For area track and field athletes, Saturday’s PIAA Championships held at Shippensburg University involved an avalanche of medals, and it featured Bermudian Springs and the Carlson family.
Saturday’s haul produced six state medals for area athletes, and two school records to boot.
Michael Carlson closed out his outstanding career at Bermudian Springs, running a messy — yet beautiful — race to grab second place in the Class 2A 110-meter hurdles. Carlson, who did not qualify for the hurdle final last year, ran 14.67 after hitting five hurdles. The fact that he kept his poise and concentration is as impressive as his silver medal.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Carlson said. “I am surprised I ran so close to my P.R. with hitting five hurdles. I am so happy I got second place, since that was my goal coming into the race.”
It was an exciting race, as Jake Rose of Southern Columbia ran a fast 14.09 to win it. That time was just off the state record of 14.00. Rose also won the 300 hurdles.
Despite his contact with several of the hurdles, Carlson battled to the end and threw himself across the line to nab the silver medal by one hundredth of a second. He didn’t quite run a personal best, but he was very happy with his finish.
“I got him at the line with my lean,” Carlson said. “I just feel great. I did indoor track this year and really worked on my form with my coach. This last month I have been hitting nothing but 14s with the FAT times, so I have been consistent. This is just what I wanted.”
Carlson came back in the afternoon to compete in the pole vault. His jump of 13-0 placed him 10th; his P.R. of 13-6 would have gotten him a medal.
That brings up the other half of the Carlson family. Lily Carlson, who just missed making the final in the 100-meter hurdles on Friday, came out in the pole vault and performed better than she ever had before. In fact, her vault of 11-feet, 6-inches tied her for the school record in the vault, matching Georgia Williams’s effort from 2009.
Carlson has had an amazing season, and she is only a freshman. Competing on the biggest stage of her life, she came through with flying colors, with her 11-6 vault good enough to grab third place.
Carlson was clear up to 11-0, and then the competition was paused while Tatum Norris of Susquehanna went over to run the 100-meter dash final. Tatum won the 100 in 12.40, then came back to clear 11-0, then topped 11-6.
Carlson missed her first attempt at 11-6, relegating her to third place behind Tatum and winner Ella Dougher of Western Wayne. Carlson was very happy with her day, and to have jumped the same height as the state champion was satisfying.
“I knew I could get 11-6 today,” she said, “and I was just hoping to achieve that goal. I just need to finish and pull through and I think I can get 12-0. I need to come into the pit a little further. It was an amazing season and I have an amazing coach. The season was just so great, and I had so much fun.”
Silver medalist Tatum came back later in the day to win the 200-meter dash (24.94) for her second gold of the day.
Defending state 2A triple jump champion Alison Watts came into Saturday’s competition as the fourth seed, but her personal best of 39-1 was better than anyone else in the field. The Bermudian Springs sophomore started things off well, hitting 37-1 on her second jump. In fact, that distance held up through the first five rounds, but there were two jumpers within three inches of that.
“I felt pretty good after the preliminaries,:” Watts said, “but I was hoping to get it out a little further. I knew some of the others could jump farther than that.”
Watts’s fifth jump (out of six) was a big one, but she fouled by less than an inch. In the final round Grace Bresnan of Reynolds had a huge jump of 37-2.25 to move from sixth place into the lead. Then Laiyla Russell of Cranberry jumped 37-2.25 as well, pushing Watts to third. West Catholic’s Taleea Buxton’s final jump was 37-6.25, putting her in first and Watts into fourth. With one final chance to take the gold, Watts hit another good-looking jump, but fouled again. She ended up fourth, with Buxton the champion.
“I thought it was a pretty good jump and others thought it was good, but you know, it was a foul,” Watts said. “On the last jump, I was just trying to the same jump without fouling, but I fouled again, and I think by a little more. But it was nice competition, because I know a lot of kids PRed (got a personal record) so that was cool. I know one girl broke her school record, and I was happy for her.”
Watts ended the season breaking her own school record in the triple, and getting close to her record in the long jump. She also shares the school record in the 100 meters. It was a season where she and Lily Carlson showed that young athletes can contribute to a division-winning team, and where senior hurdler/sprinter Lily LaBure nurtured their competitive fires toward that goal.
“I think this season we were really competitive and it was nice for us,” Watts said. “We were all improving through the season and there were a lot of PRs. I am really excited to see what Lily can do next year. I really hope that she and I can get more kids out for the team, like bringing up freshmen to help us continue to do well.”
