SHIPPENSBURG - Maria Snyder didn't want to leave her spot in the Class AA mile run finals to chance.
Considering the kind of day it was for the other girls from the area, it was probably advisable she didn't take any chances.
Snyder, the Northern Bedford High School sophomore, was one of just a handful of area girls to advance to the semifinals or finals on the first day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships Friday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium, turning out a strong performance in the 1,600-meter run.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Central Cambria’s Kendall Seymour is knocked off course at the start of the Class AA 3,200 relay preliminary race.
Only four other girls or relay teams from schools in the area made it into today's races, and no area girls medaled on the track, although a couple came agonizingly close.
Unlike many of her peers, Snyder, making her first trip to states, had modest goals.
"I like going up against the best competition. My goal was just to get here and see what happened,'' Snyder said.
Instead, Snyder ended up looking like one of the best competitors. Seeded fourth in the mile entering the meet, Snyder eclipsed her seeded time of 5 minutes, 9.67 seconds in the Class AA mile by running 5:08.20. It was the second best time of the day.
"I feel really great. I'm so excited,'' Snyder said. "I went all out. Some of them can just do that and know that they'll be there. I knew I had to run my full out to get in there. I wasn't sure if I'd get in. I wasn't really thinking about it,'' Snyder said. "My goal was just to stay with [the leaders]. I wasn't expecting [to be a leader].''
Snyder led most of the race before South Fayette senior Nicole Hilton caught her at the very end. Hilton crossed the finish in 5:07.84.
"I was nervous about the start, because I'm not very good at starting. But, once I got out, I felt a lot better,'' Snyder said.
Snyder and Central Cambria's Kendall Seymour are in line for multiple medals today in the distance runs. Both will compete in the Class AA 3,200 run, where Snyder is seeded second.
The Central Cambria girls 3,200 relay consisting of Seymour, Alyssa Brandis, Emily Wright and Ashley Stump is still alive for a Class AA medal, advancing to today's finals automatically by finishing fourth in its heat. Its time was 9:48.98, more than 5 seconds off its pace from the District 6 meet. Three teams ran under 9:40.
Twelve teams made it through the prelims. The top eight finishers today will medal.
Altoona's Kelly Davis and Huntingdon's Natalie Isett ran their way into the 100 dash semifinals by posting qualifying times despite not finishing in the top three of their respective races. Davis was fifth in her Class AAA heat with a 12.43. Isett ran 12.81 to notch a fourth-place finish in her Class AA heat.
Northern Bedford's Esther Wind is one of 12 left in contention for a Class AA medal in the 800 meters. She finished seventh in her heat with a 2:20.53, but that was good enough to nail down the third out of four at-large qualifying spots.
It was, however, a very difficult day for area girls on the whole. After moving to the semis in the 100, Davis was knocked out of the 200 by a false start. It typified the way things went for most.
Seeded in the top 10 in each of the Class AAA hurdles coming in, Altoona's Nikki Kerns was eliminated in the preliminaries in both and summed up the frustration.
"You can't blame it on the weather. It was hot, but I just didn't perform,'' Kerns said. "I felt fine. I just couldn't do it.''
Kerns turned in a time of 46.03 seconds in the 300 hurdles but needed at least a 44.79 to advance. She was fourth in a heat in which Abington's Leah Nugent came up 13-hundredths of a second from the PIAA meet record by finishing in 41.77.
Kerns ran a 15.79 in the 100 hurdles, which was fifth in her heat and tied for 17th overall.
Preliminaries and finals were contested in half of the field events, but the area came away devoid of first-day medals.
Although both were seeded in the top eight, neither Bedford's Brittany Kidd nor Huntingdon's Bethany Ledford were able to finish in the medals in the Class AA pole vault, finishing as part of a three-way tie for ninth by making 10 feet, 6 inches. Kidd and her coach, Brian Creps, thought 10-6 would be the magic height to medal, and she made 10-6 in her first attempt. However, six of the medalists vaulted at least 11-0.
The Robert Morris-bound Ledford, who was fifth last year, cleared 11-0 only to have her pole take out the bar while she was already on the mat.
In the afternoon field finals, Ledford and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's Kate Meck both went out at 5-0 in the Class AA high jump. They were part of an 11-way tie for 13th place. Hickory's Lauren Lubarski was the gold medalist on misses over Northwestern's Nicole Lockard after both achieved 5-4.
Philipsburg-Osceola's Alison Patrick and Northern Bedford's Leah Hershberger were sidelined before the Class AA long jump finals. Patrick's top jump was 16-6, which placed her in a tie for 13th. Hershberger's best jump was 15-3, which put her in 23rd.
Altoona freshman Abby Wagner registered a best distance of 15-6 in the Class AAA long jump. Wagner was 28th.
Everett's Theole Feuillet was 25th in the Class AA discus, in which her best throw was 76-11.
The following other competitors were eliminated in Friday's track trials:
n The Bedford 3,200 relay of Chelsea Diehl, Kelly Beegle, Hannah Grimes and Carrie Baker was 14th in its Class AA heat with a 10:20.55.
n Ashley Waugerman of Bedford was sixth in her Class AA 100 meters race. She ran 13.01.
n Patrick ran a 1:00.31 in the Class AA 400. She needed a 58.11 to make it into the finals.
n Kidd and her Bedford 400 relay team of Ashley Waugerman, Kelly Beegle and Mikayla May posted their second best time of the season at 51.91, but it was only good for sixth in their heat.
n Central Cambria's Stump ran a 2:26.02 in the Class AA 800, placing ninth in her heat and about 5 seconds over what she needed to make the finals.
n Patrick and Waugerman finished fourth and seventh in their respective heats of the Class AA 200 meters. Patrick only missed qualifying for the semis by 13-hundredths of a second by clocking 26.84. Waugerman ran 28.24.
n Northern Bedford's 1,600 relay of Alyssa Smith, Katie Reighard, Hershberger and Wind bested its seeded time of 4:12.88 by 22-hundredths of a second, although it still placed the Lady Panthers just eighth in their heat.