Eli Urban summed it up pretty well for the St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy track and field team.
“It’s a lot this year,” the senior distance runner said. “We might not be able to carry everyone in one van.”
It’s a good problem to have, and the boys from Philipsburg-Osceola also were feeling pretty good after the District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championships at Mansion Park on Tuesday night.
Both schools will be sending 3,200-meter relay teams to the PIAA Championships next week, while Urban earned a spot in the open 3,200 run and Payton Moore in the 300 hurdles for P-O.
“We were definitely really confident,” Moore said of the team’s success. “As a smaller school, we’re thinking we don’t know if anybody’s going to make it. But we’ve had people make it in the past.”
The day was capped by Lance Hamilton qualifying in the triple jump for the Wolves.
Throw in a big collection of girls for St. Joe’s, and the tiny school in Boalsburg had a pretty good day.
“That’s all awesome,” Urban said. “We’ve never had this many people come to states before.”
The Wolves led the first boys’ race of the day practically from start to finish. Urban was ahead by the end of the first lap and they didn’t trail from that point, with Kaelyn Wright, Charles Ross and Michael Peters each taking their two turns around the track.
“That was one of the most unique feelings I’ve ever had,” Peters said as he blazed down the final straightaway with a comfortable lead. “I’ve come in first for a few races, but nothing like this. Districts is just another level. It’s just awesome.”
The foursome, together for a race for the first time Tuesday, was clocked in 8 minutes, 20.32 seconds, winning by 6.37 seconds over Purchase Line and slicing 17 seconds off their previous top time for the season.
“We were trying to get the correct grouping so we could have the perfect race at districts,” Peters said. “It really worked out.”
The relay team is heading to Shippensburg for a second straight year, with Peters, Urban and Ross all returning to the state meet.
“Knowing that the entire team is behind it,” Peters said. “All of our effort came through from the entire season, it’s just the best feeling of my entire life.”
Taking third and also earning a spot at PIAAs was the Mounties quartet of Kyle Albert, Nick Patrick and Matt and Michael Shimmel, who were timed in 8:28.11.
“It’s just an incredible thing,” Albert said. “I’m so glad that we can do it.”
Aside from Matt Shimmel, a freshman, the rest are seniors and happy to end their high school track careers among the best in the state. They were seeded second and cut nearly three seconds off their seed time.
“We just saw our seed and said, ‘That’s what we’ll go for,’” Albert said. “Just give it our best.”
They will be joined by Moore after his second-place finish in the 300 hurdles in 42 seconds flat. It wasn’t quite a personal best but it was good enough.
“It’s pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie,” Moore said. “Last year I was seeded, like, fourth but I had an ankle injury. Definitely a little bit of redemption.”
Moore was running third until Penn Cambria’s Kamryn Stoy stumbled while clearing the final hurdle a few lanes to Moore’s left. The top seed had been leading the race, and he rolled across the finish line in frustration.
It broke Moore’s concentration a little, but he made it to the line.
“I kind of felt it,” Moore said. “I could see him roll. It’s one of those things, you’re so close you just want to get through. Then I looked back and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I feel so bad.”
Urban was already feeling good from the team’s 4x800 relay win hours earlier when he took his laps in the 3,200. He led for a while but was passed late and took third in 10:03.93, but as long as he was in the top three – earning an automatic qualifying spot – he was satisfied.
His time was well off his personal-best 9:48 set at last year’s state meet and matched a few weeks ago, and he has hopes to crack the top 10 in Shippensburg.
“The real event is states,” Urban said. “I wasn’t pressing, and part of it was – it’s senioritis in track.”
The final event of the night was the triple jump, with Hamilton delivering a top mark of 43 feet, 3 1/4 inches for third. It was an 18-inch improvement over his previous best.
“It feels really good, and I’m just happy about the self improvement,” the freshman said. “I was just going out to try to best my best (mark) today and I was just going out thankful to have the opportunity to be out here.”
He’s looking forward to the challenge of the state meet.
“This is a proud moment for all of us,” Hamilton said. “I’m even happier for the opportunity. I’m going to go out and try to do what I did today – try to best my best.”
Penns Valley just missed sending an athlete to the state meet, with Chris Colwell right behind Urban in fourth in the 3,200 in 10:11.11. Braden Stodart placed fourth in the 110 hurdles in 16.52. Also, the 4x800 team took fifth in 8:45.31, and the 4x400 relay team took sixth in 3:40.72. Bald Eagle Area’s top finisher was Josh Fye, placing seventh in the shot put at 42 feet, 3 inches, while Evan Kilmer and Chris Dunklebarger finished 7-8 in the pole vault, both clearing 11-6.
Richland won the team race with 66 points. St. Joseph’s was 16th with 24 points, followed by Penns Valley’s 21 for 16th, P-O’s 18 for 17th and BEA’s 4.5 points for 28th.
With all their state meet qualifiers, the Wolves and Mounties were pretty happy with their results.
Said Moore: “It’s definitely turning into a pretty blessed day.”