Williamsburg's Mike Biddle received a taste of state track competition last season as a sophomore and wasn't too pleased with the results.
Despite finishing just off the Class AA medal stand in the javelin by placing ninth, Biddle left Shippensburg University with a goal to return in the future and give a better showing.
"I didn't do too well there last year,'' Biddle said. "It was cold and rainy. I'm determined to do a lot better this year.''
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Northern Cambria’s Gus Yahner broke a 31-year-old record in the pole vault with a jump of 15 feet, 3 inches.
Biddle's quest began impressively on Tuesday at Mansion Park where he repeated as the javelin champion with a personal-best throw at the rain-shortened District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championships. The event was postponed after nine of the 18 boys events due to severe thunderstorms and is scheduled to be completed at 4 p.m. today, barring more rain.
Biddle was one of 11 boys athletes from the Mirror coverage area to qualify in individual events - including Northern Cambria senior Gus Yahner with a record-setting performance in the pole vault - for next weekend's state championships, along with two relay teams. The AA event winners, along with second- and third-place finishers gained automatic berths to states.
Biddle will be joined by Yahner, Tyrone senior James Oliver (100-meter dash), Central Cambria junior Will Seymour (shot put), Penn Cambria junior Garrett Sutton (1600 run) and Huntingdon junior Kobren Frederick (long jump) as event champions. In addition, Bishop Carroll's Matt Karlheim (third in the 100 dash), Williamsburg's Bryce England (second in the 1600), Portage's Chris Onder (second in the 110 hurdles), Bellwood-Antis' Matt McMillan (third in the 300 hurdles) and Bellwood's Nick Torsell (second in the javelin) also punched their tickets, as well as the Bellwood champion 3200 relay and Central Cambria runner-up 3200 relay.
Biddle, a Junior Olympic national champion, had thrown the javelin 193 feet, 6 1/2 inches last week at the Inter-County Conference meet in Bellwood. At districts, he saved his best for last with a throw of 195-7 on his final attempt of the meet.
"I felt a little bit nervous before the meet,'' said Biddle, who was a prohibitive favorite in the event. "You don't want to scratch on your first three attempts. The first one, I threw 183, and it felt pretty good. I thought it would be a good day.''
Biddle said he's been throwing since ninth grade and has gotten help from his older brother, Dakota, and former Central High School standout Derek Nothstein. Dakota Biddle was the former record holder at Williamsburg.
Yahner is now the D6-AA pole vault record holder after clearing 15 feet, 3 inches to break a mark that had stood for more than 30 years. Bellwood's Rudy Bilka held the old record of 14-6 since 1983.
"The first thing I wanted today was to get 13-6 to qualify for states,'' Yahner said. "And then I wanted to try for the record.''
Yahner cleared 13-6 on his first attempt and then broke the record at 14-7. He solidified his mark by clearing 15-3 and should be in the running for a high medal at states. He finished sixth at states last year at 13-0 and was the runner-up at districts with the same height.
"Last year I was consistent in the 14s until districts and states,'' Yahner said. "This year, I've been around 14-6 pretty consistently, but I [set a personal record] in the last two meets.''
Frederick has been peaking recently as well with a strong showing at the Mountain League meet last week and followed it up with a 21-6 to win the long jump at districts.
Frederick was seeded ninth and mildly surprised the field by reaching a distance that was nearly 2 feet farther than he had gone before. He won by less than 1 inch over Richland's Michael Somiari.
"I figured, 'what's to lose?''' Frederick said. "I was the ninth seed, so I just went out and did my best.''
Huntingdon doesn't have a jumping coach, but it hasn't deterred Frederick from improving his leaps. He said he's watched a lot of YouTube videos to perfect his form.
"I'm going to keep working,'' he said. "I think I can keep going farther.''
Seymour also set a personal-best in his event with a throw of 49-5 3/4 in the shot put. He came into the meet as the third seed with a previous best of 48-3 but eclipsed that early with his second throw.
"I like to put [a long] one out there early,'' Seymour said. "Then, everyone else will be saying, 'let's go,' because the first couple of throws you're waiting for someone to throw a good one. I felt pretty comfortable once I threw it 49-5.''
Seymour has been to the state meet before but only to watch his older sisters - Carly, Kelsey and Kendall - compete in running events. This will be his first time competing himself.
"I would love to throw farther at states,'' Seymour said. "I'd like to get 50. Maybe the competition there will help me.''
The competition helped Oliver and Sutton on Tuesday. Just before the rains hit, Oliver, who had the third-best time in the 100 prelims, stormed to a first-place finish in the finals with an 11.27. And Sutton held of England to win the 1600 run in 4:30.40 and will get a chance to add to his medals today in the 800, which he is top-seeded.
"I was hoping to win [the 1600] coming in,'' Sutton said. "I'm somewhat surprised I won - I guess not too surprised. I'm just very happy with my finish.''
Bellwood, which had won the previous three district team titles, got the meet going successfully with a victory in the 3200-meter by shaving 11 seconds off its previous best time. The team of junior Aaron Mogle, junior Kyler Lardieri, sophomore Noah D'Angelo and senior Alex Bartlett won with a time of 8:32.12.
