The State College boys’ track and field team won every track race from the 400 and up Thursday at the District 6 Class AAA meet.
But no race was more exciting than the 1,600 meter relay, where State College edged Hollidaysburg and Altoona by almost half a second.
It was the first and only event for leadoff runner Josh Rickley. When Rickley handed off the baton to Nick Feffer, he was in a deadlock with Altoona and Holidaysburg. Feffer got the lead, but was barely able to hang on as he passed the baton to Alex Milligan.
The team had faith in Milligan, who needed this race to tie a bow on his already successful day. Earlier in the meet, he became the 1,600 meter champion as he raced to a 4:22.82 finish despite twisting his ankle. That didn’t seem to effect the junior as he won the 800 in 1:57.55.
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By the time he passed the baton to Noah Woods, he was tired.
“My legs are exhausted, I gave all I could in everything today,” he said
Woods was feeling just as exhausted as Milligan when his turn came. Not even an hour earlier, the sophomore finished second in the 200. And before that, he won the 400 meter dash with a time of 49.43.
“I was really tired,” he said. “I didn’t think I would be able to compete at my best.”
But Woods secured the victory with a time of 3:24.41, making the 1,600 team the third State College relay to qualify for states. Rickley summed it up best when he said
“When I saw Noah come down the track, it just made my day, it made my season,” Rickley said.
The Little Lions finished second as a team with 200 points, behind champion Altoona, which finished with 246.5 points. State College will be represented in eight events at the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg on May 22-23. Milligan captured titles in three events Thursday, but he has chosen to only run the open 1,600 at states, along with the 3,200 relay and 1,600 relay.
Milligan didn’t run the 3,200 relay at districts, but the team of Eric Heatwole, Owen Wing, Tony Deglaris, Nick Feffer finished with a state qualifying time of 7:58.97. It was good for second place behind Altoona’s time of 7:54.26. State Colleges’s time was almost seven seconds better than the team’s previous season best.
One of the biggest surprises was sophomore thrower Erik Ebel.
Ebel became a district champion in the javelin after throwing 156 feet, 7 inches, which was a personal best.
“I don’t feel like I did anything good with it,” Ebel said. “I just think I got a really good pull through.”
He was also sixth in the shot put with a throw of 40-10 and third in discus with a throw of 123-11.
Ebel will go to states for the first time, along with senior Matt Beyerle.
Beyerle won the 3,200 meter run.
“It’s just been a conveyer belt that I’ve been on for a matter of years now,” he said. “And I think the training has just finally caught up with me and my fitness is at its best, so I was happy with how it went down today.”
Another two state qualifiers came from pole vault where Lucas Gray and Griffin Thompson finished one and two, respectively. The duo both jumped 14-03 (the exact state qualifying mark) and were separated only by misses.
Tristan Daman qualified for states in the open 100 and with the 400 meter relay, however, a devastating hamstring injury in the 200 will keep the junior from actually competing at states. The relay team finished second with a state qualifying time of 42.88. The team was comprised of Daman, Max Herbst, Woods, and Ilya Bogdanets.
State College had many other top finishers.
Brandon Clark was eighth in long jump with a jump of 19-02. Doug Swoboda was seventh in shot put with a throw of 39-1. Malik Patterson was seventh in the 110 hurdles with a 18.71. Nick Feffer was fourth in the 1600 with a time of 4:25.03 and Eric Heatwole was seventh with a 4:39.98.
In the 300 hurdles, Tyler Smith was second with a 42.15, Aziz Salamy was third (42.38) and Kyle Charney was seventh (44.14.) Anthony Degleris was fourth in the 800 with a 1:59.47, and Feffer was sixth (2:02.15.) Max Herbst was fifth in the 200 with a 23.19. Rickley was third in the 400 (52.84). Wing was third in the 3,200 with a time of 9:58.39.
Bellefonte did not have any state qualifiers, but the Red Raiders had a medalist in senior Matthew Feldman. Feldman was third in the javelin with a throw of 155 feet, 8 inches. He was also fourth in the discus after throwing 117 feet, 11 inches.
Bryce Steiner added an eighth place finish the in 110 hurdles with a time of 16.83. The 3,200 meter relay team was sixth with a time of 10:00.7. The team was made up of Mitchell Pensak, Michael Fratangelo, Ian Hoaglund, and Brett Pope. The 1,600 meter relay team of Bryce Steiner, Nate Wert, Finn Nixdorf, and Ryan Houser was seventh with a time of 3:51.49.
Bellefonte finished seventh out of eight teams.