SHIPPENSBURG — Saturday was “payday” at the PIAA track and field championships for Ezra Mellinger, and the Lampeter-Strasburg standout was there to collect his due.
He did so by claiming two gold medals — one in the 3A long jump and another in the 3A 200-meter dash. He left Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium with more than his share of weight hanging from his neck.
SHIPPENSBURG — Through every tightly contested race and every muscle-draining workout, every injury setback and every personal record over the…
“I had an image in my mind,” he said. “I wanted to come out here and get it for my coach and for me, and for everybody else who’s given me a lot of support.”
The Duke University commit claimed his wins in totally different fashion.
The top seed by more than a 7-inch margin in the long jump, Mellinger said he was familiar enough with his competitors to know what he needed to do to earn gold, having jumped against them all previously.
When he hit his 23-foot, 9.25-inch mark on his second attempt of the day, Mellinger left the sand pit with a smile on his face. Even with four jumps to go for the finalists, he had a pretty good idea of what he had just accomplished.
Lampeter-Strasburg’s Ezra Mellinger jumps a 23-9.25 in his second attempt in the AAA boys long jump. pic.twitter.com/HMpEvZ4Mqe— David Eckert (@davideckert98) May 25, 2019
“I didn’t relax completely until everybody was completely done,” Mellinger said. “But it reassured me [that jump] probably will win it.”
In the end, nobody came close. Mellinger’s mark was more than a foot better than any other jumper.
It left him room to step back and look ahead. Even at the highest level Pennsylvania track and field has to offer, Mellinger took it easy during his last three jumps and skipped his final attempt as his focus turned toward the 200-meter dash in the afternoon.
There, he came around the curve and hit another gear to win with a time of 21.45 seconds.
Even in an event he just began running in earnest this year, Mellinger won with relative ease.
“The competition was a little bit harder,” he said. “I wasn’t the top seed. But that makes it all the more fun, to come out from the bottom.”
This is not a duplicate photo. Mellinger found the top of the podium again, this time for the boys AAA 200 meter. pic.twitter.com/5o9RLItQQu— David Eckert (@davideckert98) May 25, 2019
Mellinger was one of three Lancaster-Lebanon League boys to win gold on the day, joining Manheim Township’s Evan Dorenkamp and Ephrata’s Tyler Shue.
Dorenkamp gallops for gold
Dorenkamp said he forgot how to run when patellar tendonitis forced him off the track for 12 weeks last winter.
The long, efficient strides of Manheim Township's Evan Dorenkamp — forged by years of traini…
Rounding the final turn with 100 meters between him and a state title on Saturday, though, Dorenkamp’s memory certainly did not falter.
Dorenkamp made a dramatic pass on the home stretch to win gold in the 3A 1600-meter run.
“I’m just in disbelief,” Dorenkamp said afterward. “Going into this race I had confidence because I had the best [personal record], but I was feeling pretty heavy from yesterday.
“I really didn’t think I’d get here.”
Dorenkamp said he spent the race just trying to stay close to the leaders, knowing his closing ability would give him a shot if he could stay within striking distance.
At the very last moment, Dorenkamp launched himself around the leader and crossed the finish line with room to spare, falling to his knees on the rubber track with joy.
“I’ve got my whole family here, they’re so happy for me and I just didn’t want to let them down,” Dorenkamp said. “So I was so happy when I crossed, knowing that I won, with all that weight off my shoulders.”
A Shue-in for victory
Shue didn’t just win the 800-meter races in the boys 3A category. He dominated it.
With a time of 1:51.55, Shue easily claimed gold in a race he led from beginning to end.
“I knew there was a lot of speed in the field,” he said. “...I knew I would have to get out pretty hard in that first lap to try t create space so even if I started to slow down they wouldn’t be able to catch me in the end.”
Needless to say, they didn’t. In what Shue called his best race, the Ephrata junior was always in total control.
Other L-L League Medalists
Dejon Manning, McCaskey, 3rd, 3A 300-meter hurdles, 38.03
Neil Waldhausen, Annville-Cleona, 6th, 2A pole-vault, 14-0
Nate Good, Warwick, 4th, 3A high-jump, 6-07
Joe Cardina, Conestoga Valley, 6th, 3A high-jump, 6-06
Logan Horst, Lancaster Mennonite, 3rd, 2A 3200, 9:30.55
Dylan Lambrecht, Northern Lebanon, 6th, 3A discus, 153-10
McCaskey, 5th, 3A 4x100-meter relay, 42.39
Cedar Crest, 5th, 3A 4x800-meter relay, 7:48.67