Sometimes it looked like Jared Minori was trying to shoot birds out of a tree, and Nick Patton made it look like shooting fish in a barrel.
In the end, even an extraordinary performance by Patton wasn't enough to deny Minori and Bellwood-Antis.
Tyrone's Patton set a record, won two individual events and was part of two winning relays. However, Bellwood's sheer force numbers gave the Blue Devils the District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championship Meet boys team championship, spearheaded by Minori's first- and second-place efforts in the throws and Brian Leap's four top-three showings Wednesday at Mansion Park.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Jared Minori wins the javelin for the boys champion Bellwood-Antis Wednesday.
"We set goals at the beginning of the season. This was the last one,'' Leap said in calling the team title the highlight of his meet.
A total of 24 area competitors and relay teams earned their right to advance to the PIAA championship meet May 27-28 at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium. The top two finishers in each event move on, as do any performers that met a predetermined qualifying time, height or distance in their event.
Bellwood took home three gold medals - Leap in the triple jump, Minori in the javelin and Seth Worthing in the 100-meter dash - while Central's Dan Hoover regrouped after a horrible earlier in the meet to prevail in the 110 hurdles, and Tyrone's Rob Huff won the 300 hurdles.
However, Patton stole the show from an individual standpoint.
As expected, Patton easily won his two individual events. He posted a season-best 49.87 in the 400, finishing nearly 2 seconds before runner-up Derek Bearer of Northern Cambria. Then he ran the second leg of the winning four-by-100 relay, joining Zach Burke, Derrick Emigh and Steve Franco to time 43.74; Bellwood was second at 44.35.
That, though, was just a prelude to his performance in the 200. The defending PIAA gold medalist in the event finished in 21.87 seconds, breaking the six-year-old record of Brad Kanuch by a full tenth of a second.
"I just wanted to get under the 22s officially. I was shooting for [the record]. I didn't know if I would get it. I'm so happy that I got it,'' Patton said.
Despite his time, Patton was hotly pursued by Forest Hills' Luke Gallaher, who ran a 22.45. Penns Valley's Nathan Sweeley also met the state qualifying time with a 22.72.
"That really helped me push,'' Patton said. "I like going against good competition. It makes me push harder. And [Gallaher's] a really good runner.''
Patton finished off things by catching Leap in the final straightaway to give the Golden Eagle team of Emigh, Ben Makdad and Huff the victory in the four-by-400 over Bellwood with a time of 3 minutes, 25.76 seconds. Huff ran a strong third leg to keep Tyrone in striking distance for Patton.
Patton dealt with injuries earlier in the year and the unusual schedule caused by all the rain this spring, but his times are very much in line with those of last year, when he took individual gold and silver in Shippensburg.
"I really like my times,'' Patton said. "My 400 is not as fast last year, but it's to be expected losing all that time. I just need to work on a little more conditioning.''
In spite of Patton's heroics, Bellwood still won the team championship going away, scoring 108 points to defending champion Tyrone's 71. The Blue Devils will be represented in nine events at states.
It was Bellwood's first team title since 2007. Although the rain held off for the meet, B-A coach Nick Lovich was soaked after his athletes gave him an ice-water bath upon receiving their team trophy.
"This season's been great. We've scored 100 points in every meet,'' Lovrich said. "It's pretty impressive. These kids have worked hard and done everything we've asked them to do.''
Leap won the triple jump by going 47 feet, 1 inch, finished second in the high jump with a top height of 6-4 and achieved the state-qualifying distance in the long jump by posting a 21-6 in addition to anchoring the runner-up 1,600 relay.
"I'm excited. Going in four events is going to be a blast,'' Leap, a PIAA medalist in the triple jump as a junior, said. "The primary goal was just get myself to states, whatever that took, and improve wherever I could.''
Leap was the top seed coming into the meet in the triple jump and could have broken another Kanuch record if he had matched his personal and season record of 47-11. However, he came up 3 inches shy.
"I knew it was possible. I just kind of ran out of steam,'' said Leap, whose best jump came in his last attempt of the preliminaries.
