Earlier this week, State College’s Stanley Hamilton saw his brother — who attends St. Joseph’s — qualify for the PIAA championships in two events.
The Little Lions’ sophomore needed to go, too. “Who can let your younger brother be better than you at everything?” Hamilton asked, referring to Lance Hamilton, who finished a pair of Class 2A gold medals.
The older Hamilton brother followed State College teammate Brandon Clark on Thursday for a 1-2 finish in the triple jump to join the big Little Lion contingent heading to Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium on May 26-27.
Clark, Hamilton and seven other district champions helped State College defend its District 6 Class 3A title Thursday night at Mansion Park, finishing with 185.5 points to hold off Altoona’s 180.
Thanks to four top-4 finishers, Bellefonte took fifth as a team with 44 points.
Other State College winners included Ben Oesterling (400 meters), Nick Feffer (800), Owen Wing (1,600), Mitchell Etter (3,200), Luke Knipe (pole vault) and the 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams.
“I’m really proud that the rest of the team stepped up and we picked up some key points,” Nick Feffer said. “We had our first, second and third guys scoring in multiple events, so we were really happy with the team performance.”
It was certainly a satisfying day for Clark and Stanley Hamilton in the triple jump. Clark posted the jump to beat on his very first attempt at 46 feet, 6 1/4 inches — a personal-best. Clark credited listening to his coach to stretch his muscles more Thursday, as well as having his teammate competing with him.
“It’s fantastic having him,” Clark said of Hamilton. “I like having him around, pushing me.”
Hamilton hit his best mark on his fourth try at 45-3 1/4, which surpassed the state-qualifying standard and also was a personal-best. It also was 13 inches better than his brother watching on the other side of the fence.
“All the time we’re working our together, doing hills, running long distances,” Hamilton said. “It’s been cool having that person right by my side every step of the way, pushing me, because I’ve got to stay ahead of him.”
A couple other Little Lions got tested well.
Wing took the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 23.09 seconds, but he and Mifflin County’s Chayce Macknair were stride-for-stride for the final 50 meters, with Wing barely holding on at the finish line.
“I knew Chayce was going to be going for the state standard, which was 4:24, and I knew he would be right there with me the whole time,” Wing said. “It helps having that kind of competition.”
Earlier, Wing joined Chris DiPerna and Joey and Nick Feffer to take the 3,200 relay in 8:36.73. Wing and Nick Feffer will be returning to Shippensburg looking to defend their state title from a year ago in that event.
A little later, Nick Feffer also had Mifflin County’s Seth Phillips hot on his heels, with the Little lion just ahead of the Husky over the final stretch to win in 1:54.50, as both also qualified for the PIAAs.
“I knew Seth was gearing up for the race,” Feffer said. “I was expecting the challenge, I didn’t expect to run as fasst as we did, but I’m really happy that there’s the competition that pushed me to a faster time.”
Feffer joined his brother Joey, Oesterling and Chase Longenecker to close the day with the final win to lock up the team title, taking the 1,600 relay in 3:28.32.
It was a little redemption for Longenecker, who stumbled at the second hurdle in the 110-meter high hurdles and finished eighth, then stumbled again down the stretch in the 300 hurdles and tripped another runner as he fell. That resulted in Altoona’s Treyvaugn Toney running a second 300 hurdles race by himself at the end of the meet to qualify for the PIAAs.
Oesterling added his 400 win in 50.63, and Etter took the 3,200 in 9:32.10. Knipe then added a win in the pole vault, clearing a personal-best 14-9 — nine inches better than he had ever done before.
“I was feeling pretty good,” said Knipe, who hopes to break 15 feet in Shippensburg. “I was a little bit of an underdog, but all the old winners from previous year came back to cheer me on, so I definitely got energy from that.”
Bellefonte was paced by Brett Pope taking third in the 3,200, Nate Wert in third in the pole vault, Moryelle Fernandez with a fourth in the triple jump, and James Boland rising to a surprise second in the discus at 140-7.
“Considering this was only my second year out, I couldn’t be any happier,” said Boland, who will join the mason’s union after he graduates. “That was great.”