Wade Endress and Bob Hudson are separated by 30 years and their hometowns are 40 miles apart, but they had history in common, and Endress, Altoona Area High School's standout distance runner, was happy Hudson reached out to him last year.
"He approached me on Facebook. He's a great guy,'' Endress said of Hudson, a former running standout at State College. "He's cherished his records, but he said he's been following me since junior high and he wanted someone to break them, and he thought I'd be the best one for it.''
Endress was happy to oblige Hudson.
Mirror photos by Gary M.?Baranec
Altoona coach Mike Adams congratulates Wade Endress after the senior set a school record in the 1600-meter run Thursday.
Endress erased Hudson's name from the District 6 Class AAA Track and Field Championship Meet boys record list, besting the marks the State College great established in the 1,600-meter and 800-meter runs in 1981 while also anchoring a pair of winning relays on an almost ideal Thursday at Mansion Park.
The Mountain Lions' DeRon Lee almost set a meet record in the triple jump and helped Altoona's remaining relay team to prevail in helping his school win another team title. Rafeeq Barnes (100), Dylan Mountain (3,200) and Dreux Stamford (200) also captured gold for Altoona.
Hollidaysburg's Anthony Pinter was the only other area boy to win an event, taking first in the high jump in a jump-off. The winner of each event, as well as anyone achieving a predetermined time, distance or height advances to the PIAA championships at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium May 27-28.
"This was the goal going into it, so you have to be happy,'' Endress said of the two records.
Endress posted a time of 4 minutes, 17.37 seconds in the 1,600, besting Hudson's 4:18.08, then beat Hudson's 1:55.20 with a 1:53.91 in the 800.
At the beginning of both races, it looked like Endress might be pushed. Endress passed State College's Paul Crowe with 40 meters to go in the second lap of the mile, then pulled away from runner-up Zach Moon of Lewistown with a tremendous kick over the last three-quarters of a lap.
In the 800, Endress had a slight lead over State's Doug Jordan. Jordan tried to pass Endress on the last straightaway of the first lap, triggering the Altoona senior to kick it into another gear again and win by 3 seconds.
"That really wasn't the strategy. I wanted to try to evenly pace it, but I'm still getting my timing back.'' Endress said. "Getting both in the same day with not much time in between means more than either win individually.''
The MVP of the indoor state meet and a Penn State recruit, Endress hasn't had an ideal spring, battling injuries early, poor weather in the middle and illness at the end of the regular season. His final laps in the mile and half-mile, though, didn't look like those of someone who wasn't in condition.
"This was only my second big meet of the season,'' said Endress, who wasn't happy with his times at the West Central Coaches Meet earlier this month. "I sort of had to go for it and hope for the best.''
Endress teamed with Tyler Lidwell, Zach Price and Korey Replogle to finish the 3,200 relay in 8:11.92 to begin the meet, and he completed it by running the anchor leg of a 3:24.40 1,600 relay with Tyler Mandley, Barnes and Danny Moyer.
"He's done some amazing things. I never doubted he would break those records. He told me he was going to break them, and I believed him. From early in the season, he wanted those district records, and, when he sets his mind to something, you better believe he's going to get it,'' Altoona coach Mike Adams said.
Sparked by Endress, Altoona finished with 273 points. State College was next with 193, giving the Mountain Lions their 16th straight 6-AAA championship.
"We've been very fortunate to have some great athletes,'' Adams said. "I particularly have been fortunate to take over a program that Coach [Tom] Musselman built. I've been able to reap the benefits of that. Our kids work very hard.''
Lee, a senior, was a prohibitive No. 1 seed in the triple jump with a personal record 47 feet, inch. Already leading, he surpassed his PR by a inch on his next to last attempt, but he needed 47-2 for the meet record of Johnstown's Robert Vaney from 1989.
"I was pretty confident, but I still like to set goals for myself. I like to push myself,'' Lee said. "I was aiming for that district record.''
Lee, who had jumped 46-4 previous to his 47-0, was mostly jumping in the upper-45-foot range before the West Central meet.
"I've been working a lot on my technique, working on my phases and stressing speed down the runway, so I've had to move my steps back and little bit to try and go for it all,'' Lee said. "I'm going to try to work on my last phase, which is jumping into the pit. Sometimes I get flat, so I'm going to work on popping up and getting height.''
Lee had a big meet, getting the Lions second-place points in the 200 meters and the long jump, as well. He also was part of the winning 400 relay team that also included Stamford, Moyer and DeShae Lee; their 43.01 time would have qualified for states even had they not won the race.
Barnes has experienced an incredible range of highs and lows in his junior season. He came into the 100 dash seeded first with a sub-11-second time.
However, that time was posted very early in the year. Since then, Barnes has spent much of the year shelved with a nagging quadriceps injury. Barnes, though, put everything together when he needed it the most and held off Stamford to earn his way to states by winning the 100.
"I'm feeling good right now,'' Barnes said.
Barnes, who ran 11.12 in the preliminaries, posted an 11.17 in the finals, seven-hundredths of a second off the state qualifying standard and just as far in front of Stamford. Barnes said Stamford's challenge helped him and may have allowed him to turn around what could have been a season gone bad.