Minori was the second seed in the javelin with a distance well behind that of Central's Derek Nothstein, a returning state medalist. However, while none of the other competitors could find a groove, Minori remained consistent and threw near his season best when his throws weren't going into the foliage lining the javelin area.
"My focus and keeping an eye on the top of the trees, everything just kind of pulled together. I didn't get exactly what I wanted with the distances, but I'll take the first place. My best throws were in the trees,'' Minori said.
Although Minori didn't approach his premeet goal of 185 feet, three of his throws were in the 170s. Minori's best throw was 177-6, a foot better than Nothstein, who came in second.
"I have a lot more in me. I just have to prepare for states now. That's all that matters,'' Minori said. "All my throws were there.''
Minori was a district qualifier in the discus and shot put, too. He also qualified for the PIAA meet in the shot by finishing second to United's Stefan Moreau with a throw of 46-9, and he felt staying busy worked to his advantage.
"It's definitely better. Last year, I was just jav, and this year, I got all three. It kept my focus even, so I didn't get obsessed and do worse, like I did last year,'' Minori said.
Worthing won the 100 by running 11.27 seconds in the finals, equaling his preiminary-best time in the preliminaries. Huntingdon's Tyrell Green was second at 11.35.
"I haven't been having good starts, but my finishes have been strong, and I've been accelerating pretty quickly throughout the whole race,'' Worthing said.
Although he'd been strong all year, Worthing was seeded fifth coming into the meet. His best previous time was 11.41.
"I was nervous. I knew I had it for some guys, because, even though they were seeded ahead of me, I'd already raced them and beat them. But I didn't know about Huff from Tyrone, because I hadn't run against him yet, and I wasn't sure if Luke Gallaher was going to run the 100,'' Worthing said. "But, after the prelims, I settled down.''
Huff was visibly upset after winning the 300 hurdles, because, although his winning time of 40.06 was more than seven-tenths of a second faster than runner-up Blake Bussard of Central Cambria, it was more than a tenth of a second off his season's best and more than three-tenths of a second slower than his best time from his junior year.
"With the people that are in double-A, I wanted to be sub-40 to get a good seed for states. I don't want to sound cocky, but I never had a doubt that I was going to win here,'' Huff said. "I'm just disappointed in not getting under 40.''
Huff attributed the problem partially to hitting his trail leg on some hurdles and an extra-long layoff after two heats of the girls race were run with hurdles at an improper height, as well as some miscalculation on his own part.
"I wanted to save something. Usually I go out really hard the first 100 [meters], but I decided to save a little bit and start at the two instead of the beginning, and I don't think that was very smart,'' Huff said.
Hoover missed finishing second and qualifying for states in the 300 hurdles when he tripped on the last hurdle and fell before crossing the finish line. That could have played on his mind in the 110 hurdles, in which he was favored, but he managed to catch Penn Cambria's Ian Lewis at the very end to win it with a time of 15.22 seconds.
"You starting to think to yourself the 300-meter hurdles are lower. Now, what are you going to do when it's higher? But the 110s have really been my event. That's what I've put my focus on. And it just has to be a smooth transition. You can't think about it,'' Hoover said.
Hoover has cut about a second off his time in the shorter distance this season to put himself in state medal contention, and his time met the state-qualifying standard.
"I did a lot of offseason work. You might not be able to tell, but I did a lot of weight lifting,'' Hoover said, poking fun at his slight frame. "I did a lot of mental preparation, too.''
Bellwood's Deryck Montgomery just missed adding another area gold. He was the top seed in the 800 and led most of the race. However, Penns Valley's Michael Decker passed him on the next-to-last turn and held off his attempt to regain the lead with about 50 meters to go. Montgomery still will go to states as the event runner-up.
