One can sympathize with Aaron Nadolsky - the Altoona Area High School senior just seems to be the wrong man at the wrong time.
Or maybe he's the right man at the wrong times.
In the last couple of years, Nadolsky, who will be running track at Penn State, has been producing state-caliber times. He was even the 2008 PIAA Class AAA boys silver medalist in the 200-meter dash.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Wade Endress (right) is congratulated moments after finishing his leg in the 3200 relay Friday afternoon at Mansion Park.
However, because his varsity years coincided with those of other terrific sprinters, like teammate Brady Gehret and State College's Alex Kenney, Nadolsky hasn't had the opportunity to be a District 6 individual champ.
When asked if it bothered him, Nadolsky smiled while considering his answer.
"You always want to be the best,'' Nadolsky said. "But there's always going to be someone better. Just with the competition with Alex Kenney and Brady, there's no way you can be disappointed.''
Nadolsky won't be shedding too many tears, though. He still qualified for states in four events on Friday at Mansion Park. Gehret, however, stole the show once again with a phenomenal effort in the 200, a convincing win in the long jump and victories with Nadolsky in the 400 and 1,600 relays at the District 6 Class AAA Track and Field Championships.
Gehret and Nadolsky will be with plenty of friendly faces as Altoona tries to defend its team championship next week at the PIAA meet in Shippensburg. Chris Carper won both hurdle races, ran a leg of the four-by-four and met the qualifying standard in the javelin, Wade Endress earned a trip to states by winning the 800 and 1,600 wins and helped the Mountain Lions to first in the 3,200 relay, and Anthony Lytle and DeRon Lee advanced by achieving the qualifying mark in the triple jump.
Hollidaysburg is sending two competitors to states: Jack Campbell won the 400, and Jamie Muir finished first in the high jump.
Altoona scored 240 team points. State College was second with 187.
"We're excited to see what we can do next week,'' Altoona coach Mike Adams said. "We've put ourselves in a position to make another run at it.''
Gehret is a big reason why. His 20-foot, -inch long jump outdistanced State College state qualifier Ashton Baker by more than a foot. Later, he teamed with Nadolsky, Mike Treese and D.J. Greene for a record time of 41.96 seconds in the 400 relay and capped the night by joining Nadolsky, Treese and Carper to run the 1,600 in 3 minutes, 16.61 seconds, also a meet mark.
However, Altoona's junior phenom was at his most electrifying in the 200 meters. Facing both Kenney and Nadolsky, Gehret blazed to a 21.13 to shatter Kenney's year-old district record by a half-second.
"I was real excited. That was crazy. I wasn't expecting that at all,'' Gehret said of learning of his record time. "We've been training our starts all week, haven't really come out of the blocks real hard all year. I just tried to sprint the whole thing, and it worked out.
"That's all I've been looking forward to all week.''
"It's just amazing,'' Nadolsky, who ran a 21.92 to finish third, said of Gehret and his 2008 season. "We've been running together since junior high, and I've always been a step ahead of him. This year, he came out and just started doing amazing.''
Gehret's best event has actually been the 400 dash, but the open 400 and the 400 relay are run back to back, so Gehret wouldn't have had time to recover. He had to drop one of them and decided to keep the relay.
"I'm happy now I got that 21.13, and I got that long jump instead of the 400. I miss it, but I'll get it later,'' Gehret said.
The relay teams were just as impressive. The four-by-400 crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of State College to shatter a record set in 2000 by almost five seconds. The four-by-100 - which Adams almost dismantled a month ago - won by almost a second and a half and posted its fourth sub-42-second time of the season.
"That was our main focus this year. Ever since the indoor season, we've had great relays,'' Nadolsky said. "We have four great athletes for each event.''
Nadolsky met the state qualifying time in the 100 and the 200 despite not winning either event. Carper, meanwhile, had already had a nice day going for him before taking part in the record-setting four-by-four by winning both hurdles decisively and qualifying with a second-place finish in the javelin.
Carper ran a 15.2 in the 110 hurdles after posting a 40.05 in the 300.
"I've been working hard this year. The kid that beat me last year [former teammate Troy Floyd] has come back and been helping me. This has been the toughest year, conditioning-wise,'' Carper said. "As long as I made it to states, I was happy.''
While Carper had his own personal coach, Endress had his own personal fan section of about a half-dozen friends that have been cheering him on at meets since he was in junior high. Endress gave them a lot of reason to be happy with a 4:37.63 in the mile and a 1:57.31 in the 800.
