LOYSBURG - Olympian Brian Sell has been at the heart of a distance running renaissance in the area over the last dozen years that has seen the likes of Sonja Hinish, Emily Ingle, the Seymour sisters, Stephanie Blackstone and Wade Endress excel at the every possible level.
It looks like Sell's alma mater of Northern Bedford is in the midst of producing the next in that line.
Sophomore Maria Snyder provided the highlight of the night for area girls performers at Northern Bedford High School's Panther Community Stadium on Friday, breaking District 5 Track and Field Championship Meet records in the mile and two-mile runs.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Northern Bedford’s Maria Snyder stays ahead of Everett’s Alex Zanella to win the 1,600-meter run on Friday night.
Snyder's teammate, German exchange student Esther Wind, added to the Lady Panthers' record-breaking effort in the distance runs by establishing a new meet mark in the 800 before helping the NBC 1,600-meter relay punch its ticket to states. Meanwhile, the Lady Panthers' Leah Hershberger captured the long jump.
Bedford edged Northern for the team title behind a pair of individual wins by Ashley Waugerman, Brittany Kidd's pole vault victory, Carrie Baker's triumph in the pole vault and two first-place relays.
Everett junior Theole Feuillett was the only other area girl to qualify for the PIAA championships, winning the discus. Only event champions and those achieving a state qualifying standard will continue their seasons at the state meet next weekend at Shippensburg University.
"I was just going in with the idea to just go for times, see what I could do with them, and whatever happened, happened,'' Snyder said, barely breathing hard. "I was pretty happy with my times.''
As she should be. Snyder ran the mile in 5 minutes, 9.67 seconds to break the one-year-old record of Everett's Alex Zanella by a little less than 2 seconds. Snyder's time was 9 seconds under the state qualifying standard.
Zanella finished second at 5:19.07.
Snyder came back to finish second to Wind's record-setting time in the 800, but showed no ill effects after a short break, shattering the seven-year-old mark of 11:49.11 in the two-mile with an 11:17.58.
The blistering pace she set had her lapping some of her competition by the halfway mark. Macey Hollenshead of Southern Fulton's was second in 12:41.88.
Both times were in line with those posted earlier this week at the District 6 Class AA meet by Homer-Center's Angel Piccirillo, who set two state records last May. In fact, Snyder's 3,200-meter time would have gotten her the silver medal if run it at states last year.
Not bad for a girls whose best finish at the 2010 district meet was sixth and who starting running distance by walking to help her mother after hip surgery rehab.
"I didn't imagine this. Not at all,'' Snyder said. "Last summer, I really worked on my speed, and I really, really trained, because that's what I lacked last year. I could run a long time, but I didn't have the quickness.''
Snyder has met Sell.
"I really look at him as a role model,'' Snyder said. "He told me to always keep trying. He's sent me some cards and stuff.''
Not a runner back in her homeland, Wind set her sights on Chloe Mapes' one-year-old District 5 record of 2:23.48 in the half-mile after finding some success early in the year. She beat it easily with a 2:21.80. Snyder ran 2:24.01.
"I felt confident. I was just going to go out there are give it my best, and, either way, it was going to be fine,'' Wind said.
Despite not growing up around here, Wind said winning meant a lot to her, and it also had an impact on her future plans.
"For me, it's a big thing, because I am thinking of coming back here and getting a scholarship. So, I kind of had it in the back of my head to do this good for my future,'' Wind said. "I'm definitely going to do track when I get back to Germany.''
Wind finished the meet on the third leg of the winning 1,600 relay, following Alyssa Smith and Katie Reighard before handing off to Hershberger.
As a senior, Waugerman was getting her last chance to qualify for the state meet in an individual event - she was a relay alternate in 2010. She met her goal twice by winning the 100 meters and 200 meters.
"It makes me happy that I get to go to states finally as an individual in two things,'' Waugerman, the top seed at both distances, said. "Coach [Brian] Creps had speed camp in the summer. I spent all winter working with my coaches. It was just speed, speed, speed, and I think it helped me. It was hard work, but it paid off. This is the best feeling in the world.''
Waugerman's 12.97-second 100 was a personal record and almost three-tenths of a second better than anyone else. She just missed a PR in the 200 by running a 27.22.
While she felt the longer distance was her stronger, Waugerman also felt it was her biggest challenge to pulling off a daily double.
