Good Wednesday to you all!
Hope everyone is doing well after a beautiful day on Tuesday. And let me tell you, the athletes in the Lackawanna Track Conference took advantage of almost perfect weather conditions in NEPA for their sport. It gave me goosebumps as I sifted through the results both last night and early this morning.
Now, I am crossing my fingers that athletic directors who took a chance by keeping their meets on the schedule today don’t get burned. It’s a bit chilly this morning, and windy, (of course my recycle can tipped over for the 10th time this year), and rain is in the forecast. Look, you roll the dice in the spring. Great day Tuesday. Hit or miss day on Wednesday. But, based on what I am seeing, it’s not going to matter the weather, the athletes in the LTC are having a remarkable 2017. And this has me pumped up moving forward.
I know, I know, track and field is an individual sport. I hear it all the time. Folks, all you would have to do is attend a dual meet with the drama of yesterday’s Wallenpaupack-Western Wayne girls meet to know, this is a team sport, too. Now, full disclosure, I couldn’t be in attendance myself personally because of a family scheduling conflict. Actually, my daughter plays a sport in the spring and, after 20 years of covering everyone else’s kids in their sports, I am trying to attend as many of her games as I can. However, I have been at meets like the one between Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne.
First and foremost, you can’t get any closer with a team coming out the winner than 76-74. Wallenpaupack came away with an emotional win and appear poised to defend its LTC Division II title now after back-to-back wins over North Pocono and the Lady ‘Cats. Track and field dual meets are very unique. There are 18 events and point are awarded for the top three places in individual events and for the winner in each of three relays. There are no “runs” or “clock chewing drives” or “multiple-run inning,” like other team sports. You have to put your best people in their best events to score their maximum points to reach that magic number of 76. Each event has a life of its own. Both teams in this showdown had remarkable performances trading momentum throughout making it a roller-coaster ride from start to finish.
Western Wayne, the former division power which is also an upstart with blossoming young talent, seized the early advantage. A win in the 3,200-meter relay and another by freshman Trina Barcarola, who is going to be the next big star in the hurdle events, gave the Lady ‘Cats a 10-4 advantage. Then came the back-and forth. Wallenpaupack’s Erika Hansen, one of the top sprinters in District 2, won the 100 and teammate Madison Nakielny grabbed one of the all-important third-place finishes. In a meet this close, every single place mattered. Western Wayne’s Annie Skirpan took the 1,600, but Wallenpaupack bounced back with a win in the 400 relay with an eye-popping time of 51.51 seconds. Wallenpaupack’s Trish Gibbons, who is quickly emerging in the 400, edged Western Wayne’s Caitlin Henneforth and the teams were going toe-to-toe. The Lady Buckhorns led 25-21.
In the 300 hurdles, things reached a fever pitch. Barcarola — listen, I know hurdle talent and she is special — won the event in a time of 46.46 seconds. Mackenzie Turner, a pretty darned good hurdle runner herself, stayed on Barcarola’s heels and clocked in at 46.84 to set a Wallenpaupack record.That’s an awesome race, girls. Tucked in at third, again, a crucial place, Wallenpaupack’s Paige Vennie as the Lady Buckhorns maintained a 29-26 lead.
Wallenpaupack’s Sam Killiany took the 800 and Hansen grabbed the 200, two events where Carissa Mandaris (800) and Gibbons (200) took thirds. Wallenpaupack’s lead grew to 41-32. But, Western Wayne stayed in it as Skirpan won the 3,200 with a time of 12:55.99. That left the score at 45-37 with only the 1,600 relay remaining on the track.
In the field, Wallenpaupack got wins from Shannon Vennie in the discus and Shelia Whitman in the long jump. Western Wayne countered with wins from Zoey Rosensweet in the shot put, Barcarola in the triple jump, Henneforth in the high jump and Sydney Krompasky in the pole vault. Western Wayne swept all nine points in the high jump and took first and second in the triple for an 8-1 edge, giving Western Wayne a 73-63 lead with two events remaining.
Wallenpaupack closed to 73-68 with a powerful effort in the 1,600 relay. The team of Mackenzie Turner, Sam Killiany, Erika Hansen and Trish Gibbons crossed in 4:10.95.
It all came down to the javelin. Junior Tabitha Boyd launched a career-best 92 feet, 8 inches to take the lead. But that secured Wallenpaupack 73 points. The team still needed a second-place for 3 points and the win. Freshman Elizabeth Desmet had a career-best throw of 87-10 to place second and clinch the win.
“So proud of them.” — Wallenpaupack coach Mark McHugh in a text message
That is an awesome dual meet.
RECORD ROLL CALL
In addition to the great dual meet, there were some remarkable individual performances.
Let’s start with Scranton’s Ky’Ron Harbin. Look, I tried to tell anyone who would listen two years ago. I have been around this sport for a very long time and I had never seen anyone with the kind of athleticism that Harbin had as a 15-year-old. He qualified for the state meet and won a state medal in Class 3A in his freshman season. Folks, that does not happen in this state.