Meet notes: Other area competitors who punched their tickets to the PIAA meet by virtue of second-place finishes were Cambria Heights' Zack Prohonic (long jump) and Northern Cambria's Tony Rocco in the pole vault. ... Prohonic also met the qualifying standard in the triple jump while finishing fourth. ... Huntingdon's Jeremy Posey qualified for states in the high jump and triple jump as the third-place finisher by meeting the state standard with a height of 6-4 and a distance of 44-11, respectively. ... Gallaher and Marion Center's Alex Woodrow were multi-event winners. Gallaher won the high jump and long jump, while Woodrow captured the 1,600 and 3,200. ... Woodrow will not run the mile at Shippensburg, meaning Central Cambria's Grant Barber, the third-place finisher in that race, will take his place. ... Hoover, Leap, Tyrone's Derrick Emigh, Bishop Guilfoyle's Tim Heiss and Williamsburg's Michael Sollenberger were the boys recipients of the Blair County Chapter of PIAA Track and Field Officials Outstanding Performer Awards.
KEY, TEAM SCORING: 1, BA-Bellwood-Antis, 108; 2, T-Tyrone, 71; 3, U-United, 52; 4, FH-Forest Hills, 44; 5 (tie), CC-Central Cambria and PM-Penns Manor, 41; 7, PV-Penns Valley, 39; 8, BEA-Bald Eagle Area, 32; 9, HD-Huntingdon, 27; 10, R-Richland, 26; 11 (tie), BM-Bishop McCort and CH-Cambria Heights, 24; 13 (tie), CN-Central and MC-Marion Center, 20; 15, J-Juniata, 18; 16, PL-Purchase Line, 17; 17, NC-Northern Cambria, 16; 18, PC-Penn Cambria, 14; 19, PT-Portage, 12; 20, LV-Ligonier Valley, 11; 21, SB-Saltsburg, 10; 22, PO-Philipsburg-Osceola, 9; 23, SH-Southern Huntingdon, 8; 24, HC-Homer-Center, 9; 25, WH-Westmont Hilltop, 3; 26 (tie), MU-Mount Union and WB-West Branch, 2; 28, JV-Juniata Valley, 1.
100 dash: 1, S. Worthing, BA, 11.27; 2, Green, HD, 11.35; 3, Goshorn, J, 11.42; 4, Emigh, T, 11.43; 5, Rozich, R, 11.53; 6, Huff, T, 11.55; 7, Slippey, WB, 11.56; 8, King, PV, 11.61.
200 dash: 1, Patton, T, 21.87 (new meet record); 2, L. Gallaher, FH, 22.45; n 3, Sweeley, PV, 22.72; 4, S. Worthing, BA, 22.92; 5, C. Speicher, R, 23.04; 6, King, PV, 23.47; 7, Green, HD, 23.49; 8, Sheridan, CH, 24.19.
400 dash: 1, Patton, T, 49.87; 2, Derek Bearer, NC, 51.86; 3, Keagy, PC, 52.38; 4, Bimle, PT, 52.97; 5, C. Eason, PO, 53.14; 6, C. Gallaher, FH, 53.52; 7, Koval, BM, 53.80; 8, Haubert, J, 54.08.
800 run: 1, Decker, PV, 1:59.60; 2, Montgomery, BA, 1:59.93; 3, Jones, SB, 2:01.07; 4, Blose, PL, 2:05.36; 5, Boring, PL, 2:05.53; 6, Taylor, BA, 2:05.73; 7, Howard, BM, 2:06.76; 8 (tie), Dorminy, T, and Husar, PT, 2:07.52.
1600 run: 1, Woodrow, MC, 4:24.85; 2, Ofman, U, 4:28.03; 3, Barber, CC, 4:37.70; 4, Vyas, CC, 4:41.52; 5, Stever, T, 4:41.52; 6, Brown, PV, 4:44.75; 7, McKeehan, MU, 4:45.02; 8, Brown, U, 4:50.42.
3200 run: 1, Woodrow, MC, 9:53.24; 2, Ofman, U, 9:59.65; 3, King, BM, 10:08.54; 4, Brown, PV, 10:11.29; 5, Barber, CC, 10:19.73; 6, Dailey, WH, 10:20.33; 7, Fuller, Penns Valley, 10:22.02; 8, Lush, PV, 10:25.81.
110 hurdles: 1, Hoover, CN, 15.22; 2, Lewis, PC, 15.35; 3, Shaner, CH, 15.66; 4, O'Reilly, BM, 15.71; 5, Leskovansky, BEA, 16.00; 6, Pourban, PT, 16.15.