In other 2A action, Hanover’s Matthew Nawn culminated an outstanding season with another school record. Coming into the meet as the fifth seed, Nawn had a sound strategy for his 3200-meter race. The senior, running the last race of his career, ran even splits on the way to another school record. Nawn got out in the top 10 after one lap in the crowded field of 26 runners, then settled into the top 15.
He then proceeded to run 73 or 74 second laps for the rest of the race, until he unleashed a 66 to pass five runners and finish with a time of 9:36.63. It was the second school record for Nawn in the last two weeks, and he finished 10th.
“I got bullied the first three or four laps, and just couldn’t get on the inside,” Nawn said. “I ran a personal record, so there is nothing to be upset about. I am the tenth-fastest guy in the state, so I don’t care if I didn’t get a medal. It’s hard to get in the top eight, so I am very happy with this.”
Nawn will continue his academic career at Villanova, where he expects to run for the Philly Track Club, while majoring in electrical engineering.
“I plan to keep running, so we will see what happens,” Nawn said. “I want to get more experience under my belt, and who knows, maybe I will get good enough to get to walk-on to the track team. Part of me is sad to take off the jersey one last time, but I am so excited for what is next.”
In 3A competition, South Western’s Maddie Lehker led the way. The senior all-around athlete qualified for states last year but did not win a medal. She came into Saturday’s high jump competition as the 13th seed, but she far surpassed expectations. After an early miss at 5-0, she moved through the heights to 5-6 without another miss. Lehker had one good attempt at 5-6, but with her personal best a school-record 5-5, it was a longshot. Her clearance of 5-4 was good enough for third place, and she was thrilled.
“I was close!” Lehker said of her attempt at another school record. “The coaches taught us to just calm down and take things easy. So much of it is just mental. But I am very happy and excited with this. It has been a long and tiring year I guess, but I just love it.”
Lehker would have had to clear 5-9 to have had a chance at second, and the event was won by Nene Mokonch of Spring-Ford, with a jump of 5-10.
Lehker will attend Bucknell next year, and plans on high jumping for the Bison’s track and field team.
Bernard Bell, who has had an impressive season in the hurdles for South Western, finished 8th in the final of the 3A 110-meter hurdles in 15.07. Demaris Waters of Harrisburg won the event in a speedy 13.86. He won by a half second, and qualifies for the national high school honor roll in the event. In the 300 hurdles final, Bell finished seventh, running 39.75. Two state hurdle medals for the junior have Mustang fans excited for next year.
In the girls’ 3A 300 hurdles, Neshaminy’s Sanaa Hebron blitzed the field with an outstanding 41.85 effort, placing her in the national honor roll as well.
Gettysburg senior Anne Bair wrapped up her fine high school athletic career on Saturday, competing in the 3A long jump. Bair, who set the Gettysburg school record in the long jump last week at districts, came into the meet as the No. 7 seed. Bair’s jump of 17-11.25 last week broke Becky Lovett’s school mark, set way back in 1977. The long jump on Saturday was very competitive, with New Castle’s Maria Owens winning by just one inch with a jump of 18-10.25. Bair had a fine jump of 17-0, but she was still nearly four inches from earning a medal, as she finished 13th overall.
Bair graduates with school records, in the long jump, triple jump (37-10.5), and as a member of the 4 x 400 relay team (4:04.96). She will continue her academic and athletic careers at Manhattan University, where she will play basketball.
This was a state meet for breaking records. Jolena Quarzo of Brownsville, who won the 1600-meter run on Friday by seven seconds, blasted the 3200, again all by herself, to win in 10:19.41. She won by 27 seconds, and her time broke the 2A PIAA meet record set by her sister in 2007.
In the 3A 3200 race, Moon Area’s Mia Cochran pulled off the most amazing hat trick possible. Having won the 1600 on Friday, Cochran dominated the field in the 3200, going out in 5:04 at the 1600, on the way to a 3A state record of 10:13.62. Cochran then came back Saturday afternoon to also grab the gold in the 800. Her time of 2:11.26, after her 3200 effort, was nothing short of incredible.
Gary Martin of Archbishop Wood won the 3A 800 on Saturday after nearly breaking the four-minute mile on Friday. His 800 time of 1:51.24 had him smiling. Martin did not run the 3200, where he set a PIAA record last year, so Butler’s C.J. Singleton, who was second to Martin in the 1600, won with a national honor roll time of 8:57.73. He won the race, but did not beat Martin’s record.
