SHIPPENSBURG - It was apparent very early on that the boys Class AA triple jump was a competition for second.
In that regard, Brian Leap was first.
"You want to come in and do the best you can. But second's great. I can't be any happier,'' Leap, the Bellwood-Antis High School senior, said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bellwood-Antis’ Brian Leap places second in the Class AA triple jump.
Leap's silver medal in the triple jump to record-setting Jarred Gambrell of Athens headlined the first day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships for area jumping, throwing and vaulting competitors Friday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium.
Meanwhile, Central's Derek Nothstein rebounded from disappointment at the District 6 meet to leave states with a bronze medal in the Class AA javelin. Huntingdon's Jeremy Posey and Chestnut Ridge's Michael Young both medaled, as well, also competing in the AA triple jump.
It was obvious early that bettering his second seed coming in wasn't going to be in the cards for Leap from the first jumps of his flight. Leap's best jump of the season was just shy of 48 feet. Gambrell jumped better than 49 on his first attempt, then broke the PIAA meet record with a 49-foot, 10-inch distance on his second try.
Gambrell broke the meet record four times, winding up with a long result of 50-1.
Leap, though, had his hands full to get second. G.A.R.'s Darrell Crawford jumped 46-7, and Brookville's Vinny Dougherty tied Leap behind Gambrell at 46-7 heading into the B-A jumper's last try.
Leap, though, rose to the occasion, getting a 46-8 to wrap up the silver and significantly improve his eighth-place medal as a junior.
"That was definitely the goal, to get a couple more inches,'' Leap said. "I just had to extend everything and do the best I could.''
Leap is hoping he's not done, either. He'll be in the high jump and long jump today, and is part of a 1,600-meter relay with Seth Worthing, Andrew DeGol and Deryk Montgomery that is in the final eight after finishing second in its heat with a school-record time of 3:25.85.
"Definitely, triple is my strength, so I want to do my best in that. But I'm just going to try to do my best in my other two events,'' said Leap, who intends to try to walk on at Penn State.
Four of the nine finalists in the Class AA triple jump were from the area. In addition to Leap, Posey placed fifth at 46-4, while Young was seventh at 45-2. Cambria Heights junior Zach Prohonic made it out of the flights but missed out on a medal, his best effort being 44-0.
"Some of these kids were here last year, and the distances this year were more competitive than last year,'' Leap said. "It was great.''
Posey set a personal record with his medal-winning jump by 1 inches on his final attempt and also jumped 45-10. However, when asked about his PR, Posey needed to have the term explained; he didn't know what a PR was because his senior year was also his first out for track.
"I didn't even think I would make it to states in my first year. I was just happy to be here,'' Posey said.
The 6-6 Posey, who is going to California, Pa. to play basketball, will try for a second medal today with Leap in the high jump. Despite it being his first time competing at states, he wasn't intimidated by the surroundings.
"I was pretty calm. I knew there were going to be a lot of people here. I came up here my sophomore year to watch Sean Houck throw the javelin, so I was ready for it,'' Posey said. "I was trying to speed it up coming down the runway and trying to slow it up at the end.''
Making his first appearance at states, Young shook his head when asked about what it was like to go up against Gambrell.
"I'm in awe. It's like, 'Shake my hand. Maybe some of your ability will rub off on me,''' Young joked.
It couldn't hurt. Young, a junior like Prohonic, missed his personal record by 2 inches.
"It was good. I was happy. It wasn't my best of the year. It just lets you know you have to work harder. With the adrenaline and everything, I wished I would have jumped a little better, and I think I would have if I didn't scratch on some jumps. But you take what you can get,'' Young said. "[My brother] said, 'Get higher than me.' There's always that sibling rivalry, so I had to beat him.''
Young was taking off with his family later in the day for a trip to Hawaii. It was a family trip to England a couple of years ago that may have cost his older brother, T.J., a state pole vault medal.
"It's a queasy feeling [making it to states for the first time]. You get the same feeling at districts, but, down here, it's multiplied by 100,'' Young said.
Sixth in the state in the Class AA javelin last season as a junior, Nothstein definitely had some unfinished business and added motivation after coming in second to Bellwood-Antis' Jared Minori after being the top seed in the District 6 meet.
"After districts, I was really disappointed in myself. I expected a lot better,'' Nothstein said. "I just went back to the basics. Coach [Bob] Chonko came with me, and I threw at Mansion [Park] a little bit. I think just being with him really helped get me back on track and got me focused.''
Nothstein, who exceeded 190 feet early in the year, threw a 186-6 that would have been good enough for fifth. However, on his last try, he fired a toss of 188-10.
"Considering what I was seeded, I'm pretty happy,'' Nothstein said.
Nothstein did it while looking like a physical therapist's dream, or maybe nightmare. He was wearing kinesiotape to help with the labrum he tore late in football season and a brace for his chronic bad back.
"Some days it hurts. Some days I don't feel very good. But you just have to fight through it,'' Nothstein said. "I wasn't feeling that great [at districts]. I was tired, and my arm wasn't feeling that great.''
As in the triple jump, it was established early that the battle would be for second place. Northeast Bradford's Rob Robbins uncorked a meet record of 221-6 on his very first throw. New Brighton's Bryce Lemon was second at 197-6.
"When you first think about it, you're like, 'Man, that's far,''' Nothstein, who is planning to continue throwing next year at Shippensburg University, said. "But you've just got to focus on what you've got to do.''
Minori just missed out on the finals - his throw of 178-0 was 1 inch out of the top nine needed to get out of the flights.
Minori finished 19th in the Class AA shot with a best toss of 47-6. Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson checked in at 21st in the event at 44-10.
Altoona's duo of senior DeRon Lee and junior Kevin Johnson in the Class AAA triple jump was unsuccessful in its bid to make the finals. Lee, whose jumping was interrupted as he took part in the 400 relay, placed 15th with a 44-9 - he came in as the fourth seed and had leaped better than 47 feet at both the West Central Coaches Meet and the District 6 championships.
Johnson, a sophomore, wound up 18th at 44-7. Only two jumpers reached 47 feet, and Reading's Imani Brown won easily with a 48-7.
Northern Cambria's Tony Rocco was one of six Class AA pole vaulters tied for ninth at 13-0.