As the announcement echoed around the Clearfield High School Bison Sports Complex, Penns Valley’s Isabella Culver patiently waited to hear her time for the 400-meter run with teammate Sheri Bowersox and coach Kendyl Paolini.
She won with ease, but she has been tantalizingly close to the school record.
When her name was finally called with a time of 59.48 seconds, she let out a scream — of frustration.
She missed her Mountain League Championship meet record by one-hundredth of a second, which she set last year, and also was just off the school record of 59.3. She then bolted off into the parking lot for a couple minutes to blow off steam.
“This close,” she said, holding her thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart when she returned. “Ever since the beginning of freshman year, last year, I just keep working at it.”
The speedy sophomore wants that school record, set by Deneen Keller better than two decades ago.
Culver will have plenty more chances to chase the mark, but she provided one of many highlights for the Lady Rams at the league meet. Culver also won the 200 and helped the 1,600 relay team to a win, Rebecca Bierly also was a double winner in the 1,600 and 3,200 and Penns Valley finished second as a team for girls with 118 points. Clearfield won both the boys’ and girls’ titles with 151 and 123 points, respectively.
Bellefonte was third for both girls, with 78, and boys with 95. Bald Eagle Area tied for fourth for girls at 68 and Philipsburg-Osceola took eighth at 22, and the Penns Valley boys were fourth (92), BEA was fifth (43) and P-O was seventh (13).
Culver added her 200 time of 27.45 for her second win, and the 4x400 team of Bowersox, Marissa Stecko and Paige Kubalak were clocked in 4:22.17. Bowersox also finished second in the 400.
Culver wondered if she would have been a little better if it wasn’t such a damp, chilly day. The gloomy weather gave her a bit of a gloomy disposition.
“When the sun isn’t shining and it’s raining, I’m kind of gloomier,” Culver said. “You don’t really enjoy it as much. I don’t look forward to it.”
Stecko won the 100-meter dash in 13.94 and Jared Hurd won the 300 hurdles in 43.06 for the Penns Valley boys.
Bierly won the 1,600 in 5:36.14, well ahead of Bellefonte’s Amber Shirey, who finished second in 5:53. And the Lady Ram senior added a clocking of 11:43.04 in the 3,200. As if running three miles on the dreary day — she thought conditions were close to perfect for her — she then took a bunch of cool-down laps around the perimeter of the football field.
“My teammates joke with me, ‘Oh, you’re doing a workout after a workout,’” Bierly laughed. “I guess I am. It seems to be working.”
The senior, who plans to run at Lock Haven next season, is coming off a personal-best time at that school’s invitational last week in both events and has her eyes locked on making the PIAA meet in the 3,200.
Bellefonte’s Madison Marucci was ecstatic to win the shot put. She was better than a foot off her personal-best distance with her winning throw of 30 feet, 1 1/2 inches, but coming in as the third seed, finishing third last season and not delivering a good throw on her opening attempt had her worried.
“I didn’t start out well so I didn’t expect anything,” Marucci said. “I had been doing well this season, so I had hopes of getting first, but I just did what I could.”
It’s something that has been happening most of her high school career. She’s hoping to medal at the district meet in mid-May after not medaling there since her freshman year.
“I kind of freak myself out in shot put,” the senior said. “I do that all the time.”
She found a way to deal with the moist conditions, as did teammate and pole vaulter Nate Wert, who won by clearing 12 feet. It was more than a foot below his personal best, but more than enough for the win as he tried to deal with the conditions.
“There’s always that feeling that, ‘OK, my grip’s going to be a little wet,’” Wert said. “We’ve got towels to keep them dry, you can chalk your hands — that’s what I do.”
Wert has a new, longer pole for the final weeks of the season, hoping to get close to the school record and make a run at qualifying for the state meet.
Other Red Raider winners included Summer Shirey (triple jump, 32-10 1/2), Cole Hovis (400, 53.35) and Brett Pope (3,200, 9:57.67).
BEA’s lone winner was Mike Salvanish in the shot put. He had earlier struggled to a fifth-place finish in the discus, but fared much better on the slippery cement throwing circle for a winning throw of 42-6 1/2.
“I don’t really like the rain too much,” Salvanish said. “It makes it slippy. I don’t quite get the marks I want but I think I did good today.”
The best part was a good rivalry with Bellefonte’s Max Kroell, who took third in the shot put at 42-3, and Clearfield’s Matthew Collins, who broke the meet record in the discus at 175-5.
“It’s fun throwing against them,” Salvanish said.
Alyssa Packer took second in the 300 hurdles in 51.01 to highlight the day for the Lady Eagles, and P-O was paced by Julia Burns (fourth, shot put, 29-1) and Dane Soltys with a pair of thirds (triple jump, 37-3; high jump, 5-8).