Now, he has had his ups and downs. But he is just a special athlete who is only a junior.
HARBIN BY THE NUMBERS
Scranton school record in the triple jump set at the District 2 Class 3A championships in 2015.
Scranton school record set in the long jump against West Scranton on Tuesday.
Scranton school record set in the high jump against West Scranton on Tuesday.
- Ky’Ron Harbin’s distance in the long jump, while not official, would be the No. 1 mark of the season in the state according to pa.milesplit.com. The state rankings only include sanctioned marks performed at invitational meets throughout the spring.
But Harbin wasn’t alone in etching his name in school record books. In addition to the school mark by Mackenzie Turner in the 300 hurdles in the Wallenpaupack-Western Wayne girls meet, and Harbin, six other marks fell in meets across the LTC.
Making a mark
- Western Wayne’s Ryan Atcavage cleared 15-0 in the pole vault against Wallenpaupack.
- Abington Heights’ Calista Marzolino cleared 5-4 in the high jump against Scranton Prep.
- Mid Valley’s Kali Mulea crossed in 53.1 seconds to set a record in the 300 hurdles.
- Scranton’s Greg Miller broke his school record in the shot put for the third straight meet, hitting a mark of 49-9 against West Scranton.
Two other athletes finished second in their events, but still broke school records.
- West Scranton’s Tamon Brown clocked in at 10.94 (11.24 converted) in the 100-meter dash against Scranton. He was second to Scranton’s Ian Lewis (10.93) in what had to be a photo finish.
- Mid Valley’s Lauren Williams broke her own record with a distance of 103-9 in the javelin, where she finished second to Carbondale Area’s Mikenna Walsh, who hit a 107-5.
AROUND THE TRACK
The season is in full swing. Teams yesterday passed the half-way point and getting ready for the home stretch. Wallenpaupack girls certainly put itself in the driver’s seat to repeat as Division II champion. Montrose boys were certainly impressive in the LTC Division IV. And Abington Heights girls just keep winning.
- North Pocono freshman Lila Gaughan is one of the up-and-coming stars of the LTC. She had a great effort at last season’s Phil Tochelli Junior High Championship meet. She had wins in the 100, the long jump and ran a relay in a win over Honesdale.
- Abington Heights Allyson Derry is having an amazing season on a remarkably talented team. She won the 100 (12.74), long jump (16-4.75) and triple jump (34-8.5) — with her jumps being LTC Division I-best efforts.
Scranton’s Keke Harbin — yes, Ky’Ron’s sister — is beginning to grab everyone’s attention. She won the 100 (12.64) and the 200 (26.54) and ran on a winning relay as the Lady Knights beat their rival West Scranton.
- Valley View remained undefeated. Great job by the Cougars, who will be at Abington Heights on Tuesday. Abby Pidgeon had a pair of season-best times in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
- Lackawanna Trail is also undefeated. What a great job by coach Brian Kearney as the Lady Lions, who lost 19 straight dual meets heading into this season are 2-0 after a win over Montrose.
- Abington Heights is undefeated in the LTC boys Division I. Dan Uhranowsky is putting up some outstanding times in the distance races and Antonio Maletta is an athlete in the hurdles who can make an impact this postseason.
- North Pocono’s Matt Slagus hit a mark of 184-0 in the discus. While unofficial, it would be the No. 2 distance in the state according to pa.milesplit.com.
Delaware Valley is also undefeated in the LTC Division II. Despite losing hurdle standout CJ Anderson to an injury, the Warriors have been led by Nick Haydu (shot), John Actisdano (javelin) and John Roccabruna (discus) all season. Delaware Valley will be at North Pocono on Tuesday.
- Montrose boys are very good and balanced. This is a team that can make some noise at the Jordan Relays, Robert Spagna Championships and District 2 Class 2A Championships. Colin Chidester picked up wins in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and triple jump, and the Meteors have one of the strongest distance groups in the area.
- Mid Valley got wins from Austin Mizerak (long, triple) and Tom Malandri (shot, discus) to defeat Carbondale Area, 106-43.
In some events, there is really one superstar and then several athletes competing for second place. The girls 800 may be one of them with Abington Heights’ Katie Dammer probably in a league by herself. But on Tuesday, there were some very good times posted in the two-lap event. Montrose’s Hannah Perkins crossed in 2:23.54, while Carbondale Area’s Jennifer Korty had a winning time of 2:24.04.
OK, teams from Division III and Division IV take the spotlight. There is a great girls meet scheduled between No. 3 Dunmore and No. 4 Lakeland. That, like the Western Wayne-Wallenpaupack meet, has the potential to come down to the final event and some crucial third-place finishes.
Lakeland at Dunmore
Holy Cross at Riverside
Susquehanna at Blue Ridge
Mountain View at Elk Lake
That is all for today.
I will be back tomorrow with more on the high school track scene.