State College’s Erik Ebel went into the District 6 Class AAA Championships with a simple idea in his head.
“Win everything,” he said, “just go in, try your hardest and try to win everything.”
The motto carried him through the day as Ebel became the district champion in the shot put, discus and javelin.
It was also a common theme for the Little Lions who won the boys’ team championship with 207.50 points. Altoona was second with 129.
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“They delivered in spectacular fashion,” State College coach Steve Shisler said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more than what they accomplished today. There was phenomenal results across the board.”
The team won all but five events. A win is an automatic qualification for the PIAA Championships, set to be held May 27-28 at Shippensburg University. Competitors can also qualify by achieving state qualifying standard.
Last year, Ebel was the district champion in the javelin with a throw of 156 feet, 7 inches. He was also sixth in the shot put and third in the discus.
On Thursday, the junior blew away those numbers by throwing the javelin 182 feet, almost 30 feet farther than last year. The throw also beat his previous season-best of 181-7. His other winning throws were 156-3 in the discus and 49-11 in shot put.
“I trained a lot harder over the summer. I really wasn’t as committed last year as I was this year,” Ebel said.
Alex Milligan was also a champion in every event he competed in.
First, the senior won the 1,600 in 4:16.80. The time beat both his previous personal-best of 4:21.79 and the meet record. The record was set by Altoona’s Wade Endress, who finished with a time of 4:17.37 in 2011. Teammate Nick Feffer was second with a state qualifying time of 4:21.06.
Milligan went on to win the 800 in 1:56.55. Teammates Anthony Degleris and Nick Feffer finished 2-3 behind him with qualifying times.
“In the 800, I just led Anthony and Nick to good times, so I was happy with that,” he said, though he will not run the event at states.
Milligan’s most memorable moment came in the 1,600 relay, where he combined with Noah Oesterling, Degleris and Noah Woods to break the school record with a time of 3:18.19.
The previous record was 3:20.00, set by the team of Jonathan Smith, Kyle Adams, Mason Post and Will Cather in 2014. Before that season, the record was set in 1929.
Last year, both Milligan and Woods almost beat the record along with Josh Rickley and Maxwell Herbst, finishing with a time of 3:21.58.
“It feels awesome,” Milligan said of setting the record. “We knew we were capable of doing it, so it was just a matter of getting it done, and we did.”
Shisler was also impressed by the team’s run.
“That’s the biggest cherry you could ever put on top of a cake,” he said. “That’s the first time that we put those four together but with all the work that they did earlier in the day and to run that fast, is just very sweet.”
Woods, the relay’s anchor, had previously won the 400 with a time of 49.61, defending his district title. The time was a season best by half a second for the junior.
“Last year I think I was was seeded second and I won, so I wasn’t going to come out assuming that I was the fastest,” Woods said. “But I ran my race and I was lucky to come in first.”
Oesterling finished second with a season-best and state qualifying time of 49.89.
Pole vaulter Griffin Thompson also broke into the record books, setting a school and meet record by clearing 15-10. It broke the 2000 record of 15-9 set by State College’s Kevin Dare.
Thompson’s teammate Lucas Gray finished second with a state qualifying mark of 14-3.
Little Lion sprinter Tristan Daman won his first district title in the 100 with a time of 10.84.
“That was nice,” Daman said, “I knew that I really wanted to run that at states so I wanted to do well.”
The senior also finished sixth in the 200, however hamstring pain kept him from running the race at full speed. He went into the race seeded first.
“I just kind of went slow for that 200 since I knew I was going to states in the 100, so I just tried to get some points for our team,” he said. “That’s why I did it, I didn’t want to scratch.”
Kellin Valentine was a double individual winner with wins in the long and triple jump in addition to taking second in high jump with a state qualifying standard of 6-5.
In the long jump, he recorded a season-best mark of 22-6.5, six inches farther than second place. In the triple jump, Valentine (44-3) beat teammate and runner-up Brandon Clark (43-10 3/4).
Though he will not run the event at states, junior Owen Wing won the 3,200 with a season-best 9:47.31.
The Little Lions 3,200 relay team won with a time of 8:20.25, eight seconds ahead of second-place Altoona.
As a team, Bellefonte finished seventh with 35 points.
Bryce Steiner and Patrick Johnsonbaugh led the team with third-place finishes.
Steiner finished third in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.34.
Johnsonbaugh threw the discus 135-3 for his medal. The Red Raider went into the event as the No. 6 seed.
With so many qualifiers, Shisler is excited for the state tournament.
“We are set up as well as we could be,” he said. “If the guys can deliver in the same kind of fashion and take care of business like they did tonight, we should be in the mix for a team title or runner-up, which has been our goal all season.”