SHIPPENSBURG — Bryce Williams was trying to focus on the positive.
It wasn’t the medal he wanted, and it wasn’t quite the performance he wanted, but it was still an improvement.
With the only medal awarded Friday to a Centre County athlete during the first day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships, Williams finished third in the triple jump.
“That’s the way it goes,” Williams said. “I have to move on, look forward to the future.”
The future is not that far off: He and his State College teammates will be back on the track at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium on Saturday morning in a number of events with plenty more medals to be corralled.
Advancing to finals for the Little Lions were Will Cather in the 800-meter run, Jon Smith in the 300 hurdles and the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relay teams. On the Lady Little Lions’ side, their 3,200 team also made the finals along with Natasha Fedkina in the 800 and Hannah Catalano in the 1,600. Rachel Wylie, in the 100 hurdles, and Haley Crawford, in the 200, advanced to the morning semifinals.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Smith, also a member of the 1,600 relay team. “We got a lot of people in the finals today, so we’re feeling very good.”
Williams entered the meet with the top seeded distance in the triple jump, but he had to look at the bright side after falling short. A year ago a quad injury kept him from performing his best and he didn’t medal.
He uncorked his best jump on his second attempt at 47 feet, 7 1/4 inches, a foot short of what he covered last week at the District 6 meet.
“This is my senior year, last time I’m going to triple jump here in a high school uniform,” Williams said. “I definitely wanted to put out my best. I feel like I did.”
His best jump came immediately after AJ Stevens of Pottsville hit 47-9, and the pair entered the final round of three jumps 1-2. Stevens later went longer at 47-11 3/4, but both were eventually passed by Carlisle freshman Deshawn Millington’s 48-6 1/2.
Williams had one more chance to take the lead on his last attempt, but just barely stepped over the line to scratch out despite a long jump that may have been good enough to win.
“It’s a lesson and I have to move on,” said Williams, who will jump for Penn State next year. “Definitely all these jumpers are really good jumpers, athletes. I’m still pleased to get on the medal stand because not many people get to be on the medal stand. I wish I would have done more, but I’m happy with what I’ve done.”
The day began with a pair of incredibly strong showings from the Little Lion 3,200 relay teams.
The Lady Little Lions’ 4x800 team of Fedkina, Catalano, Emma Cousins and Victoria Crawford turned in the fastest preliminary time of any girls team at 9:12.80.
The time and finishing place were big surprises after entering the morning seeded No. 11.
“We are so excited for finals,” Cousins said. “We thought it might be kind of tight, but we got in by a (good time). I’m real excited for tomorrow.”
The boys followed a little later by matching that feat, also posting the top time of 7:52.25 to make the finals with the team of Chris Golembeski, Kyle Adams, Mason Post and Cather.
Cather later turned in a time of 1:54.53 in his heat of the 800 meters, finishing second overall.
Teammate Kyle Adams was eighth in his 800 heat in 1:57.62, falling just short of the 12-runner field for Saturday’s finals.
Smith was timed in 39.58 during his turn in the 300 hurdles, finishing second in his heat and making the eight-runner final.
“I’m very excited,” Smith said. “My race, I did not start off as well as usual because I changed some things in practice, but I’m excited to implement those things (Saturday) and really show what State High can do.”
Smith, Post, Adams and Cather then finished their long day, which began about nine hours earlier, by winning their heat of the 1,600 relay in 3:22.79.
“I’m feeling pretty good, better than I thought I’d feel after all this,” Cather said. “I’m ready for (Saturday). I’m excited for it. Hopefully a team title afterwards.”
Cather will have to run in three state finals Saturday.
“This is it — go for broke,” he said. “This is the last meet of the season. I’ve been training for this all year and this is where we give it our all.”
“He’ll be fine tomorrow,” Adams chimed in. “He’s our iron man.”
State College turned in a strong time in the 4x100 relay, with Tristan Daman, Max Herbst, Noah Woods and Kellin Valentine clocking in at 43.24 and finishing second in their heat, but it ended up being 0.20 seconds short of the last spot in Saturday’s finals.
“We just had our mind set on winning,” Valentine said. “We were going for it.”
Valentine also finished 11 th in the triple jump, with a top leap of 45-4.
Rachel Wylie raced to a time of 15.04 seconds, finishing fourth in her heat in the 100 hurdles, to make the morning semifinals.
Hannah Catalano covered the 1,600 in 5:06.51, finishing fifth in her heat and advancing to the finals.
Haley Crawford had a time of 25.84 in the 200 preliminaries to make the Saturday morning semifinals.
Earlier she was seventh in her 100 heat in 12.76, while her older sister Victoria was fourth in her 400 heat in 59.02. Wylie was sixth in her 300 hurdles heat in 47.49, while Emily Randolph was fourth in her session of the same event in 45.87, and neither was able to advance.
Victoria Crawford closed the day with Kaelyn Yoder, Olivia Watkins and Chandley Book in the 1,600 relay, finishing in 4:06.75. Also, Veronika Karpenko took 12 th in the long jump, covering 17-4.
Alex Milligan clocked a 4:26.61 in the 1,600 and Post was clocked in 50.06 in the 400 to place third in his heat.
Penns Valley’s Gino Nicosia was 11th in his 800 heat with a time of 2:06.82.
“They went out really fast,” Nicosia said. “My coach told me they went out fast, but it was like four seconds faster than what he thought. I ran a good split, I came in 57 seconds the first lap, I felt good, but then I got to the 500-meter mark and it was awful. My legs are so tired.”
Bald Eagle Area’s Nathan Styles took fourth in his 400 heat in 51.84, and Bryce Greene was eighth in his 200 heat in 23.70.
Those two returned in the 4x400 preliminaries, joined by Brian Greene and Dakota Bartley and took fourth in their heat in 3:32.96.
Making its debut at the PIAA meet was St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.
The 1,600 relay team ended the day by taking seventh in their heat, with Kasim Buey, Brian Hackman, Mikey Kresovich and Charlie Ross timed in 3:42.01.
Earlier, Hackman rounded the track in 4:34.83 in the AA 1,600 and did not advance to the finals.
“It’s tough. I came out and ran really poorly,” Hackman said. “I’m kind of disappointed, but it’s tough. The competition’s tough. For a lot of people, it’s a tough place to handle. I was kind of nervous, but not as nervous as I expected to be.”