Tuesday was a less-than-ideal day for a track and field meet.
It was damp, heavy rains earlier in the day made everything soggy and with winds picking up, it made the chill in the air bite a little more.
For State College’s Kellin Valentine and Megan Fry, it would take a lot more than a little chill to spoil their week.
The pair just found out each has qualified for the Penn Relays.
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They will compete at the country’s oldest and largest track meet at Franklin Field in Philadelphia from April 23-25.
“It’s one thing to look at it from the top of the stands, you’re looking down and everyone seems so small,” said Valentine, a junior who will compete in the long jump. “To be a part of it, I’ve been a part of the relays, but I’ve always wanted to do it for jumping — I’m a jumper. I just think it’s going to be such a wonderful opportunity. It’s probably going to be one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Valentine, who was a part of relay teams at the meet each of the last two seasons, found out Tuesday morning he was in the field. He follows the footsteps of Bryce Williams, who was in the triple jump there last spring. Fry found out Monday she will be in the pole vault.
The big meet dates to 1895 and draws more than 22,000 entries from across the U.S. and 60 countries. Valentine is one of 20 entrants in high school boys’ long jump, with only half his field from the U.S. Nine are from Jamaica and another is from the Bahamas.
Fry is in a field of 23 in the pole vault, with all of her competitors Americans.
“It’s not the goal, but it’s a big carrot,” boys’ coach Rusty McCrea said. “That’s the big thing. Hopefully you teach kids to work hard, they come out (to practices and meets) for years and if they have a chance to qualify, it’s a big deal.”
Fry will be making her first trip to the meet in Philadelphia, and will be the first pole-vaulter since 2001 from State College to compete.
“I’ve never been there so I don’t know, but talking to my coaches, it’s even bigger than nationals,” Fry said. “It’s going to be crazy and I’m looking forward to it.”
“Megan has worked so hard and is super-dedicated and disciplined,” coach Jenn Evans said. “She has such high aspirations, this is just icing on the cake for her.”
The pair will be joined by the 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams, and they find out next Monday if the 3,200 relay teams also earn invitations.
Valentine won the long jump Tuesday with a top leap of 19 feet, 6 inches. He also finished second in the triple jump at 41-5 1/2 and helped two relay teams earn wins. The 4x100 team of Tristan Daman, Noah Woods, Max Herbst and Valentine won in 44.9 seconds, and the foursome of Valentine, Josh Rickley, Alex Milligan and Woods won in 3:41.4.
“We’re getting warmed up for when it gets warmer,” Valentine said. “We’re just getting back into the track spirit.”
The State College girls and boys both dominated Mifflin County in a Mid Penn Conference meet Tuesday, with the Lady Little Lions winning 94-56 and the State College boys prevailing 108-42.
The meet was supposed to be a tri-meet, also including Altoona, but the forecast of rain prompted the Mountain Lions to call early afternoon to cancel their participation.
“We’d like to see them because it raises our level too,” McCrea said.
Fry, who is altering her approach down the runway from indoor to outdoor vaulting, has a year’s-best of 11-7 but cleared just 10-3 Tuesday. Kinsey Thompson won at 10-9.
The Little Lion boys won all but five events Tuesday, led by double winners Daman and Erik Ebel. Daman sprinted to wins in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, with times of 11.2 and 22.8 seconds, respectively. Ebel won the shot put at 44 feet and the javelin at 147-3.
Other winners included Tyler Smith (300 hurdles, 43.0), Alex Milligan (800, 2:03.1), Matt Beyerle (3,200 10:00.3), Greg Miller (discus, 136-5) and Griffin Thompson (pole vault, 12-9).
Veronika Karpenko, Rachel Wylie and Taylor Givens led the Lady Little Lions with two wins apiece. Wylie was the top hurdler, taking the 100 in 16.2 and the 300 in 46.8. Givens was fastest in the 100-meter dash in 12.8 and the high jump, clearing 4-8. Karpenko swept the long (14-10 1/2) and triple (33-4 1/4) jumps.
Also, Natasha Fedkina was first in the 800 (2:27.3), Haley Crawford took the 200 (27.0), Sarah Almarzooqi won the 3,200 (12:22.4), Jordan Bair took the shot put (34-5) and Kinsey Thompson was tops in the pole vault (10-9).
State College also swept all three relays, with Fedkina, Ellie Mhando, Julia Neely and Adelyn Hardy in the 3,200 relay (10:29.9); Emma Domico, Givens, Wylie and Crawford in the 400 relay (50.6); and Jordi Rohrbach, Wylie, Fedkina and Zoe Wicks in the 1,600 relay (4:14.5).
“Dual meets are always, for us, a great opportunity to see a lot of our younger kids compete in different events and see where their true talents may lie,” Evans said. “Mifflin County is a great competitor and they come at us hard, but for our schedule and what we do, our focus is typically on the bigger meets. Dual meets are a great place to get experience and get race-ready.”