Brian Hackman is proud to be a trail-blazer at his school, and he is quick to spread the accolades when he gets them.
“There have been a lot of guys who have helped me out,” Hackman said. “There have been a lot of great athletes, people at the school. It’s amazing.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy is a mere four years old, had its first PIAA qualifiers just last year and now had its first top-five finish and podium medal winner in Hackman, who was fourth in the 1,600-meter run at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.
Hackman ran the four-lap race in 4 minutes, 19.51 seconds. He was in third place entering the home stretch but was passed by Wyomissing’s Kyle Shinn, who beat Hackman by 0.37 seconds.
Still, as he crossed the finish line, Hackman raised both arms in celebration, knowing his fourth-place result was a big win for the small school in Boalsburg.
“It means everything to me, it really does,” Hackman said. “I’ve been saying ever since I got to the school last year that I wanted to help build the program along with Coach (Jayson) Jackson and all the other coaches, our athletic director, our principal, everyone, not just building the sports program, but helping build the school, helping get people to come, it means the world to me.”
The senior, who will run next year at St. Francis, is officially not the first to earn a PIAA medal. He earned one by finishing 12th at the state track meet, and Garrett Bastardi also picked one up at the state golf championships. But Hackman is the first to be in the top 10, let alone top five, and he had plenty of support in the bleachers spurring him on, including teammates from the 3,200 relay team which ran on Friday.
“I owe it to these guys,” Hackman said. “These guys have given me everything, they’ve given me their full support. They’ve backed me up through everything. I was starting to tear up when I was warming up, just thinking about all that and how much it’s really meant to me.”
Penns Valley’s Destiny Andrus was focusing on the bright side after her run in the 100-meter dash semifinals. She didn’t make it to the finals, but that didn’t matter. She got to sprint down the Seth Grove Stadium track for a second day, and the experience was worth it.
“I’m glad I got to run again today,” Andrus said. “It was a much better race than it was yesterday. I got a good time, so I’m happy with it even if I didn’t make finals.”
Her time was 12.71, finishing in seventh in her heat and 13th overall, and after saying on Friday she would have been happy taking 16th — last among the two eight-runner semifinal races — she felt she was already improving.
“I made it to semis and I’m not going to be 16th,” Andrus said. “That’s more than I could ask for. Hopefully next year, do the same thing and get on the podium.”
She also savored each minute of her time hanging out with the state’s best high school track athletes.
“It’s very exciting,” Andrus said. “The atmosphere is like no other track meet. There is so much stuff going on at once. There are so many people, so many new people, and you get to go to all the tents and look at stuff. It’s a very exciting opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Take a break
State College’s Alex Milligan ran the anchor leg of the 3,200 relay, helping the team to a third-place finish, then was back on the track a few hours later to finish fifth in the 1,600.
His plan now? He’s going to do nothing. After running hard through cross country season last fall and the indoor and outdoor track seasons, he’s beat.
He will take a few weeks off, then put in some low-mile weeks before ramping his training back up to prepare for his senior season.
“I’m pretty tired,” Milligan said. “I’ve had a long season, long school year. I’m just going to rest.”
Oh, so close
Penns Valley’s Gino Nicosia kept staring at the big screen on the scoreboard at the end of the Shippensburg football stadium. The times for his 800-meter race would scroll through, showing his ninth-place finish in 1:58.55.
“I keep hoping it switches, but it doesn’t,” said Nicosia, who will soon take an appointment at Army West Point.
The time, a personal-best by more than a second, was just 0.02 seconds behind Trinity’s Matt Gross and the medal stand for eighth place.
“It would have been nice to end the thing with a medal around my neck,” Nicosia said. “But, hey, it’s OK.”
Considering when he left the infield Friday after his 800 preliminary race, he thought he hadn’t even made the finals, but he did slip into the final field of 12.
“Coach (Welch) told me I made finals and I was like, ‘How? How?’” Nicosia said. “Hey, I’m glad I got to run that race. It was my last one.”