Spring Grove’s Laila Campbell nearly had two state records. The sophomore defended both her 3A 100- and 200-meter dash titles, setting a PIAA record in the 100, and just missing the record in the 200. She ran 11.55 to destroy the field in the 100, and wasn’t challenged in the 200 either, winning in 23.56, just four hundredths off the record.
In the 2A girls’ shot put, Shenango’s Emma Callahan won by over seven feet with a mighty heave of 50-7.75, tying the state record. In the boys’ shot, Wyomissing’s J’Ven Williams had arguably the best performance of the meet in setting his own new state record. Winning the event by a whopping 10 feet, Williams threw the shot 66-7.75, beating the old state record by nearly two feet, and putting him on the national honor roll in the process. He had won the discus on Friday.
PIAA Track & Field Championships
Saturday - Shippensburg University
(Times Area athletes only)
300 hurdles: 1. Nugent (North Penn) 37.65, 2. Cantoral (Archbishop Ryan) 38.15, 3. Waters (Harrisburg) 38.63, 4. Faccio (Ephrata) 38.69, 5. Collins (Harry S. Truman) 38.98, 6. Davis (Canon-McMillan) 39.16, 7. Bernard Bell (SW) 39.75, 8. DeMatteo (Hampton) 40.03; 110 hurdles: 1. Waters (Harrisburg) 13.86, 2. Avertett (Souderton) 14.39, 3. Munro (Penncrest) 14.61, 4. Washington (Pottstown) 14.63, 5. Skinner (Fort Leboeuf) 14.84, 6. Conrad (Bishop McDevitt) 15.05, 7. Jones (Chambersburg) 15.07, 8. Bell (South Western) 15.07
3200: Aiken (Eden Christian) 9:13.47, 2. Strawser (East Juniata) 9:14.62, 3. Fluharty (Riverside) 9:20.37, 4. Smigo (Palisades) 9:20.68, 5. Sherry (Coudersport) 9:21.19, 6. Michell (Jenkintown) 9:23.14, 7. Hockenbury (Lake Lehman) 9:23.95, 8. Nicholls (Winchester Thurston) 9:27.35, 10. Matthew Nawn (Hanover) 9:36.63; 110 hurdles: 1. Rose (So. Columbia) 14.09, 2. Michael Carlson (Bermudian Springs) 14.67, 3. Britten (Trinity) 15.68, 4. McCraw (Steel-High) 15.19, 5. Votour (O.L. of Sacred Heart) 15.20, 6. Albright (Chestnut Ridge) 15.62, 7. Hagin (Troy) 15.82, 8. Robinson (Montgomery) 15.97
Long jump: 1. Owens (New Castle) 18-10.25, 2. Mullin (State College) 18-9.25, 3. Manson (Obama Academy) 18-3, 4. Bennett (Bishop McDevitt) 17-10.75, 5. Gee (North Penn) 17-6.5, 6. Tirko (Northern) 17-6, 7. Ioppolo (Wallenpaupack) 17-3.75, 8. Morrow (Butler) 17-3.75; 12. Anne Bair (Gettysburg) 17-0; High jump: 1. Mokonchu (Spring-Ford) 5-10, 2. Becker (Warwick) 5-9, 3. Maddie Lehker (South Western) 5-4, T4. Owens (New Castle) & Gormley (Methacton) 5-4; T6. Howard (So. Fayette) & Yost (Northwestern Lehigh) 5-4, T8. Scoblick (Abington Heights) & Laukus (Norwin) 5-2
Pole vault: 1. Dougher (Western Wayne) 11-6, 2. Norris (Susquehanna Community) 11-6, 3. Lily Carlson (Bermudian Springs) 11-6, 4. Brewer (Greensburg CC) 11-0, 5. Murray (Milton) 11-0, T6. Woodward (Trinity) & McGowan (Lakeview) 10-6, 8. Worthing (Bellwood Antis) 10-0; Triple jump: 1. Buxton (West Catholic) 37-6.75, 2. Bresnan (Reynolds) 37-2.25, 3. Russell (Cranberry) 37-2.25, 4. Alison Watts (Bermudian Springs) 37-1, 5. Carter (Carlynton) 37-0, 6. Hubler (Minersville) 36-10.75, 7. Wechsler (Susquenita) 36-9.25, 8. Hillegass (Chestnut Ridge) 36-4
For full results visit piaa.org