Owen Wing can be excused for being a little frustrated over the years.
The State College senior has always been a pretty good distance runner but, in eighth grade, Little Lion junior high track coaches convinced Nick Feffer to change from sprinting to running the 800 meters. After that, “pretty good” often didn’t lead to first place anymore.
“He killed me in eighth grade, killed me in ninth, beat me in 10th grade and 11th — and he’s fast now,” Wing said.
Needless to say, Feffer’s got a bit of speed, and there are a lot of other runners around the state who also are tired of seeing Feffer’s back by the end of races.
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They’ll all get one last chance to sprint past Feffer, as both he and Wing lead a sizable contingent of Centre County runners into the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium on Friday and Saturday. The meet begins at 9 a.m. both days.
For Feffer, the weekend brings an end to an impressive high school running career.
He has a fifth-place medal in the 800 from last year, a state title in the 3,200 relay, a third-place medal in that same relay when he was a sophomore and school records broken in that relay during each of the past two state championships.
When he’s not running, the senior leader encourages his teammates — some of whom have been running with him even longer than Wing — and, when he is on the track, he tends to make it all look easy.
“We see what he’s doing and we think, ‘Why can’t we do that too?’” said Joey Feffer, Nick’s younger brother and another member of the 3,200 relay team, along with Wing and Chris DiPerna. “He’s leading the workouts all the time.”
Feffer discovered even before reaching high school that he was a natural. Since he sprinted so much on the soccer pitch, his friends convinced him to give track a try. He initially wanted to become a pole vaulter, but the coach of that event persuaded him to also take a shot at the 800.
In his first meet, he competed in both — and beat all of his more established teammates in the 800, including Wing.
Feffer still felt nervous in those early races, but not anymore. Even while competing in huge stadiums with some of the nation’s top runners — in meets such as the Penn Relays and Millrose Games — Feffer said he no longer shies away from the spotlight.
“I haven’t gotten butterflies since I was a sophomore,” said Feffer, who is ranked 13th in the state, regardless of class, in the 800 at 1 minute, 54.50 seconds, according to MileSplit.com. Based only on district races around the state, he is seeded sixth.
“Competing in all those big races as a sophomore and junior made that all go away. I was really stressed out at Penn Relays the first time I was there. Those other races are icing on the cake. These (state championships) are the meets we value way more.”
The relaxed, competitive fire will be taking him places beyond this week as well. Feffer is set to enroll at Dartmouth and run for the Big Green.
This weekend, however, Feffer and his teammates have state medals on their minds.
“It’s going to be good,” Joey Feffer said. “It’s pretty much what our whole season since the beginning of November has been gearing toward. We just want to leave it all out on the track.”
Actually, Nick Feffer has been waiting since the end of last May to take one last shot at a state title, one he can claim all his own after taking part in relay and team championships last spring.
“I kind of marked it on my calendar to win the thing,” Feffer said. “It’s been in the back of my mind that I think I can do it if I have the right race.”
Follow Gordon Brunskill on Twitter with live updates throughout the meet: @GordonCDT
Centre County competitors at the PIAA Track and Field Championships
May 26-27 at Shippensburg University
Class 2A Girls
Sera Mazza, St. Joe’s, 1,600
Isabella Culver, PV, 400
Rebecca Bierly, PV, 3,200
Penns Valley 1,600 relay
Class 2A Boys
Lance Hamilton, St. Joe’s, long jump, triple jump
Zach Decarmine, St. Joes, 300 hurdles
Michael Peters, St. Joe’s, 800
Dane Soltys, P-O, high jump
Class 3A Girls
Taylor Givens, SC, 100, triple jump, long jump
Zoe Wicks, SC, 400
Esther Seeland, SC, 800
Catherine Curtin, SC, 1,600
Emma Simon, SC, 3,200
Jordi Rohrbach, SC, 300 hurdles
SC 1,600 relay
SC 3,200 relay
Jordan Bair, SC, shot put, discus
Lyndsey Reed, SC pole vault
Lily Pluter, SC, pole vault
Class 3A Boys
Ben Oesterling, SC 400
Nick Feffer, SC, 800
Owen Wing, SC, 1,600
Mitchell Etter, SC, 3,200
SC 1,600 relay
SC 3,200 relay
Brandon Clark, SC, triple jump
Stanley Hamilton, SC, triple jump
Luke Knipe, SC, pole vault