"In the mile, I knew [teammate Tyler Lidwell] is a good runner, because I ran with him this past year in cross country. I knew I had to get out front and take it from there,'' Endress said. "In the 800, Chris Rallis, the second seed from State College beat me in the first meet of the indoor season. I told myself I wasn't going to let him beat me again, but I only had 15 minutes coming in after the mile. It was hard pushing, because he was behind me the entire time.''
With Gehret out of the 400, Campbell was essentially unchallenged. He recorded a 50.68 to come out on top by a second.
"I knew my first 200 was good. I just wanted to work on my kick around the 250[-meter] mark. I didn't run what I wanted, but I think I get it down by states,'' Campbell said. "Sometimes you have good days. Sometimes you have bad days. I think, if I would have had somebody in front of my, I would have ran a little harder.''
Campbell was the favorite in his event, but Muir was ranked second to Lytle in the high jump. Muir, though, beat his seeded height by an inch at 6-3, which gave him the gold over Lytle on fewer misses.
"I think that day off [the meet was postponed from Thursday] we had was pretty beneficial. It gave me that little extra push,'' Muir said. "Lytle's always been my benchmark. I got him once, he beat me once this year. I thought the first one to clear 6-3 would win it.''
Lytle was on track for a frustrating day until he and teammate Lee earned a trip to the state triple jump by achieving the qualifying distance. Lee got a chance to compete in the triple jump when Gehret, the top seed, scratched the event to focus on the 200, long and two relays.
"I missed qualifying in the long jump by an inch. I could have won the high jump. If I didn't get that, it would have been bad,'' Lytle said.
Hollidaysburg's Tyler Salyards, though, won't be moving on. The top seed in the discus with a state-qualifying seeded distance, Salyards injured his landing-foot ankle Sunday while trying to get in a little extra practice.
"There was a small nail I slipped on, and my leg went out to the side. I can't really turn my ankle, so I wasn't able to do a really good spin,'' Salyards said. "There's not much you can do for it.''
The area's other top seed, Altoona's Ricky Diantoniis, settled for third in the pole vault. State College's John Sumereau, seeded fourth at 12-6, vaulted a 13-9, while Hollidaysburg's Phillip Treon was second.
Meet notes: Endress scratched the mile for states. Lidwell will take his place in the event at Shippensburg. ... Second-place Campbell and Nadolsky were presented the Blair County Chapter of PIAA Officials outstanding performer awards. ... Kenney (100), Indian Valley's Michael Brode (javelin) and Alex Monroe (3,200) and Central Mountain's Jacob Shade (shot put, dicus) rounded out the list of gold-medal winners.
KEY, TEAM STANDINGS: 1, A-Altoona, 240; 2, SC-State College, 187; 3, H-Hollidaysburg, 86; 4 (tie),CM-Central Mountain and IV-Indian Valley, 73; 6, J-Johnstown, 25; 7, B-Bellefonte, 8.
(District champion automatically qualifies for PIAA meet.)
100 dash: 1, Kenney, SC, 10.64 (tied meet record); n 2, Nadolsky, A, 10.89; 3, Treese, A, 11.37; 4, Greene, A, 11.42; 5, Appleman, H, 11.50; 6, Wright, SC, 11.57; 7, Siciliano, J, 11.67; 8, Stephens-Howling, J, 11.86.
200 dash: 1, Gehret, A, 21.13 (new meet record); n 2, Kenney, SC, 21.57; n 3 Nadolsky, A, 21.92; 4, Brode, IV, 22.76; 5, Treese, A, 22.93; 6, Appleman, H, 23.14; 7, Song, SC, 23.50; 8, Smith, CM, 24.66.
400 dash: 1, Campbell, H, 50.68; 2, Rivera, SC, 51.66; 3, Thorton, J, 52.11; 4, Picketts, IV, 52.60; 5, Lee, A, 53.15; 6, Shrift, H, 53.20; 7, Maiolo, CM, 53.26; 8, Thorwart, SC, 53.35.
800 run: 1, Endress, A, 1:57.31; 2, Rallis, 1:58.10; 3, Gilpin, SC, 2:04.68; 4, Haselrig, J, 2:05.44; 5, Malizia, SC, 2:06.18; 6, Trexler, A, 2:07.75; 7, Price, A, 2:08.99; 8, Parker, H, 2:09.31.
1600 run: 1, Endress, A, 4:37.63; 2, Lidwell, A, 4:41.83; 3, Trexler, A, 4:42.04; 4, Baronner, H, 4:45.87; 5, Fisher, CM, 4:47.23; 6, Reddington, SC, 4:49.00; 7, Krichels, SC, 4:54.98; 8, Bright, IV, 4:57.23.
