Heavy with medals

SHIPPENSBURG — One lost to a runner heading on scholarship to Connecticut, while another was behind someone headed to Tennessee, and possibly the Olympic trials.

They may not have been completely thrilled they did not pick up a gold medal, but it is hard to beat that kind of competition at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.

State College produced several medal winners in Class AAA, with Alex Kenney taking third in the 200-meter dash and fifth in the 100, while he and the 400 relay team took seventh and Chloe Schmidt raced to fourth-place finishes in both the 800 and 1,600. Also, Bald Eagle Area’s Tim Watson took a surprise third in the discus and Penns Valley’s Sarah Montminy was seventh in the 800 while teammate Matt Brooker was eighth in the 3,200.“This is the state meet and you’ve got to give it everything you’ve got,” said State College’s Emmitt Terrel, who ran the second leg on the 400 relay team. “We feel pretty good about seventh.”

Watson’s finish carries on a growing tradition of BEA strength in the throwing events. The Eagles have turned out five gold medals and eight total medals in the last decade, not to mention at least one PIAA qualifier nearly every year and often multiple competitors. Two others, Tyler Hoffman and Amanda Mondock, were showing their skills this weekend.

“We have a good tradition of throwers and earlier in the season I broke a school record,” Watson said. “That throw I knew would do good at states so right then I knew, and that put a lot of pressure on that I had to come down here and perform well.”The senior only managed a throw of 144 feet during the preliminary round, fouling on his second and third throws, but managed to unload a toss of 152 feet, 11 inches in the finals.

“I knew coming in that I could get a good throw and get up there,” Watson said. “As it went on, I was in finals, I was fifth to go into finals and I ended up third. It just feels really good.”Watson’s fouls came from stepping out of the throwing circle, unlike much of his competition, who had trouble keeping their discuses inside the throwing sector.

“I had a little too much drive through the center,” said Watson, who plans to attend Penn State in the fall and hopes to walk on with either the wrestling or track teams. “My foot was barely grazing. I’ve got to work on my balance, I guess.”Hoffman finished 17th in the discus at 128-6 and Mondock was 13th in the shot put at 37-4 to match her Friday finish in the discus.As for Kenney and Schmidt, the runners ahead of them were just too darned fast.

In the 200, Kenney was running in second down the straightaway but was caught at the line by a familiar foe --- Altoona’s Aaron Nadolsky.“There are no excuses,” Kenney said. “He ran a better time. I couldn’t do anything about it. … He must have gotten it by a thousandths (of a second) or something.”

In the lane to Kenney’s right, however, was Neshaminy’s Kevin Steinberg, who had the only time better than Kenney in Friday’s preliminaries. Steinberg had a rocket start and won with ease at 21.44 seconds to 21.75 for Kenney and Nadolsky.

“That dude is crazy,” Kenney said of Steinberg. “You saw his 100 time — 10.58. He’s got a scholarship to UConn. He’s got skills. It’s a pleasure to run with him.”

Steinberg actually finished second in the 100 with that time, one-hundredth behind Peabody’s Pierre Carr, while Kenney ran a 10.82, which is .02 off his school record. The Little Lion sophomore also posted semifinal times of 10.94 in the 100 and 21.92 in the 200.In between the 100 and 200, Kenney anchored the 400 relay with Phil Hartman, Moses Mbeseha and Terrel. The team was seeded fifth and had high expectations, but they were a half-second slower in Saturday’s finals at 43.29 than their school-record time in the District 6 meet, and the disappointment showed on their faces when they walked to the medal stand on the Seth Grove Stadium infield.

Terrel, however, shook off the disappointment by finding a silver lining.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” he said. “This is what it’s all about: Having fun, running fast and getting to bond with the team a little bit.”Schmidt had her own college-bound foes with whom to contend.

Her day started with the 1,600, when she knocked another second off her personal-best to finish in 4:59.39 and took fourth in a four-way battle for second place. They all were chasing Neely Spence, who is home-schooled in Shippensburg and will attend the university in the fall for a year before heading off to Baylor.

The competition was even tougher in the 800. Again Schmidt was in a tight battle with a large group of girls, ending up fourth in 2:13.09, but way ahead was Easton’s Chanelle Price. The Tennessee-bound runner turned in a stunning 2:02.90, which is not only a state record but a National Federation High School record. The old mark was 2:04.50, set by New Jersey’s Joetta Clark in 1980.Schmidt knew even before the start a win was unlikely.

“They ran better out in front,” Schmidt said. “That’s not exactly what I was going for, but yeah, it would be hard to keep up with them.”As a freshman, the trip was a learning experience as much as anything.

“I just wanted to go out and run the race and see how it turned out,” Schmidt said. “It turned out there was a pack of racers behind the lead runner so I just tried to stay in that.”

Montminy’s race was a rough one, leaving her with blood trickling down her right calf after a 2:17.24 turn around the track in the 800.“From the beginning I knew it was my last race and I had to put it all out there,” the senior said. “The field just gets tougher every year and it’s so tight the whole time. A girl fell down right behind me, I got spiked in the leg. It was intense and I just had to give it everything I had in every 100 because it was the last time I’d be doing it.”

The race was won by Lewisburg’s Kalyn Fisher in 2:12.35 as the Lady Ram matched her spot on the medal stand from 2007.“I wanted to at least get higher than last year if not match it,” Montminy said. “I’m happy with it. I wish it could have been higher but it was a great field.”

Brooker finished eighth in 9:42.98, seven seconds off his school-record time at the District 6 championships, in the 3,200. He got boxed in near the back of the pack for the first lap, but that was not his biggest problem.

“I don’t really know what happened. I think I might have peaked at districts,” Brooker said. “I just felt like crap today.”The Ram junior finished 31 seconds behind Bishop McDevitt’s Joe Beveridge.

“My season goal was to place and I did,” Brooker said. “I’m not mad. I’m just indifferent, I guess. I’ve got to train a lot in the offseason and hopefully improve my times for next year.”

Among other Saturday competitors, State College freshman Tesia Chuderewicz was 22nd in 11:52.41 in the girls’ AAA 3,200 and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kaylee Adams was 24th in the AA triple jump at 34-0 1/2.