"I like running against him. He's tough,'' Barnes said. "[The season] could be better. Next year will be way better. I'm just working to get myself back.''
Just a freshman, Stamford rebounded from his loss in to Barnes by posting a 22.70 to edge DeRon Lee in the 200.
"I'm not used to this. It's hard to believe,'' Stamford said.
Stamford was in obvious discomfort when he did it, too. He's been fighting off a hip injury, then strained a groin at the end of the 100 finals.
"It was just determination. I knew if I pulled out, I'd let my team down. So I had to keep going,'' Stamford said. "I just wanted to place, because I knew my hip was bothering me during school.''
Mountain began running distance when he was in seventh grade.
"I was going to do pole vault, and they told me I was too small. I didn't weigh enough, so the distance coach called me over. I was not a natural. When I was starting off, I was about 4-foot-2,'' Mountain said. "I've come along way.''
Although he said he's now 5-7 "on a good day,'' Mountain ran big in the 3,200. He covered the two miles in 9:40.15, 10 seconds better than his previous best. Mountain, the highest seed because Endress and Lidwell didn't compete, didn't have a teammate to pace him as he did when he won at West Central and didn't have many competitors near him for the last couple of laps either, winning by nearly 5 seconds.
"I really wasn't thinking about time today. Running by yourself, you have to stay focused. You can't get into your own head that you're too slow on pace. I had a great day,'' Mountain said. "This means the world to me. I've never done anything like this.''
Pinter had known bitter disappointment, losing in a jump-off to teammates James Muir when he was a junior. It looked like history might repeat itself when neither he nor top seed Jake Shepherd of Lewistown cleared 6-3 in the high jump.
However, last year's loss turned out to be a big advantage for the Golden Tiger, who made his first attempt at 6-2. Shepherd then missed, and Pinter was on his way to states.
"I knew what was going on. I'd been there before, so I thought I could put pressure on him, like James put the pressure on me last year,'' Pinter said. "I felt that I could do it, and I was definitely motivated by the seeding. I just wanted to get a medal. I wanted to go to states.''
Seeded 1 inch behind Shepherd at 6-4, Pinter said he hadn't practiced in two weeks because of a strained back. He felt better about his chances when he found out Shepherd also was hurt, though, and his hopes were further buoyed when he then barely missed 6-3.
"I had it. It was there. I just tipped it at the last second. ... I thought it was a toss up,'' Pinter said. "I'm happy. I almost had it last year, and I wanted it. I'm excited.''
Two other Altoona performers punched their tickets to the PIAA meet by meeting state qualifying standards. Johnson recorded a 45-5 triple jump to finish second, while Evan Falbo pole vaulted a personal record 14-3 in coming in runner-up to Bellefonte's Quinn Eicher.
Altoona's Ryan Steinbugl was the top seed in the pole vault, having cleared 15-2 at the West Central. However, he was limited to 12-9 and a fourth-place finish on Thursday while battling calf cramps.
A couple of other Altoona top seeds were thwarted in their quest for district gold. Mandley came in seeded first in the 300 hurdles, but fell behind State College's Dan Collins early. Although he appeared ready to overtake Collins a couple of times in the last 50 meters, Mandley had to settle for second.
Premeet favorite Johnson, meanwhile, was third in the long jump behind State College's Joey Wagner - the sixth seed who jumped 2 feet better than his previous best - and Lee.
MEET NOTES: Endress and Hollidaysburg's Nick Shrift were recipient of the Blair County Chapter of PIAA Track and Field Officials Outstanding Performer Awards. ... State College's David Gordeuk was the only other double winner individually, finishing first in the shot put and discus.
KEY, TEAM SCORING: 1, A-Altoona, 273; 2, SC-193; 3 (tie), H-Hollidaysburg and L-Lewistown, 52; 5, CM-Central Mountain, 42; 6, B-Bellefonte, 35; 7, IV-Indian Valley, 26; 8, J-Johnstown, 21.
100 dash: 1, Barnes, A, 11.17; 2, Stamford, A, 11.24; 3, Murray, SC, 11.51; 4, Shrift, H, 11.52; 5, Appleman, H, 11.53; 6, Kellar, SC, 11.57; 7, Minter, J, 11.72; 8, Hill, A, 11.82.
200 dash: 1, Stamford, A, 22.70; 2, DeR. Lee, A, 23.05; 3, Healy, A, 23.21; 4, Kellar, SC, 23.52; 5, Appleman, H, 23.67; 6, Post, SC, 23.81; 7, Anderson, J, 24.17; 8, Randecker, CM, 24.25.
400 dash: 1, Shisler, SC, 50.59; 2, Shrift, H, 51.44; 3, Gipson, B, 51.66; 4, Steinbugl, A, 52.60; 5, Stoltz, A, 53.47; 6, Ventura, H, 53.83; 7, Juster, SC, 53.93; 8, Finochio, A, 53.96.
