SHIPPENSBURG - Williamsburg's Mike Biddle has really been airing it out with the javelin as the 2014 high school track and field season progressed, but the blustery conditions took the wind out of his and most of his competition's sails on the first day of the PIAA Championships on Friday at Seth Grove Stadium.
Biddle still turned in one of the best performances for an area boy, taking the bronze medal with a toss of 182 feet, 7 inches. Bedford's Cody DeMoss placed fifth in the event, throwing 175-8 on his first attempt in the flights.
Berks Catholic's Matt Reinhart won the event with a throw of 186-7.
In addition to them, Central Cambria junior Will Seymour took home a sixth-place medal in the Class AA shot put to go along with the gold and bronze won by Huntingdon's Kobren Frederick and Northern Bedford's Blake Over, respectively, in the Class AA triple jump (see related story).
Only finals were run in half of the field events on Friday. The rest along with all the track medals will be handed out today.
A junior who just missed out on placing last season, Biddle entered the meet as the No. 1 seed in his event. He had been throwing in the 190s fairly consistently this month, making his bronze medal a bittersweet experience.
"I'm a little disappointed, but it's definitely great to place," Biddle said. "Coming in ninth last year was really hard, not getting a medal. Coming back here and getting a medal is really fun."
Friday morning's competitors dealt with sometimes very gusty winds. Many of the distances in the javelin were beneath performances at last week's district meets, and the weather might have played a part.
"It was pretty windy. That doesn't affect you too much, though," Biddle said.
Biddle was setting new team standards in the javelin at virtually every big meet in May, and he even held the early lead on Friday. The state medal is just the latest step in his progress.
"I'm just thanking God for a really great season," Biddle said. "It's great to be able to do that, to be blessed to jump up like that.
"I'm just going to keep working hard over the summer for next year."
DeMoss and Biddle have pushed each other in the javelin for a couple of years now. DeMoss was second for a time to Biddle on Friday.
"It shows that I accomplished something," DeMoss, a senior, said of his medal. "[My throw] was beyond districts, and I actually placed at the state meet. I feel it's a pretty decent accomplishment. I just feel joyous about it. I'm so happy."
Although DeMoss and Biddle have been comparable to each, DeMoss wasn't seeded in the top eight needed to medal entering states, because his throw at the District 5 meet didn't put him there. He had thrown better than that earlier in the season, though, and knew he had a state-medal throw within him.
He got that throw in the preliminaries.
"I was beyond ecstatic about the throw," DeMoss said. "I had a good block. I had good form. I was ready for it. The only problem was the wind."
Seymour's medal throw was 50-0. It was the first time he had reached the 50-foot mark.
Seymour was the eighth seed.
"I feel I always throw better when there are guys in front of me, because I hate losing," Seymour said. "There were guys in front of me that I definitely felt I could [move up] a couple of places. It was a beautiful day. That also helped. Everything kind of came together for that one throw."
Hickory's Luke Lewis won the event convincingly with a throw of 61-8.
Medals are nothing new to the Seymour family. Seymour's older sisters Carly, Kelsey and Kendall all reached the state podium as distance runners. Carly Seymour was on hand to see her brother join them.
"They've won so many medals, it's unreal. But it's definitely good to achieve something great like this," Will Seymour said.
Bedford sophomore Will Kachman will be going for two medals today. He already was in the finals in the Class AA 3200, and he ran his way to a top-12 showing in the mile on Friday. Kachman finished in 4:29.09, good for fifth in his heat and the best wild-card time to qualify.
Kachman won't be running against any other locals in the 1600 today, though. Williamsburg's Bryce England just missed out on a wild-card qualification with his time of 4:31.66 in the preliminaries, while Penn Cambria's Garrett Sutton was 10th in that heat with a time of 4:40.93.
Sutton also was sidelined in the 800, where he turned in a 2:03.76 to place eighth in his heat.
In the Class AA 200, Darrin Sipes of Tussey Mountain kept his hopes of medaling for the second year in a row alive by finishing fourth in his preliminary heat in a time of 22.98. He'll still have to get through the semifinals before he makes it onto the medal stands.
Central's Justin Helsel and Bishop Carroll's Brody Shuty weren't as fortunate. Helsel ran 23.34 to place sixth in his race, while Shuty recorded a 24.34 time to come in seventh in his.
Shuty, though, still has a great shot to medal. He ran the second left of Bishop Carroll's 400 relay with Alex Repko, Dan Lesney and Matt Karlheim that made it through to today's finals. They ran 44.07 in their Class AA heat to secure the final qualifying position. They were second in their heat.
Carroll was the only one out of the four area squads that advanced in the 400 relay. In Class AA, Tyrone's Scott Goss, Connor Harper, Cameron Bakhsheshe and James Oliver missed out by placing sixth in their heat at 45.14. Chestnut Ridge's Jordan Crist, Bryan Feather, Adam Claar and Trent Lohr were sixth in their heat, as well, checking in at 45.74.
Altoona was disqualified in the Class AAA 400 relay. That team was comprised of Jon Stolz, Sean Steave, Christian Toohey and Eli Mencer.
Altoona, Bellwood-Antis and Central Cambria all were eliminated in the 3200 relay preliminaries. Altoona's team of Brett George, Dominic Stroh, Mitch Endress and Brad Foust were 11th in its Class AAA heat with a time of 8:21.56, as was the Bellwood quartet of Aaron Mogle, Kyler Lardieri, Noah D'Angelo and Alex Bartlett in its Class AA prelim at 8:38.89. Central Cambria's Mike Walwro, Bryce Descavish, Javaunte Neumann and Jonah Lambie finished 14th in their Class AA preliminary heat with a time of 8:57.82.
Altoona's Jon Carper and Portage's Chris Onder both placed sixth in their heats in the 110 hurdles. Carper recorded a time of 15.64 in the Class AA competition. Onder's time was 16.03, just sixth-hundredths of a second from making the semifinals in Class AA.
In the 300 hurdles, Mencer was fourth in the second heat, putting up a 42.05 in Class AAA, while, in Class AA, Bellwood-Antis' Matt McMillan finished in 42.12, sixth in his race.
Both of the area's Class AA 100-meter sprinters also fell by the wayside. Oliver - the District 6 champion - clocked at 11.37, sixth in his heat by just two-hundredths of a second from reaching the semifinals. Karlheim ran 11.46, also placing him sixth in his heat.
Neither Bedford's Zane Baker nor Northern Cambria's Seth Bearer were able to move along in Class AA 400 meters. Baker was sixth in his preliminary with a time of 52.64. Bearer was fifth in his as 53.91.