Stoy guts out winning effort

SHIPPENSBURG — Kam Stoy already had felt the exhilaration of winning a medal of his own, and now he was going to share the experience of climbing the state podium with his Penn Cambria High School teammates.

And he wasn’t going to let a nasty fall or an injured hip deny him.

Running in an unfamiliar lane on a slick track, Stoy, who earlier had placed seventh in the Class 2A 110-meter hurdles, took a spill after receiving the baton from Nick Hite for the third leg of the four-by-100 relay finals. In obvious pain, the Panther senior managed to stay in his lane to keep from disqualification and pass off to relay anchor Jake Wyland, who finished to get Penn Cambria an eight-place medal and Stoy his second of the day on Saturday’s action at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.

“I handed him the baton and then ‘boom!’ He went down right on his back,” Hite said. “Then he got up and continued running. Just a great, great effort on his part to keep it going.”

Although Stoy had to be helped from the track, a number of area boys were jumping for joy — and spots on the medal stand, literally — on the second day of competition in the on-and-off rain at Seth Grove Stadium. Both Clay Engle of Bellwood-Antis and Kyle Lindsey of Hollidaysburg set personal records in placing in the top eight: Engle was fourth in the Class 2A triple jump and Lindsey sixth in the Class 3A long jump.

“It feels amazing, honestly,” Engle, a junior, said. “I thank God. I thank my coaches. My parents and everything. I’m very grateful.”

Back on the track, Penn Cambria’s rivals, Central Cambria, were double-dipping into 2A medals, too, with Mike Walwro winning individually in the half-mile run and the Red Devils also earning hardware in the four-by-400 (see related story on B1).

As Stoy lay flat on his chest for several minutes and his teammates and others rushed to attend to him in the final turn of the track, his meet had taken the last of what amounted to the full gamut of turns.

Frustrated at not even qualifying for states when he was seeded high at districts last year as a junior, Stoy put those demons to rest with a big performance at the District 6 meet two weeks ago, and he was in position to atone with multiple PIAA medals.

Then he finished fourth in his heat on Friday and nearly missed advancing to the second day of the meet in the 110s.

“That race, I knew I was in trouble. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw the time. I was a little bit disappointed,” Stoy said. “I didn’t feel my best (on Friday). I was a little nauseous and sick in the morning. I was like, ‘If I get the chance, I’ve got to make this right.'”

Stoy came through in impressive fashion. He turned around and posted the eighth-best time of 15.30 seconds in the semifinals, assuring him a medal if he didn’t get disqualified in the finals.

He then outperformed his semifinal showing by finishing seventh, although his time was a little slower, 15.39.

The time didn’t matter as much as the medal.

“It’s everything. It’s just a little bit of solidness. I don’t know quite how to describe it. It’s just kind of completing everything that I worked so hard for that last two years of my life,” Stoy said. “It just shows it wasn’t wasted. It’s like ‘I did it! I completed my goals.'”

Stoy said he felt a lot of pressure at the meet.

“It’s a little crazy. It’d definitely nervewracking. Even standing up on the podium, I was nervous, because there’s so many people looking at you,” Stoy said. “The second day’s definitely a lot easier, because you’re a lot more comfortable. Things were going my way, so I felt a little bit better.”

Friday’s adversity played a part in that.

“I was a little more focused. I was definitely a lot more prepared. I think the environment shook me a little bit (on Friday). I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was a lot more focused (on Saturday). I just had to come and do what I do best and run a clean race,” Stoy said.

Stoy is used to running in one of the middle lanes as a top seed, but his times in the preliminaries and semifinals had him running in lane 8 most of the meet.

“I just focused more. Normally, I have people running around me. It was just like, ‘I’ve just got to look forward. I can’t worry about other people now. I’ve got to focus on what’s in front of me, not beside me,'” Stoy said.

That might have caught up to him in the four-by-100.

“I felt like I had the best 100-meter run of my life right there,” Hite said. “We didn’t do anything different. It doesn’t help that the track is a little bit wet. I came down there, gave him a perfect handoff. I think he just leaned back and went to take off and slipped. His cleats just didn’t grab on the track.”

The Panther team of Stoy, Hite, Wyland and Austin Zupon officially timed at 1 minute, 3.70 seconds, 20 seconds behind winner Hickory.

“It feels good to have the medal. All year, we’ve been looking forward to this. We came here last year, and we didn’t make second day. Our main goal was to make second day and to get a medal,” Zupon said. “We didn’t do what our ability. We couldn’t, because (Stoy) got hurt. It’s unfortunate. We still made it here and we still got a medal. That’s all that matters.”

The Panthers actually were running close to the lead when the mishap happened.

There were no mixed emotions for Engle, who PR’d on his last jump of the flights by 2 inches with a leap of 44 feet, 2.75 inches.

“I got the (crowd) clap going, so I was really feeling it. I felt the adrenaline,” Engle said. “I just left it all out there and jumped as far as I could.”

Engle knew he could medal, coming in seeded eighth, but fourth even surprised him a little bit. Engle is a natural athlete who said the mental game sometimes haunts him.

“I jump really high, so I can jump really far, and the form comes easy with it,” Engle said. “But the thinking, it gets in my head really easy. I tend to overthink and I do worse.”

Engle battled psyching himself out by keeping himself distracted.

“I wasn’t really good until I was in 10th grade. I just stuck with it, and it paid off,” Engle said.

Lindsey jumped 22-1 in his third attempt of the flights. Upper St. Clair’s Harvey Kane was the gold medalist with a distance of 23-0.25.

“I was very happy with it. It was tying our school record. I was going after that. I was just able to do it,” Lindsey said.

For Lindsey, the 22-foot mark was a benchmark he’d been working to achieve since freshman year. He first got it at the District 6 Class 3A meet to claim his ticket to Shippensburg, then beat it by and inch on Saturday.

He said it all was a matter or adrenaline.

“I was happy,” Lindsey said. “Last meet ever, graduating this year. I left it all out there.”

Altoona had two athletes in action in Saturday’s afternoon’s Class 3A field events, but neither reached the podium. Daiquain Watson was part of a four-way tie at 17, making a top height of 6-0. Brad Weatherwalk finished 29th in the discus, throwing it 126-2.

A pair of area competitors also finished outside the medals in the Class 2A shot put, where Penn Cambria’s Zach Krug threw 43-4.5 for 16th place, and Bedford’s Vinny Fernandez managed a distance of 40-1 to finish 21st.

Tyrone’s Zach Kohler ran the first half-mile of the Class 2A 3200 meters in the top six before the pace eventually got to him and he fell back.