Western Wayne senior Ryan Atcavage came away with two medals in Class 2A at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University. First, he took silver in the 300-meter hurdles in 39.39 seconds — .28 seconds behind winner Josh Booth of McConnellsburg. Then, he outdueled Schuylkill Valley’s Joe Jardine to strike gold in the pole vault, clearing 15 feet.
Here is more from Atcavage about his performance in AOW Extra:
You got to compete at states last year as a last-minute injury replacement. Explain how that all happened and how the experience last year helped you this year: They called the day before, like 3 o’clock in the afternoon. My coach told me I had to decide right then, so I said yes. I went and it just gave me a whole outlook for what states would look like for next year. It basically got rid of the nerves I would have had for this year. It helped set me up to be able to do what I did. Did you just go there and have the attitude of whatever happens, happens? After districts, I thought I was done practicing pole vaulting. I was just going to pick it up during the summer. Once they called me, I went down there and I jumped 14-3, a new PR. (Note: Atcavage placed ninth last year at states)
Did you imagine going to states this year and coming away with, not one, but two medals? I never thought that would happen. Pole vaulting is my stronger event, but I do like the 300 hurdles. But I saw people were dropping like 39s and I didn’t think I’d be able to do that. I was shooting for it all year round and I came close. One time I ran a 40.02 (seconds) and I thought I couldn’t run that again. But at Shippensburg, I ran it twice (39.63 in preliminaries, 39.39 in the final).
How did you get start doing the pole vault? My dad used to pole vault. He was good in high school (at Wyoming Valley West). Once I hit ninth grade, I tried it out and I liked it. Then coach (Robert) Amos came and we really picked it up. This area has produced a number of standout pole vaulters. Why do you think that is? I think it’s because we had a group of coaches who came in and are just phenomenal and are getting people interested in pole vaulting. In my opinion, it’s one of the more fun events. I like being up in the air and falling from those heights. It’s really fun.