For the last four years, Penns Valley coach Lynda Federinko has met individually with her track and field athletes before the season.
They discuss their personal goals and team goals.
This year, everyone had the same goal for the Lady Rams. To win the Mountain League title with an undefeated record. Penns Valley achieved that feat, finishing the regular season with a 7-0 league record.
“That's a big goal of our team,” Penns Valley’s Chelsea Emel said. “The last couple years we've lost to Clearfield and it's been a big goal of ours to go undefeated and beat them and be Mountain League champions. It means a lot to all of us.”
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Though the Lady Rams already celebrated their regular-season championship and went into Wednesday’s Mountain League Championship meet focused more on preparing for the district meet, Penns Valley took the team title with a score of 119, edging Clearfield’s score of 112. Emel won the discus with a throw of 104 feet and finished second in the shot put with a throw of 36 feet, eight inches. Alyssa Limbaugh took first in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:08.37, and Kayla Bracken finished first in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.91. Destiny Andrus and Anna Bair finished second (13.21) and third (13.56) in the 100, respectively. Andrus also finished fourth in the 200 (28.39 and second in the 400 (1:02.90). Naomi Olsen-Zelman was second in the 100 hurdles (18.06) and second in the 300 hurdles (50.79). Ayla Olsen-Zelman finished second in the long jump (15-2.25), and Kylie Orndorff was fourth in the javelin (98-11).
That balanced effort of top finishers carried the Lady Rams all season.
“We have depth this year,” Federinko said. “I could call on a lot of different girls for different events and it was just depth.”
In the boys, Bald Eagle Area finished second with a team score of 100, just behind champion Clearfield’s 106.
The Eagles’ strong showing came after going 2-5 in league meets during the regular season.
Bald Eagle Area coach Jeff Jodon said the pieces are finally starting to fall in place for his team, which includes baseball players Bryce and Bryan Greene and Dakota Bartley.
Those three and Nathan Styles were part of the 400 relay team, which took first with a time of 45.54. Hunter Hall won the discus (140-11) and Eagles teammates Tanner Cramer finished second (127-9). Cramer also grabbed second in the shot put (44-10), beating teammate David Gawaryla, who was third (43-2). Styles finished first in the 400 (53.15) and third in the 200 (24.42). Zach Moody was second in the 800 (2:07.89) behind Penns Valley’s Gino Nicosia (2:03.83) in addition to placing second in the 1,600 (4:41.38) and second in the 3,200 (10:38.92).
“I'll tell you what, two guys and I don't think they get enough recognition is Zach Moody and Nate Styles,” Jodon said. “They have been the stalwarts all season long. I mean Nate was one of the top 100, 200, 400 sprinters in the league. He gave it his all. He's been running four events all season long. Zach Moody's been running the 800, 1,600, 3,200, he gets a drink of water, he steps back on the track and he's on the 4 by 400 (relay team). I'll tell you what, really, really, really tough kids. Like I said, they put their heart and soul into the betterment of the team.”
Other area winners for boys included Philipsburg-Osceola’s Collin Maurer in the 110 hurdles (16.61); Penns Valley’s Bryan Wasson in the long jump (19-1.5); Philipsburg-Osceola’s Nick Patrick in the pole vault (11-0). Area winners in girls’ included Bellefonte’s Anya Hoaglund in the 1,600 (5:39.41); Bellefonte’s Brooke Shirey in the triple jump (31-8.75) and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Tiffany Bertothy in the javelin (108-7).
Bellefonte’s Mitchell Grasser won the javelin (142-4) and took first in the shot put (51-3).
Grasser wrapped up his second straight undefeated season in the shot put in Mountain League competition with his career-best throw.
He surpassed the 50-feet mark for the first time on his third throw, which traveled 50 feet, 6 inches. Grasser then unleased the throw of 51-3 in his fourth attempt to seal the win.
“It was really surreal I guess,” Grasser said. “I didn't think the first one was over 50 feet. But then when it was, I was sort of like, ‘Alright, let's let the last one rip,’ put everything I got into it. And I did. It was a lot of fun.”
It was his last time throwing javelin before he focuses on discus and shot put for districts, and he made the most of to earn the win.
Emel didn’t record her best throw, but she was happy to take the girls’ discus title. Her throw of 36-8 in the shot put was good for second and fell just short of breaking her school record.
“I was an inch away,” Emel said. “It would have been nice to add on to that school record, but it was still a good accomplishment to get 36-8 right before districts and that way I can focus more on disc and getting my form down and working on technique for shot, reconfiguring that altogether.”
After pulling her hamstring at the West Central Coaches Invitational on Friday, she’s looking to get some rest and refocus on her technique before districts, where she’s determined to qualify for states this year after missing it by one place in shot put last season.
Said Emel: “I’m dead set on going there this year.”