3200 run: 1, Monroe, IV, 9:39.12; 2, Liberman, A, 9:49.93; 3, Fischer, A, 10:10.72; 4, Harf, A, 10:22.05; 5, Short, IV, 10:26.33; 6, Fisher, CM, 10:31.69; 7, Crowe, SC, 10:37.44; 8, Yoder, IV, 10:39.75.
110 hurdles: 1, Carper, A, 15.20; 2, Ellis, SC, 15.38; 3, Nyman, CM, 16.70; 4, Bartolomew, CM, 17.00; 5, Hall, CM, 17.07; 6, Mandley, A, 17.22; 7, Sharp, IV, 17.65; Crouse, SC, 17.77.
300 hurdles: 1, Carper, A, 40.05; 2, Ellis, SC, 41.11; 3, Bartholomew, CM, 41.29; 4, Crouse, SC, 42.41; 5, Angle, A, 42.97; 6, Sharp, IV, 43.09; 7, Mandley, A, 44.24; 8, Nyman, CM, 44.79.
400 relay: 1, Altoona (Treese, Gehret, Greene, Nadolsky), 41.96 (new meet record); n 2, State College, 43.39; 3, Hollidaysburg, 45.39; 4, Central Mountain, 46.94; 5, Bellefonte, 47.81.
1600 relay: 1, Altoona (Treese, Carper, Nadolsky, Gehret), 3:16.61 (new meet record); 2, State College, 3:26.40; 3, Hollidaysburg, 3:35.17; 4, Johnstown, 3:36.24; 5, Indian Valley, 3:36.94; 6, Central Mountain, 3:39.30; 7, Bellefonte, 3:55.70.
3200 relay: 1, Altoona (Liberman, Fischer, Trexler, Endress), 7:58.53; 2, State College, 8:04.60; 3, Indian Valley, 8:34.50; 4, Johnstown, 8:51.15; 5, Central Mountain, 9:11.66; 6, Hollidaysburg, 9:13.45.
High jump: 1, Muir, H, 6-3; 2, Lytle, A, 6-3; 3, Krepich, A, 5-11;4, Knepp, IV, 5-11; 5, Posatko, SC, 5-9; 6, Pinter, H, 5-9; 7, B. Smack, SC, 5-7; 8, Kuppel, IV, 5-7.
Long jump: 1, Gehret, A, 23-0; n 2, Baker, SC, 21-11; 3, Lytle, A, 21-9; 4, Muir, H, 21-7; 5, Ruby, SC, 20-7; 6, Sumereau, SC, 20-5; 7, Maiolo, CM, 20-0; 8, Lageman, CM, 19-11.
Triple jump: 1, Baker, State College, 46-5; n 2, Lytle, A, 46-0; n 3, Lee, A, 44-8; 4, Ruby, SC, 42-10; 5, Krepich, A, 42-5; 6, B. Smack, SC, 40-3; 7, Lageman, CM, 40-3; 8, Simms, J, 37-10.
Shot put: 1, Shade, CM, 51-3; 2, Reeder, SC, 49-5; 3, Beiswenger, A, 45-5; 4, Salyards, H, 43-5; 5, Edwards, H, 42-11; 6, Harpster, IV, 41-6; 7, Rogers, B, 39-10; 8, Criswell, IV, 39-7.
Discus: 1, Shade, CM, 148-6; 2, Reeder, SC, 137-8; 3, E. Terrell, SC, 127-9; 4, Salyards, H, 125-11; 5, Beiswenger, A, 119-3; 6, White, H, 110-9; 7, Edwards, H, 109-7; 8, O. Terrell, SC, 109-1.
Javelin: 1, Brode, IV, 185-11; n 2, Carper, A, 179-5; 3, Pechtold, SC, 159-7; 4, Criswell, IV, 155-1; 5, Matthews, IV, 154-10; 6, Shade, CM, 153-4; 6, Reeder, SC, 147-6; 7, Becker, A, 144-8.
Pole vault: 1, Sumereau, SC, 13-9; 2, Treon, H, 13-3; 3, Diantoniis, A, 12-9; 4, Falbo, A, 12-9; 5, Bowman, SC, 12-9; 6, Betush, IV, 12-9; 7, Tornatore, A, 12-3; 8, Nardella, CM, 12-3.
n - Qualified for PIAA meet by meeting state qualifying standard.