Panther jumping duo finishes 3-4

SHIPPENSBURG – On a downright miserable day at Seth Grove Stadium, marked by unseasonably cold conditions, blustery winds and intermittent rain, Northern Bedford’s Blake Over and Tayler Pressel performed a double-team on the competition in the Class AA boys triple jump.

“We’re there to cheer each other on,” Over said. “A lot of the kids, there was only one from each school here. We both help each other. We give each other steps. It was just nice to know there was somebody else there to have your back.”

The Black Panther duo doubled their pleasure and doubled their fun by coming away from the first day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships with two medals in the same event on Friday at Shippensburg University.

Northern Cambria pole vaulter Gus Yahner was the only other area performer who joined them on the medal stand in the meet’s damp and windy opening day. Half the field events were contested, with the other half of the field events and all the track finals to be run today.

Over claimed the bronze medal by leaping 44 feet, 6 inches on his final attempt. That pushed Pressel to fourth place – he jumped 44-1 in the flights.

Both were making their first appearance at the state meet.

“It’s a pretty crappy day right now. I wasn’t expecting to place at all because of how crappy it was. I was really happy that I got to place,” Pressel said.

Over needed a personal-record to fend off his teammate at the District 5 meet. This time, he almost needed to duplicate it under much more adverse weather conditions.

“My last jump, I just gave everything I had into it. I really went the extra mile for it,” Over said. “My PR was on one day when the wind was with me, so it was easier. Today it was cold, and you had to keep warming up, and that kind of made your legs feel tired. But, with the adrenaline rush, you can barely tell.

“I just wanted to medal. I surpassed my goals by getting a higher medal than I expected.”

By finishing fourth, Pressel equaled the best medal his twin brother, Zach, has gotten at states. Tayler will cheer Zach on in the high jump today – the Pressels are seniors.

“It feels nice to finally get one after I saw him get two,” Tayler Pressel said.

The unseasonably cold temperatures figured to be a bigger detriment to the jumpers than any other competitors because of the amount of time they had to wait for their attempts to come up.

“You’ve just got to stay warm between every jump,” Over said.

Both Northern Bedford jumpers said having a teammate there with them was an advantage.

“You have someone to watch your steps when you run through, to give you help when you need it,” Pressel said. “It’s like having a coach on the field.”

Over is only a junior, so his performance has definitely upped the ante for his 2014 season.

“My second phase isn’t the best, so I’m going to work on that. I was the top-seeded junior here this year, so maybe next year I’ll be the top seed,” Over said.

The two other area boys in the event just missed out on the medals. Penn Cambria’s James Mardula was 4 inches shy of making the finals and checked in with a distance of 42-6. Huntingdon’s Kobren Frederick took 12th with his best jump of 42-1.

The Class AA javelin also featured a strong area presence. However, none of the three boys in the event was able to medal.

Williamsburg’s Mike Biddle made the finals, but his throw of 165-2 left him in ninth by 9 inches. Bedford’s Cody DeMoss placed 10th at 164-7, and Northern Cambria’s Evan Ludwig took 12th with a distance of 162-8.

Like Tayler Pressel, Yahner has been a known commodity in area track circles for a while now but was getting on the medal stand for the first time. He and Huntingdon’s Alex Hall were two of five Class AA pole vaulters to tie at 13-0, but the Colt junior shared sixth place with Shade Side Academy’s Max Prizant by virtue of number of misses, while Hall finished tied for ninth.

“I figured it would take 13 or 13-6 to medal, and 14-6 or 15 to win,” said Yahner, whose best vault this year was 14-6. “The wind always makes it tough. You just have to try to get your jumps in between the gusts.”

A pole vaulter since seventh grade when he followed friend Nolan Paronish into the event, Yahner went into last year’s District 6 meet offering a potential challenge to the meet record. Instead, he missed out on even qualifying for states. So this meet offered some measure of vindication, even if the conditions made it hard to record an ideal height.

