As they have all season, Centre County’s track and field athletes prevailed through the cold, wind and rain to bring home some hardware.
This time, it was from the West Central Coaches Invitational at Altoona’s Mansion Park on Friday.
In the Class AA team race, the Penns Valley girls’ team led the way with a fourth-place finish with 48 points. The Rams boys’ team tied with Philipsburg-Osceola for 15th with 16 points. The St. Joseph’s girls team came in 10th and the Wolves boys team finished 23rd.
Centre County’s day started out strong with top finishes from the 3,200-meter relay teams. The Philipsburg-Osceola boys’ relay team led the way with a second-place finish out of 19 teams. The team of Michael Shimmel, Matthew Shimmel, Nick Patrick and Kyle Albert combined for a 8:30.94, beating its previous best by five seconds. First place went to Elk County Catholic, which finished in 8:28.77.
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“I was kind of surprised, I didn’t think we could do that,” Albert said.
On the girls’ side, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy 3,200-meter relay team finished fourth in 10:09.69.
The county’s first victor came a few races later when Penns Valley’s Destiny Andrus won the 100 in 12.56. The win was 0.11 seconds faster than Bishop Guilfoyle’s Alyssa McGhee. Andrus’ teammate Valerie Hosterman was seventh.
Andrus also won the 200 by breaking her own school record with a time of 25.75, and she was part of the Lady Rams’ winning 400-meter relay team.
For the relay, Andrus combined with Marissa Stecko, Maci Ilgen and Hosterman to record a time of 50.54, falling 0.04 seconds shy of the meet record.
Lady Ram Isabella Culver lost in the 400 to Bellwood-Antis’ Marissa Panasiti. Panasiti beat the freshman by 0.39 seconds. Culver defeated Panasiti earlier this season in the Bellwood-Antis Invitational.
The close defeat is motivating the freshman for the District 6 meet.
“I’m looking forward to more competition to help me beat my personal time and just get better and have fun,” Culver said.
The county continued to excel in the distance events.
Sera Mazza of St. Joseph’s was third in the 1,600 with a season-best finish of 5:20.52. Teammate Kate Ott was close behind with a ninth-place finish. Lady Ram Malarie Yoder was 12th. Yoder was also sixth in the 3,200.
St. Joseph’s senior Lucia Person became an individual champion with a time of 11:43.28 in the 3,200. The time was slow for the senior, whose seeded time was 11:16.55, but Person still outpaced the second-place finisher by about 24 seconds.
In the boys’ 800, Albert defied expectations with a 2:03.64, good for a fourth-place finish.
“In the 4x800, my split was a 2:02, so I had a little bit of confidence that my speed was going to be good,” Albert said. “I wasn’t too worried about being seeded sixth. My goal was to stick with everyone until the last lap and then just give it everything I had left.”
His final time was also a career best by two seconds.
Penns Valley’s Chris Colwell led the local boys’ distance runners with a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 (4:49.25) and a fourth-place finish in the 3,200 (10:15.11).
In the field events, St. Joseph’s Lance Hamilton took seventh place in the long jump (18-11 1/2). In the triple jump, he finished fourth with a leap of 40-9 1/2.
Both high jump and pole vault were not completed due to the weather.
For the Lady Eagles, Adazia Mellot picked up an eighth-place finish in the discus with a throw of 86-8 1/2. P-O’s Sarah Bainey was close behind with a throw of 82-10 1/2 for 12th place. Teammate Sarah VanCise added a 10th-place finish in shot put. Lady Wolf Asara Clark was right behind with a 12th-place finish.
Other top female finishers included: Penns Valley’s Sydney Riegel (12th; 100 hurdles), St. Joseph’s Lindsey Carmack (12th; 800).
Other top male finishers included: Penns Valley’s Braden Stodart (9th; 110 hurdles), Jared Hurd (9th; 300 hurdles), Keith Griffith (6th; 800), Stephen Gover (7th; 800), and Ethan Stroup (11th; discus); St. Joseph’s Charlie Ross (9th; 400); and BEA’s Luke Holler (10th; 400), Josh Fye (7th; shot put), and Payton Moore (6th; 300 hurdles).
Many athletes will return to Mansion Park for the District 6 Championships on May 17.
“I hope that districts go well,” Andrus said. “I hate to see myself blow it and completely ruin the rest of my season, but I’ve accomplished a lot this season and I’m really proud of how I’ve done it So if that does happen, if I don’t make it to states, I can leave knowing that I accomplished a lot and be happy with that.”