"Usually, I'm not as nervous for it. Today was completely different,'' Waugerman said. "There's Leah Hershberger from Northern. There's Jarica Seese [from Chestnut Ridge]. I think there was more competition in the 200. And I was distracted by some people. They said, 'You got this. You got this.' It made me nervous.''
Waugerman also teamed with Kidd, Kelly Beegle and Mikayla May for a first-place finish in the 400 relay. They clocked in at 51.37.
For someone as accomplished as Kidd in the pole vault, the district championship held special significance. Although she was a West Central Coaches Meet champion, and multi-time Laurel Highlands Conference record-setter and finished 10th at states last year, Kidd had never worn District 5 gold before.
"It means a lot. It seems like I've had everything but,'' Kidd said. "Winning WCCs and not this seemed kind of weird, so it feels good to finally have this medal.''
Kidd's victory was far from a surprise; she checked in as the highest seed by more than a foot. The Marietta College-bound Bedford senior made it interesting by missing her first try at 9 feet, 6 inches, but only Everett's Kiera Bair cleared that height, anyway. Kidd cleared 10-6 and took a couple of unsuccessful tries at a district record of 11-1.
"I was nervous. I guess I shouldn't have been, because not many people were at that close, but I hadn't won districts before, so I really wanted to win,'' Kidd said.
Baker punched her ticket to states in the very first final of the day, the 3,200 relay, when she held off Wind down the last straightaway to send the Lady Bison team that also included Chelsea Diehl, Beegle and Hannah Grimes to Shippensburg in a bit of a surprise. Bedford's 10:00.67 was 18 seconds ahead of its seed time and 2 seconds better than the Lady Panthers.
Baker added an individual championship to her resume later with a 34-2 in her first attempt in the triple jump. Tussey Mountain's Jordan Kaminsky was second at 33-3.
"I just wanted to do my personal best today,'' said Baker, who accomplished that by 1 inch.
Just a sophomore, Baker said the key to her doing well is just to stay calm, and she has a novel way of doing that.
"I have to relax and think about fluffy bunnies,'' Baker said with a grin. "I had a bad meet one day, and my coach told me to think about something I liked that would make me relax. I was like, 'Oh. Fluffy bunnies.'''
Bedford won the team championship by 4 points over Northern Bedford, 88-83. Waugerman led the way with her wins in the 100 and 200.
"We knew it was going to be really tight,'' Creps said. "Our team depth really showed through tonight with our placewinners in the field. Kelly Beegle placing second in the javelin was really big. The field events really helped carry us through.''
Hershberger had already wrapped up the long jump when she leaped 16-4 on her last attempt to best her best effort of the season by 1 inches.
"It's exciting. I'm excited to go to states, Hershberger said.
Like Snyder, Hershberger is a sophomore, so Northern Bedford should be in good shape to continue challenging for D5 team titles.
"We have an amazing sophomore class. We're all friends, and we all want each other to do well,'' Hershberger said.
Third-seeded Feuillett, an Everett junior, won the discus with a throw of 91-5. Carlee Bussard was second by 3 inches; Bussard was tied with Feuillett's sister, Nicole, for the high seed at 94-4, with Theole Feuillett 2 inches behind.
Ridge's Leanna Showalter came in the No. 1 seed in the high jump at 5-4 but finished second to McConnellsburg's Nikki Fleming. Both jumped 5-0, but Fleming won the event on misses.
KEY, TEAM SCORING: 1, BED-Bedford, 88; 2, NB-Northern Bedford, 83 1/3; 3, E-Everett, 63; 4, SF-Southern Fulton, 54; 5, TM-Tussey Mountain, 53; 6, W-Windber, 47 1/3; 7, MY-Meyersdale, 47; 8, BB-Berlin Brothersvalley, 45; 9, CR-Chestnut Ridge, 29; 10, MB-McConnellsburg, 21; 11, FM-Fannett-Metal, 15; 12, CT-Conemaugh Township, 10 1/3; 13, SH-Shade, 1.
100 dash: 1, Waugerman, BED, 12.97; 2, Eutsey, BB, 13.24; 3, Smith, CR, 13.34; 4, Hittie, BB, 13.37; 5, Seese, CR, 13.38; 6, Vaughn, MY, 13.64.
200 dash: 1, Waugerman, BED, 27.22; 2, Luprek, BB, 27.89; 3, Hershberger, NB, 27.92; 4, Eutsey, BB, 27.92; 5, Seese, CR, 28.15; 6, Smith, CR, 28.96.
