ALTOONA — On a cold, rainy day at Altoona’s Mansion Park, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Timothy Eason didn’t get off to the best of starts.
The junior, who wasn’t even sure he wanted to run track this season, got hemmed in early during the 800 meters during Tuesday’s District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championships.
Eventually, Eason (2:03.97) maneuvered through the herd, found some daylight and finished third to qualify for the PIAA Championships on May 24th at Shippensburg.
“Well, if you let the weather get to you you’re going to run a terrible time,” Eason said. “But as long as you just focus it’s not too bad.”
It was a nasty day for all competitors with weather that challenged not only bodies, but also minds. However, participants seemed to vary on the weather’s influence.
Bellwood Antis took first in the overall team points, while Tyrone and Richland took second and third respectively. Bald Eagle Area finished 15th and Philipsburg-Osceola was 23rd.
Eason, who qualified for the state meet for the first time, said he’s gotten used to the weather and it didn’t influence him much.
“I felt really good,” Eason said between panting breaths after his race. “I just wanted to get third and I had a lot of energy coming out of the second lap so I just kicked then.”
However, for Bald Eagle Area’s Darrin Struble, slippery conditions are not ideal for the pole vault.
The sophomore finished sixth this season after a ninth place finish as a freshman.
“It’s really hard when it’s raining because the track’s wet and the pole’s wet,” Struble said. “When you plant there is a lot of pressure on your foot and it could slip out and send you into the metal pit … or when you vault it could slip right out of your hands…”
Luckily for Struble he didn’t have any mishaps.
Gage Hilderbrand didn’t seem to mind the weather at all. In fact, he preferred the conditions.
The sophomore from Bald Eagle Area finished 16th in the 800 meters.
“It’s not bad,” Hilderbrand said. “I prefer cooler temperatures any way. When it gets too hot you get cottonmouth and that’s not fun,” he said with a laugh. “I mean the rain, no one likes rain, but I still like the cooler temperatures better.”
The dampness didn’t seem to faze Eason either. He said because the weather has been bad all season he’s found a technique that has helped him.
Eason likes to clear his mind just before the race and focus on one thing, blocking out everything else, weather included.
That focus was lacking for Eason however before the season began. “I wasn’t sure I was going to do track this year,” Eason said. “It’s a tough sport and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it mentally.”
Ultimately, it was fear of regret that led him through this season. “You only get one chance and if you never do it you’ll never know how good you were. (Now) Oh yeah, it’s definitely worth it.”
Bald Eagle Area head coach Jeff Jodon hopes his young team eventually will reach its potential.
Jodon is optimistic about Zach Moody, a junior who finished eighth in the 800 and fourth in the 1,600 meters.
“He’s a leader and he works hard, and good things come to those who work hard,” Jodon said.
Jacob Ilgen finished seventh in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 110 hurdles for BEA. Hunter Hall finished sixth in the discus (125-11) and Dion Barnard finished eighth in the long jump (19-3). Nathan Style finished fifth in the 400 meters.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Collin Maurer finished seventh in the triple jump (40-8.5)
Stephen Forstmeier finished 10th in the 3200 for St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.