High school track & field: St. Joseph’s Urban has rough start to state track meet

Who says track and field isn’t a contact sport?

Eli Urban had plenty of proof just seconds into his time on the track Friday morning at the PIAA Championships.

Right after the starting gun was fired in the 3,200-meter relay, an elbow from a competitor was raised into Urban’s midsection, causing him to tumble to the ground at Seth Grove Stadium.

The race was immediately stopped, and everyone was brought back to the starting line while one of the PIAA officials checked on Urban.

“I was glad we got a restart,” Urban said. “I was going to have a heck of a time trying to catch up after I fell.”

Urban inspected all of his wounds, finding a big raspberry on his elbow and arm, and another down his leg. There also was blood dripping from one of his fingers.

“I didn’t even know this one happened,” Urban said of the finger. “I still don’t feel it.”

He shook his head over all the wounds.

“Oh, it’s gonna hurt tomorrow,” Urban groaned.

Urban, Michael Peters, Charlie Ross and Brian Hackman finished the race in 9:16.52, finishing 13th in their preliminary heat, and did not advance to the finals, but Urban didn’t think his bumps and bruises affected his run — or will impact his race Saturday morning in the 3,200 final.

“I kind of walked into this almost expecting something like this to happen,” Urban said. “This is the end of the season so I’m going to go all out. If you’ve got someone cutting in front of you, stuff like that happens.”

Going out in Styles

Bald Eagle Area’s lone representative this year had a very short stay. His work day was done in 52.31 seconds in the Class AA boys’ 400 preliminaries, and he did not advance to the finals.

“Senior year, I’m done here and moving on,” Styles said. “When we sit (on the infield before a race) for half an hour, all our warm-up is basically gone. We’re pretty much cold already.”

It also was disappointing he had to make the trip alone. Last year he had three other members of the 1,600 relay team to keep him company. He barely met his assigned roommate — and never learned his name.

“Last year was a lot better,” Styles said. “I was more excited. This year is kind of like depressing. It’s my last year, I wanted to run good, but I didn’t run as well as I wish I would have. You take what life gives you.”

Styles will soon be heading to military, joining the Army and heading to basic training Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

Learning experience

There are always lessons from one state track meet to appearance to the next, and information is passed along. Some things are important, like maintaining emotions and getting used to the big crowds and talented competition.

But there are other, smaller things that can make the meet more enjoyable — and successful.

What did State College’s Veronika Karpenko learn after last year’s third-place finish in the triple jump?

“Always bring your white noise machine,” the junior said. “Dorms are the worst.”

Anything else?

“Bring a fan,” Karpenko said. “Again, dorms are the worst.”

She and roommate Rachel Wylie, who ran in the 100 and 300 hurdles, made sure to be well prepared this time, and the team van was packed solid for the two nights spent in the Shippensburg University housing.

“We suffered pretty badly last year,” Karpenko said. “No sleep on the one day.”

As it turned out, they didn’t need to pack so much.

“We got a good dorm this time,” she said. “We didn’t even need it. We lucked out.

Future Nittany Lions

Penn State has a number of football recruits competing this weekend. The top performance so far came from Kittanning’s Nick Bowers, who took second in the shot put at 54 feet, 8 inches.

In the 100-meter dash, Shaquan Barkley of Whitehall advanced to the semifinals, finishing third in his heat in 11.58 seconds.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic junior Damar Hamlin, who being chased by the Nittany Lions, finished 24 th at 42-2 ¼.

The Woodland Hills 400 relay team had Miles Sanders among its members and was timed in 43.32 and did not advance to Saturday’s finals.