SHIPPENSBURG - Jeremy Posey turned something designed into helping him stay in shape for basketball into a very profitable venture.
Posey, the 6-foot-6 senior from Huntingdon Area High School who will play on the hardwood for California University of Pa., took home two medals from the PIAA Track and Field Championships this weekend, including a bronze in the Class AA high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 6 inches on Saturday.
Posey's showing was among the best for area boys on Saturday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium along with Tyrone's Nick Patton claiming silver in the Class AA 200 dash and Altoona's Wade Endress winning the bronze in the Class AAA 800. In addition to Endress, Patton and Bellwood-Antis' Brian Leap winning or taking part in two top-eight efforts on the second and final day of the meet (see related story), Central's Dan Hoover finished fourth in the Class AA 110-meter hurdles, and Chestnut Ridge's Matt Dull and Northern Bedford's Zach Pressel were fifth in the Class AA 300 hurdles and Class AA high jump, respectively.
"I was hoping to go for the gold, but, it being my first year, I'm happy with the bronze,'' Posey said.
Posey entered the event as one of 12 high jumpers tied for the fourth seed by virtue of jumping 6-4 at their respective district meets. However, Posey said he'd cleared 6-8 in practice early in the season, a mark he was hoping to achieve again.
Had he made that height, Posey would have accomplished his goal: Forest Hills' Luke Gallaher repeated as PIAA champ by clearing 6-7. Four others made 6-5, including Pressel.
According to Posey, he wasn't a natural in the event. It was pure athletic ability.
"I really don't have any form,'' Posey said. "It's just how I can jump.''
Formerly a baseball player, Posey said he just went out for track and field this spring for fun and didn't foresee continuing it along with playing basketball at Cal. However, he did enjoy his weekend in Shippensburg; he was fifth in the triple jump Friday.
"It's awesome being here, just around all these people in this atmosphere,'' Posey said. "It was pretty fun.''
Posey only missed out on second to Monessen's Jaisen Irwin because of missed attempts. That was the same reason Pressel was fifth instead of fourth; both he and Williamson's Josh Beach cleared 6-5.
The previous best jump of Pressel's career was 6-4, which he had at the District 5 meet. He's just a sophomore.
"I thought I was pretty close [to making 6-6]. I thought I had it on my first [attempt],'' Pressel said. "I was hoping to get 6-4 without scratching, because Coach [Jeff] Batzel told me if I could do that there was a good chance I could medal.''
Pressel began high jumping in eighth grade, when the Panther junior high coaches through him into the event and he broke the team's record in his first meet.
"I don't really get too nervous at these things. I was just thinking about it a lot,'' Pressel said. "I need to improve my time and when to snap my legs back.''
Hoover clocked in at 15.27 seconds in the finals. Summit Academy's Cyniel Hinton won the race with a 14.99.
"If you would have told me last year that I was going to be fourth in the state, I would have said you're crazy,'' Hoover said. "From 15.7 last year to what I've accomplished this year, it just feels great.''
Not being a serious contender even for districts before his senior season, all the work Hoover put in to improve over the offseason, which included running in the snow around his house, was a labor of love.
"As you're doing that, you start to wonder, 'Is this every going to pay off?' But you just have to keep asking yourself, 'What do you think the other good guys are doing?''' said Hoover, who is being recruited by California of Pa. and Juniata. "I love the 110s. It's my favorite thing I've ever done. It's such a joy.''
Hoover ran a 15.36 in the semifinals, finishing second in his heat. However, it literally did not have a promising start.
"I was kind of worried, because, in the semifinals, I was last through the first hurdle, and my start's usually my strongest point. But mental toughness came in. I just had to get myself in the right mindset,'' Hoover said.
Dull crossed the finish line in 39.99 to pick up his fifth-place medal. You'd have thought, though, that he won from the loud cheer that went up when his name was announced.
"My whole family, well, not all of them, but a lot of them are here. I'd say there's about 20 up there,'' Dull said, chuckling as he looked toward the grandstand. "It felt good. It felt good. It felt real good.''
Dull has been running fairly consistently in the upper-39-second range, recording a personal best of 39.50 at the District 5 meet and a 39.67 in Friday's preliminaries. He only missed fourth place by three-hundredths of a second.
"We were kind of hoping that would happen. I'd be running the second meet of the year, and Coach would say, 'You've got plenty of time. Don't worry. You'll get that.' He just kept pushing me, and I'm happy he kept pushing,'' Dull said. "Getting up here and running, they say it gets easier every year, so, maybe next year, I'll come up and win it.''
Hollidaysburg's Anthony Pinter and Bellwood-Antis' Deryk Montgomery just missed medals in the Class AAA high jump and Class AA 800 run, respectively, both finishing ninth. Pinter achieved 6 feet, 4 inches, which put him in a five-way tie. Montgomery led for most of the early portion of his race but trailed off and wound up with a time of 2:01.35.
"I was pleased with my time. ... I just didn't have enough to get eighth place. My plan was to get out in front and try to hold my position, but they had a little more than I did,'' Montgomery said.
Montgomery's teammate, Seth Worthing, was knocked out of the Class AA 100 dash competition in the semifinals. He posted an 11.74 sprint, finishing eighth in his heat.
Dull and Penn Cambria's Ian Lewis bowed out of the Class AA 110 hurdles in the semifinals, finishing sixth and seventh in the same heat. Dull clocked 15.83, Lewis 15.91.
Altoona pole vaulter Evan Falbo was one of six Class AAA competitors tied for 13th place in the event with a height of 13-6.
Cambria Heights' Zack Prohonic came in 20th in the Class AA long jump, jumping 19-11.
Altoona's Dylan Mountain took 23rd in the Class AAA two-mile run, registering a time of 10:02.76. His personal record was 9:40.15 at the District 6 meet.
Bedford's Colin Coffield placed 24th in the Class AA 3,200 meters, clocking 11:11.61. He ran 10:25.28 at districts.