“Last year I had bad luck at districts, so it feels good to get here and get a medal,” Yahner said.

All three area boys in the Class AA 100 meters advanced to the semifinals. Tussey Mountain’s Darrin Sipes recorded the best time of the trio at 11.10 seconds to place fourth in his heat but get one of four wild-card spots in the next round. Bellwood-Antis’ Ian O’Shea was third in his preliminary with an 11.20, and Blue Devils teammate Seth Worthing checked in at 11.21 to move on with a fourth-place finish.

O’Shea and Worthing will be busy today. They also advanced as part of their school’s 400 relay team with Cameron Worthing and Owen Worthing, posting a time of 44.03. Their 1600 relay with Owen Worthing and Andrew Burget, however, was denied, finishing fourth in its heat in a time of 3:36.94.

O’Shea also nabbed the eighth and final qualifying slot in the 300 hurdles, running 41.02. That was six-hundredths of a second ahead of East Juniata’s David Brantley in the third and final heat.

“Despite all the wind and the weather, I’m happy I made the semifinals in the hundred and the finals in the four-by-one and the 300 hurdles. And we ran a good race in the four-by-four, so I’m happy with my day,” O’Shea said. “The highlight of my day is making the finals in the 300 hurdles. I didn’t run my best time today, but a lot of the times were slow because of the wind.

“Whenever it’s over [today], I’m hoping to have some medals around my neck. That will be worth it.”

Meanwhile, Sipes advanced to the 200 semis, as well, running a 23.30 and coming in fourth in his heat. Seth Worthing also ran in the 200, but his 23.44 left him just outside the top 16 times needed to advance in that event.

Huntingdon’s Logan Fultz was one spot behind Worthing in his heat in sixth place. Fultz’s time was 23.68.

Hollidaysburg’s Matt Barton was the only other area boy in a field final on Friday. Barton came in 18th in the Class AAA discus with a toss of 130-3. He will return to action this morning in his signature event, the shot put.

The following area individuals or teams were eliminated in Friday’s track trials:

n All three Blair County entries in the four-by-800 relay. In Class AAA, Altoona (Mitch Endress, Dom Stroh, Brad Foust and Terry Futrell) finished ninth in its heat with a time of 8:15.40. In Class AA, Tyrone (Wyatt Fowler, Adam Flick, Lake Ingle and Hayden Zook) was 11th in its race with a time of 8:44.27, and Bellwood-Antis (Alex Bartlett, Burget, Sam Mills and Kyle Bartlett) was 13th with a time of 9:05.34.

n Altoona lost its 1600 relay team of Endress, Jon Stolz, Christian Toohey and Joe Reffner, as well. It was fifth in its preliminary, posting a time of 3:31.47.

n Kyle Bartlett also narrowly missed advancing in the 1600 run. His time of 4:34.83 was seventh in his heat and 2.39 seconds from making him an at-large qualifier; he’ll still run in the two-mile race today with Williamsburg’s Bryce England, who posted a time of 4:36.60 in the mile and was ninth in his prelim.

n Three area 400-meter sprinters were knocked out of contention. Portage’s Paul Husar put up the best time, running 52.91, but that only was good enough for sixth in his heat. Northern Cambria’s Derek Bearer and Tyrone’s Ben Makdad were sixth and seventh, respectively, in their race: Bearer ran 53.10, Makdad 54.51.

n Bishop Carroll’s Jesse Switzer, Brody Shuty, Dan Lesney and Matt Karlheim was one of the few teams to actually improve its seeded time in the 400 relay, sporting a 45.00 after running 45.08 at districts, but it wasn’t enough to get them into the finals. The Huskies were fourth in their heat.

n Altoona’s Uthman Hill was seventh in his preliminary heat of the Class AAA 110 hurdles with a 15.79 time. Central Cambria’s Scott Holsinger also was seventh in his 110 race in AA, crossing in 16.11.

n Philipsburg-Osceola’s Tim Easton was 12th in his heat of the 800 run. Eason posted a 2:08.37.