300 hurdles: 1, Huff, T, 40.06; 2, Bussard, CC, 40.79; 3, Miller, J, 41.45; 4, Sinisi, BA, 42.14; 5, O'Reilly, BM, 42.33; 6, Hanley, R, 42.43; 7, Davensizer, BA, 42.58; 8, Curtis, PO, 43.24.
400 relay: 1, Tyrone (Burke, Patton,Emigh, Franco), 43.74; 2, Bellwood-Antis (Noye, Albert, C. Worthing, S. Worthing), 44.35; 3, Penns Valley, 44,41; 4, Richland, 44.90; 5, Juniata, 45.02; 6, Ligonier Valley, 45.17; 7, Forest Hills, 46.11; 8, Central Cambria, 46.69.
1600 relay: 1, Tyrone (Emigh, Makdad, Huff, Patton), 3:25.76; 2, Bellwood-Antis (S. Worthing, DeGol, Montgomery, Leap), 3:26.81; 3, Forest Hills, 3:31.08; 4, Ligonier Valley, 3:35.48; 5, Portage, 3:37.61; 6, United, 3:38.03; 7, Penns Valley, 3:38.69; 8, Juniata, 3:38.92.
3200 relay: 1, 1, United (Knapic, Campbell, Lichvar, Ofman), 8:19.68; 2, Purchase Line, 8:24.61; 3, Central Cambria, 8:25.36; 4, Bellwood-Antis, 8:28.31; 5, Tyrone, 8:31.06; 6, Southern Huntingdon, 8:49.06; 7, Central, 8:56.62; 8, Philipsburg-Osceola, 8:57.49.
High jump: 1, Gallaher, FH, 6-6; 2, Leap, BA, 6-4; n 3, Posey, HD, 6-4; 4, Wilson-Adams, T, 6-2; 5, Gruguric, SB, 6-2; 6, O'Reilly, BM, 6-0; 7 (tie), Leskovansky, BEA, and Weicenburg, JV, 5-8.
Long jump: 1, Gallaher, FH, 22-6; 2, Prohonic, CH, 21-10; n 3, Leap, BA, 21-6; n 4, Hicks, BEA, 21-6; 5, Posey, HD, 21-2; 6, Crumrine, LV, 21-2; 7, Smith, HC, 20-3; 8, DeGol, BA, 20-2.
Triple jump: 1, Leap, BA, 47-1; 2, Hicks, BEA, 44-11; 3, Posey, HD, 44-11; n 4, Prohonic, CH, 44-1; 5, Bytner, PM, 42-10; 6, Montgomery, BA, 42-6; 7, Claypoole, BA, 41-11; 8, Bailey, U, 41-7.
Shot put: 1, Moreau, U, 53-3; 2, Minori, BA, 46-9; 3, Walsh, PM, 45-11; 4, Trimble, PM, 45-11; 5, Kelley, CC, 44-8; 6, Glacken, FH, 44-7; 7, Rugg, BM, 44-5; 8, Newhouse, HC, 44-0.
Discus: 1, Beals, BEA, 154-3; 2, Walsh, PM, 150-5; 3, Dabella, PM, 144-1; 4, Moreau, U, 141-4; 5, Miller, CH, 132-10; 6, Sokira, CC, 126-0; 7, Glacken, FH, 123-9; 8, Miller, HC, 121-9.
Javelin: 1, Minori, BA, 177-6; 2, Nothstein, CN, 176-10; 3, Anderson, U, 166-1; 4, Dabella, PM, 165-2; 5, Byrne, CC, 162-2; 6, Trimble, PM, 160-8; 7, Hicks, BEA, 153-5; 8, Houck, HD, 152-6.
Pole vault: 1, C. Speicher, R, 13-6; 2, Rocco, NC, 13-6; 3, Albert, BA, 13-0; 4, Cornelius, SH, 13-0; 5, Young, PM, 12-0; 6, Nartatez, PO, 12-0; 7, Gordon, BEA, 12-0; 8, Zayac, HC, 12-0.
n - advanced to PIAA Championships by meeting state-qualifying standard