
“Don’t even say it. It kinda makes me want to cry,” she said. “I’ve been with her since freshman year. It feels weird running without her. Especially with the 4x100. We’re like a family. I’ll have to have a whole new family next year.”
Delone’s Maddie Clabaugh made the best of a topsy turvy afternoon when she dropped her school record 800 time to 2:17.39, nearly a four-second shave.
The performance came only a couple hours after the top-seeded 4x100 relay she anchored failed to advance to the finals. To avoid a blown first handoff, Julianna Malesky and Brooke Lawyer had to slow to a near stop while completing the exchange. The Squirettes still placed fourth in the heat and 12th overall with a time of 50.69 seconds.
“Obviously we were all upset,” she said. “I just had to focus on the 800 and let that go. We talked about how we had a great season. Coach said it was about the journey getting there.”
Clabaugh will be back in the 800 finals today.
BACK FOR DAY TWO
Several Times Area athletes will return for the second day of the PIAA Championships. Fairfield’s Milly Heinbaugh continued a strong postseason, advancing to the semifinals with a 12.42 second sprint in the 100 and a 25.58 second finish in the 200.
In the 100 hurdles, both Bermudian Springs’ Kayla Pyles (15.32) and Fairfield’s Zoe Logue (15.78) are back for the semis.
Berm’s Payton Rohrbaugh qualified for the semis in the 110 hurdles (15.46) and, avoiding a false start, will be guaranteed a medal in the 300 hurdles after a sizzling 39.13 second race. The same goes for Littlestown’s Derek Herr (14.96 100 hurdles/39.44 300 hurdles).
Adam Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @GoodOldTwoNames
PIAA Track & Field Championships
Friday – Shippensburg University
(Finals, plus prelims with
Times Area athletes)
Triple jump: 1. Lance Hamilton (State College) 49-6, 2. Naheem Moore (Coatesville) 48-0, 3. Cam Mbalo (Shaler Area) 47-6, 4. Will Rivers (Manheim Central) 47-6, 5. Larry Coaxum (Garnet Valley) 46-7.25, 6. Logan Williamson (Neshaminy) 46-5.5, 7. Caleb Mabins (McDowell) 46-5, 8. Jakari Lomax (Harrisburg) 46-1; Pole vault: 1. Luke Knipe (State College) 16-0, 2. John Franco (Council Rock South) 16-0, 3. Dan Dean (Neshaminy) 15-6, 4. Dan Hyatt (Hershey) 15-0, 5. Jack Codispot (Butler) 15-0, 6. David Wasson (State College) 15-0, 7. Pierce Genereux (Kennett) 14-6, 8. Matt Julian (Penn Manor) 14-0; Shot put: 1. Nickolas Hyde (Somerset) 65-6.25, 2. Thomas Kitchell (Notre Dame GP) 60-5.5, 3. Brandon George (Berks Catholic) 57-11.5, 4. Jeff Kline (Fleetwood) 56-6.75, 5. Brock Harmon (Chambersburg) 56-4.75, 6. Jason Wagner (Perkiomen Valley) 54-7.75, 7. Aidan Hayward (Owen J. Roberts) 54-6.5, 8. Jack Miller (Wilson) 54-3
400 - Heat 3: 2. Noah Sanders (Gettysburg) 49.63
800 – Heat 1: 12. Tayshawn Golden (New Oxford) 2:01.50
Long jump: 1. Brian Phillips (Hickory) 23-0, 2. Julian Fleming (Southern Columbia) 22-8.5, 3. Joseph Kearney (North Catholic) 22-8, 4. Josh Volak (Palisades) 22-3, 5. Bryan Dworek (Brookville) 22-1.25, 6. Nathan Sciarro (Riverside) 22-0, 7. Julian Muccioli (Frazier) 21-7, 8. Assad Whitehead (Hanover) 21-2.5, 12. Dante Elliot (Littlestown) 20-6.25; Javelin: 1. Evan Niedrowski (Wyomissing) 191-3, 2. Noah Weese (Sharon) 187-5, 3. Chris Fredericks (Palmerton) 185-4, 4. Matt Saxe (Northwest) 180-3, 5. Scott Benco (Waynesburg) 179-4, 6. Nick Smither (Grove City) 174-7, 7. Kaleb Hilyer (Bishop Carroll) 171-10, 8. David Fyock (Purchas Line) 170-8, 13. Derek Tosten (Biglerville) 161-2; High jump: 1. Kolt Byers (Bermudian Springs) 6-7, 2. Tyler Hulse (Tulpehocken) 6-7, 3. Joshua Forker (Faith Christian) 6-7, 4. Jake Hogg (Youngsville) 6-6, 5. Bryce Ellinger (Minersville) 6-6, 6. Michael Niemann (Lansdale Catholic) 6-6, 7. Darnel Howell (Monessen) 6-2, T8. Logan Pfister (Chestnut Ridge), Brandon Peterson (Smethport) & Zach Moyer (Northern Lehigh) 6-2; Discus: 1. Brock Grundy (Hickory) 183-2, 2. Duane Knisley (Chestnut Ridge) 171-9, 3. CJ Dippre (Lakeland) 171-7, 4. James Parenti (Moniteau) 162-7, 5. Bailey Blint (Kane Area) 155-8, 6. Connor Vass-Gal (Wilmington) 155-7, 7. Jaxon White (Central Valley) 155-6, 8. Josh Sanders (Wilmington) 155-4; 10. Isaac Almoney (Delone Catholic) 146-3, 12. Ryan Lauver (Bermudian Springs) 142-6
110 hurdles — Heat 1: 3. Payton Rohrbaugh (Bermudian Springs) 15.46q; Heat 2: 1. Derek Herr (Littlestown) 14.96q
300 hurdles – Heat 1: 1. Payton Rohrbaugh (Bermudian Springs) 39.13q; Heat 3: 1. Derek Herr (Littlestown) 39.44q
200 – Heat 3: 5. Thomas Bross (Bermudian Springs) 22.92
Triple jump: 1. Christina Warren (Perkiomen Valley) 41-4.5, 2. Tesia Thomas (West York) 38-8.75, 3. Amanda Tony (Wilson) 38-6, 4. Gabriella Recce (Central Dauphin) 38-5.25, 5. Anais Williams (North Penn) 38-4.25, 6. Zaiyah Marshall (South Western) 38-2.5, 7. Leslie Manson (Obama Academy) 37-11.25, 8. Rayna Todero (Franklin Regional) 37-8; 12. Kayla Brooks (South Western) 36-11.5
800 – Heat 2: 11. Kelty Oaster (Gettysburg) 2:22.52
High jump: 1. Taylor Newton (Elk County Catholic) 5-7, 2. Emma Pavalek (Beaver Area) 5-7, 3. Caroline Ratchford (Bishop Carroll) 5-5, 4. Gianna Bedel (Slippery Rock) 5-4, 5. Lake Lewis (Clarion Area) 5-4, 6. Porschia Bennett (Towanda) 5-4, 7. Sara Wanat (Lakeland) 5-2, 8. Emma Roltson (Greenwood) 5-4; 12. Julianna Malesky (Delone Catholic) 5-0; Discus: 1. Mallory Kauffman (Greenwood) 151-7, 2. Maura Huwalt (South Park) 136-9, 3. Sarah Korty (Carbondale) 136-7, 4. Mikayla Marino (Lakeland) 133-1, 5. Molly Piso (Hickory) 128-5, 6. Maizee Fry (United) 125-3, 7. Claire Kuzma (Quaker Valley) 124-4, 8. Miranda Schramm (Burgettstown) 122-11; Long jump: 1. Hailey Zurich (Loyalsock Twp.) 18-1.5, 2. C-Keiyah Marshall (East Allegheny) 17-9.75, 3. Lyric Janosik (Penn Cambria) 17-9.75, 4. Sophia Gardner (Loyalsock Twp.) 17-6, 5. Sasha Lee (St. Basil Academy) 17-3, 6. Izzy Warren (St. Joseph’s 17-1.75, 7. Theresa Richardson (Conwell-Egan) 17-1, 8. Baylee Blauser (AC Valley) 17-1; 20. Milly Heinbaugh (Fairfield) 15-10.25; Javelin: 1. Skylar Sherry (Johnsonburg) 137-3, 2. Maryann Ackerman (Slippery Rock) 134-2, 3. Maura Huwalt (South Park) 131-0, 4. Danielle Trimbur (Oley Valley) 128-8, 5. Maddie Sieg (Delone Catholic) 128-5, 6. Madison Hawthorne (Greenville) 127-0, 7. Haley Croyle (Forest Hills) 123-10, 8. Rebecca Dirling (Brentwood) 119-6
100 hurdles — Heat 1: 1. Kayla Pyles (Bermudian Springs) 15.32q; Heat 2: 4. Zoe Logue (Fairfield) 15.78q
100 — Heat 2: 4. Brooke Lawyer (Delone Catholic) 12.87; Heat 3: 2. Milly Heinbaugh (Fairfield) 12.42
4x100 relay — Heat 3: 4. Delone Catholic 50.69
800 – Heat 1: 3. Maddie Clabaugh (Delone Catholic) 2:17.39q
200 – Heat 1: 1. Milly Heinbaugh (Fairfield) 25.58q