400 dash: 1, Bard, SF, 59.91; 2, Baker, BED, 1:02.43; 3, Coffman, TM, 1:03.12; 4, Barton, E, 1:03.64; 5, Strayer, MB, 1:04.31; 6, Smith, NB, 1:04.95.
800 run: 1, Wind, NB 2:21.80 (new meet record); 2, Snyder, NB, 2:24.01; 3, Trulick, BB, 2:27.16; 4, Coffman, TM, 2:29.39; 5, Bard, SF, 2:31.32; 6, Diehl, BED, 2:31.40.
1600 run: 1, Snyder, NB, 5:09.67 (new meet record); 2, Zanella, E, 5:19.07; 3, Feathers, W, 5:32.60; 4, M. Hollenshead, SF, 5:39.41; 5, Foster, TM, 5:49.72; 6, J. Hollenshead, SF, 5:58.01.
3200 run: 1, Snyder, NB 11:17.58 (new meet record); 2, M. Hollenshead, 12:41.88; 3, Beatty, SF, 12:48.04; 4, Deneen, SF, 13:06.45; 5, Boyer, CT, 13:07.71; 6, Yingling, BED, 13:36.24.
100 hurdles: 1, McMullen, W, 16.30; 2, Long, MY, 16.52; 3, Truax, SF, 17.00; 4, Weyant, CR, 17.13; 5, Dunmeyer, MY, 17.54.
300 hurdles: 1, Long, MY, 48.63; 2, Lynn, TM, 49.75; 3, McMullen, W, 49.80; 4, Bard, SF, 49.96; 5, Dunmeyer, MY, 50.44; 6, Gearhart, TM, 50.58.
400 relay: 1, Bedford (Waugerman, Kidd, Beegle, May), 51.37; 2, Berlin Brothersvalley, 51.93; 3, Chestnut Ridge, 52.36; 4, Meyersdale, 53.16; 5, Everett, 54.08; 6, Windber, 54.16.
1600 relay: 1, Northern Bedford (Smith, Reighard, Wind, Hershberger), 4:12.88; 2, Evertt, 4:15.32; 3, Bedford, 4:16.94; 4, Windber, 4:17.32; 5, Tussey Mountain, 4:19.10; 6, Southern Fulton, 4:20.91.
3200 relay: 1, Bedford (Diehl, Beegle, Grimes, Baker), 10:00.67; 2, Northern Baker, 10:02.74; 3, Tussey Mountain, 10:15.40; 4, Windber, 10:35.49; 5, Southern Fulton, 10:48.53; 6, Meyersdale, 11:08.12.
High jump: 1, Fleming, MB, 5-0; 2, Showalter, CR, 5-0; 3, Vena, M, 4-10; 4, (tie), Beahr, W, Cottle, NB, and Lischerelli, CT, 4-8.
Long jump: 1, Hershberger, NB, 16-4; 2, Beegle, E, 15-8; 3, Hiravi, CT, 15-2; 4, Sigler, BED, 14-10; 5, Vena, MY, 14-9; 6, Vaughn, MY, 14-6.
Triple jump: 1, Baker, BED, 34-2; 2, Kaminsky, TM, 33-3; 3, M. Hollenshead, SF, 33-3; 4, Vena, MY, 33-2; 5, Will, BB, 33-0; 6, Reid, BB, 33-0.
Shot put: 1, Effland, FM, 32-2; 2, Bussard, TM, 31-8; 3, T. Feuillet, E, 30-10; 4, Strapple, W, 30-1; 5, Dick, NB, 30-0; 6, Swope, FM, 29-9.
Discus: 1, T. Feuillet, E, 91-5; 2, Bussard, TM, 91-2; 3, Daniels, M, 87-9; 4, Swope, FM, 87-0; 5, Lazsubski, BED, 85-5; 6, N. Feuillett, E, 84-1.
Javelin: 1, Strapple, W, 125-1; 2, Steckman, E, 102-7; 3, Beegle, BED, 102-7; 4, Dunn, BB, 100-0; 5, Daughton, MY, 98-11; 6, Berkebile, SH, 92-9.
Pole vault: 1, Kidd, BED, 10-6; 2, Bair, E, 9-6; 3, Batzel, NB, 8-6; 4, Long, MY, 8-6; 5, Ramsey, MB, 8-0; 6, Nero, MB, 8-0.
n - advanced to PIAA Championships by meeting state-qualifying standard