D'Angelo took the lead on the third leg, and Bartlett made sure no one was going to catch him on the final leg. Central Cambria's team of Mike Walwro, Bryce Descavish, Javaunte Neumann and Jonah Lambie finished second.
"I thought they had the potential,'' B-A coach Nick Lovrich said. "The weather was great [at the beginning], it was the first event, and they had five days to rest and recover from a hard season. We run a lot of meets, and getting rest is just as important. They benefited from that.''
Bellwood currently sits in third place in the team standings behind Richland and Juniata.
RESULTS THROUGH NINE OF 18 EVENTS
Key, team standings: 1. R-Richland, 41; 2, J-Juniata, 39; 3, BA-Bellwood-Antis, 31; 4, CC-Central Cambria, 18; 4, WL-Williamsburg, 18; 6, HD-Huntingdon, 16; 7, SJ-St. Joseph's Academy, 15; 8, NC-Northern Cambria, 14; 8, PC-Penn Cambria, 14; 10, BC-Bishop Carroll, 13; 10, HC-Homer-Center, 13; 12, FH-Forest Hills, 12; 12, T-Tyrone, 12; 14, LV-Ligonier Valley, 11; 14, PT-Portage, 11; 16, WH-Westmont Hilltop, 10; 17, MC-Marion Center, 9; 18, PL-Purchase Line, 8; 18, WB-West Branch, 8; 20, PV-Penns Valley, 8; 20, U-United, 6; 22, BEA-Bald Eagle Area, 5; 22, BM-Bishop McCort, 5; 22, CH-Cambria Heights, 5; 25, SH-Southern Huntingdon, 4; 26, BV-Blacklick Valley, 3; 27, CN-Central, 2; 27, PO-Philipsburg-Osceola, 2.
100 dash: 1, Oliver, T, 11.27; 2, Bodley, J, 11.40; 3, Karlheim, BC, 11.50; 4, Cernansky, WH, 11.53; 5, Shuty, BC, 11.56; 6, Kephart, PT, 11.71; 7, Buey, SJ, 11.72; 8, Blough, FH, 11.76.
1600 run: 1, Sutton, PC, 4:30.40; 2, England, WL, 4:31.74; 3, Hackman, SJ, 4:32.54; 4, Moody, BEA, 4:35.12; 5, Eckroth, R, 4:43.02; 6, Anderson, MC, 4:46.20; 7, Fuller, PV, 4:48.27; 8, Zook, T, 4:53.35.
110 hurdles: 1. Gilbert, J, 15.55; 2, Onder, PT, 15.69; 3, Piner, FH, 16.03; 4, McMillan, BA, 16.15; 5, Delerme, PC, 16.27; 6, McEvoy, BV, 16.72; 7, Maurer, PO, 16.75; 8, Warshel, R, 17.18.
300 hurdles: 1, Gilbert, J, 40.47; 2, Warshel, R, 41.40; 3, McMillan, BA, 41.43; 4, Bauman, HD, 42.22; 5, Patton, SH, 42.31; 6, Piner, FH, 43.47; 7, Quick, WB, 44.00; 8, McNemar, J, 44.08.
3200 relay: 1. Bellwood-Antis (Mogle, Lardieri, D'Angelo, Bartlett), 8:32.12; 2, Central Cambria (Walwro, Descavish, Neumann, Lambie), 8:37.09; 3, Purchase Line (Learn, Farmery, Butz, Antisdel), 8:39.81; 4, St. Joseph's, 8:45.77; 5, Juniata, 8:52.88; 6, Ligonier Valley, 8:55.79; 7, Forest Hills, 8:58.05; 8, Tyrone, 8:58.60.
Long jump: 1, Frederick, HD, 21-6; 2, Somiari, R, 21-5 1/4; 3, John Capitosti, HC, 21-2 1/2; 4, Burgo, BM, 21-1; 5, Lacue, CH, 20-9 1/2; 6, Karlheim, BC, 20-9; 7, Helsel, CN, 20-0; 8, Joe Capitosti, 20-0.
Shot put: 1, Seymour, CC, 49-5 3/4; 2, Joy, R, 48-2 1/2; 3, Newhouse, HC, 45-11 1/2; 4, McCullough, MC, 45-2; 5, Moran, R, 43-8 1/2; 6, Hummel, J, 43-5; 7, Sandoval, SJ, 41-10 3/4; 8, Albright, CH, 41-3.
Javelin: 1, Biddle, WL, 195-7; 2, Torsell, BA, 165-11; 3, Slippey, WB, 163-9; 4, Bloom, LV, 157-6; 5, Paronish, NC, 157-3; 6, Hummel, J, 154-1; 7, Bish, PL, 153-5; 8, McCullough, MC, 152-2.
Pole vault: 1, Yahner, NC, 15-3 (meet record); 2, Mikulsky, R, 13-0; 3, Beacker, U, 12-6; 4, Barron, WH, 12-6; 5, Tucker, PV, 12-6; 6, Maust, LV, 12-0; 7, Steinbauer, BA, 11-6; 8, Green, HD, 11-6.