800 run: 1, Endress, A, 1:53.91 (new meet record); n 2, Jordan, SC, 1:56.16; 3, Lidwell, A, 2:00.45; 4, Wright, SC, 2:01.03; 5, Price, A, 2:02.12; 6, Moon, L, 2:04.81; 7, Kitchen, CM, 2:04.90; 8, Cather, SC, 2:05.27.
1600 run: 1, Endress, A, 4:17.37 (new meet record); n 2, Moon, L, 4:21.72; 3, P. Crowe, SC, 4:27.57; 4, Cather, SC, 4:31.52; 5, Lidwell, A, 4:34.56; 6, Replogle, A, 4:34.86; 7, Fisher, CM, 4:35.22; 8, Miller, L, 4:38.34.
3200 run: 1, Mountain, A, 9:40.15; 2, P. Crowe, SC, 9:45.08; 3, Colwell, IV, 9:49.74; 4, Monroe, IV, 9:54.79; 5, Replogle, A, 10:00.17; 6, J. Crowe, SC, 10:08.96; 7, Park, SC, 10:18.22; 8, Fisher, CM, 10:19.79.
110 hurdles: 1, Collins, SC, 15.32; 2, Mandley, A, 15.45; 3, Crouse, SC, 16.17; 4, Graffius, A, 16.58; 5, Swartz, B, 17.06; 6, Koeck, A, 17.23; 7, Heimbach, L, 17.95; 8, Baumgardner, IV, 18.45.
300 hurdles: 1, Collins, SC, 40.50; 2, Mandley, A, 40.64; 3, K. Johnson, A, 42.32; 4, Romanowicz, A, 43.25; 5, Crouse, SC, 43.67; 6, Biddle, H, 43.83; 7, Nestlerode, CM, 44.78; 8, Hauck, CM, 45.13.
400 relay: 1, Altoona (Stamford, DeR. Lee, Moyer, DeS. Lee), 43.01; 2, State College, 44.82; 3, Lewistown, 46.16; 4, Central Mountain, 46.82; 5, Indian Valley, 46.95; 6, Hollidaysburg, 48.93.
1600 relay: 1, Altoona (Mandley, Barnes, Moyer, Endress), 3:24.40; 2, State College, 3:27.62; 3, Hollidaysburg, 3:37.83; 4, Central Mountain, 3:44.92; 5, Bellefonte, 3:47.23; 6, Indian Valley, 3:57.07.
3200 relay: 1, Altoona (Lidwell, Price, Replogle, Endress), 8:11.92; 2, State College, 8:32.31; 3, Central Mountain, 8:35.12; 4, Bellefonte, 8:56.54; 5, Hollidaysburg, 9:12.97; 6, Lewistown, 9:40.09; 7, Indian Valley, 9:44.31.
High jump: 1, Pinter, H, 6-2; 2, Shepherd, L, 6-1; 3, K. Johnson, A, 6-1; 4, Watson, J, 6-1;5, Forziat, SC, 5-11; 6, McCloy, CM, 5-9; 7 (tie), Irwin, SC, and B. Johnson, A, 5-9.
Long jump: 1, Wagner, SC, 22-0; 2, DeR. Lee, A, 21-6; 3, K. Johnson, 20-11; 4, Lowber, L, 20-10; 5, Steinbugl, A, 20-8; 6, Randecker, CM, 20-7; 7, Minter, J, 19-11; 8, Shultz, B, 19-7.
Triple jump: 1, DeR. Lee, A, 47-0; n 2, K. Johnson, A, 45-5; n 3, Lowber, L, 44-7; 4, Randecker, CM, 42-6; 5, B. Johnson, A, 42-4; 6, King, SC, 39-7; 8, Wise, CM, 38-10.
Shot put: 1, Gordeuk, SC, 46-9; 2, Hawkins, A, 46-0; 3, Luciano, A, 44-11; 4, Posatko, SC, 42-6; 5, Baney, SC, 42-5; 6, Kutz, A, 41-3; 7, Eisenhuth, J, 40-3; 8, Kahley, IV, 40-2.
Discus: 1, Gordeuk, SC, 149-0; 2, Terrell, SC, 132-2; 3, Luciano, A, 122-4; 4, Cryder, CM, 118-3; 5, Specht, IV, 116-10; 6, Kutz, A, 116-8; 7, Hallinan, A, 112-4; 8, Villanueva, L, 110-1.
Javelin: 1, Hefkin, SC, 183-7; 2, Shalom, J, 160-8; 3, Thompson, A, 159-11; 4, Wileman, L, 153-3; 5, Irwin, SC, 153-3; 6, Scalice, 147-1; 7, Perryman, B, 144-5; 8, Weigand, A, 142-11.
Pole vault: 1, Eicher, B, 14-9; n Falbo, SC, 14-3; 3, Stratton, A, 13-3; 4, R. Steinbugl, A, 12-9; 5, Terry, L,12-9; 6, Bone, B, 12-9; 7, Baser, H, 12-9; 8, Swisher, SC, 12-3.
n - advanced to PIAA Championships by meeting state-qualifying standard