SHIPPENSBURG — At times it might have seemed as if the athletes were battling the conditions more than each other at Saturday's District Three track and field championships.
Yet, many Lancaster-Lebanon League boys overcame the early rain and cold that plagued Shippensburg University, as the league scored eight gold medals, including two individual golds by Penn Manor's Taraje Whitfield in Class 3A.
Whitfield, the top seed in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, used inspiration from his competition. He took off fast, and finished faster with his winning and lifetime best time of 14.13 in the 110.
The District 3 3A 110M hurdles champ Taraje Whitfield of Penn Manor pic.twitter.com/kb3QCTA8uK— Steve Navaroli (@SteveNavaroli) May 19, 2018
"I knew the Harrisburg kid's (Richard Gilchrist) time was right behind me. He was going to be tough, so I made sure to warm up as best as a I could," Whitfield said. "I wanted a good time and if I didn't run my best I wouldn't win."
Later, he ran a 37.57 to also win the 300 hurdles. After coming in second in both district hurdles in his sophomore and junior seasons, Whitfield was ready on Saturday.
"It's like the greatest feeling in the world," said Whitfield. "That was my goal — to win both after finishing second twice."
Warwick's Brenden Gates was sixth in the 110 and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Zach Reed of Manheim Central was fifth and Donegal's Keeryn Stevens seventh in the 300.
Throwing in the wind
Penn Manor’s Alexander Scheivert admitted that the weather affected his normal javelin throw, as did the one-hour delay, caused by an traffic accident that kept some teams from arriving on time.
SHIPPENSBURG — The Warwick girls had already clinched the Class 3A girls team title on the second day of the District Three Track and Field Ch…
Still, while he didn't throw his best on Saturday, Scheivert was more than good enough to win 3A javelin gold with a toss of 193-feet, 1 inch.
"The conditions this entire week were hard to deal with. It was warm, then the weather turns, it's cold and rainy. Your muscles aren't prepared for that," he said.
Scheivert added that he and his coach will train hard this coming week to prepare for next weekend's PIAA championships — in hopefully much warmer conditions.
He was one of five L-L throwers to medal in the event. Josh Eidenmiller of Lampeter-Strasburg was third, Cocalico's Brad Heck fourth, Tanner Miller of Cedar Crest seventh and Donegal's Nick Ketner eighth.
As the only senior on the Ephrata 4x800 relay, Alex Morales opened the race, but didn't get the start he wanted. Still, he soared past the competition for the lead after his two laps.
Given the lead, teammates Andrew Foster, Tanyon Loose and Tyler Shue didn't let him down as the Mountaineers’ foursome won the 3A district title with a time of 7:54.43.
"It feels great. We were here last year, so we knew what a medal was like. They are heavy, but this year we wanted gold," said Morales. "We came here today feeling pretty confident. We have that big meet experience and know what it feels like against good teams."
"I saw these three guys run," added Shue, pointing to his teammates. "They did their part, so I figured I had to do my part. Once I saw we were in the (lead), I had confidence in my abilities."
Hempfield placed second, Cedar Crest sixth and Manheim Township eighth in the 4x800.
Shue wasn't done there, as he won gold in the 800-meter run in 1:54.13, with Morales finishing third.
"It gave me a boost of confidence, knowing I was capable of a 1:54," Shue said of the relay. "It's really cool training together and having the success we are now."
Connor Shields of Warwick was fifth, Penn Manor's David Kramer sixth and Manheim Township's Timothy Antonacci was eighth in the 800.
Disappointment, then gold
Although their 4x100 relay didn't go as expected, McCaskey ended the meet on a high note by winning the Class 3A 4x400 relay.
The foursome of Jamel Henry, Dejon Manning, Anthony DeLeon and Leonel Del Rosario ran a 3:21.25 for a come-from-behind victory.
"All I did was turn the jets on and sprint the last 100 meters," said DeLeon. "It's a good feeling, especially since we had a bad start and Leo got disqualified in the 400. We were determined to win this."
"I had to put it on for my teammates and all my teammates fought hard for each other. We grind together," Del Rosario added.
Penn Manor was fourth and Manheim Township fifth.
Warmth, win for Mellinger
Lampeter-Strasburg's Ezra Mellinger knew what he would be up against before the start of the 3A boys long jump.
Fighting the brutal morning conditions, the junior went into the field house to stay warm prior to competing. The strategy paid off as he jumped a 22-9.5 to win gold.
"I just thought that everybody is going to be dealing with it. You've just got to make the best of it," he said. "I got warm and I was like, 'I am out here to do this, so let's go.'"
Of course, familiarity helped Mellinger too, as he was surrounded by other league competitors, including Jose Barbon of Conestoga Valley, who earned a silver.
Darien Ressler of Hempfield was fourth and Manheim Township's Titan Cox fifth.
Fast sprints, too
Stanley Miller of Annville-Cleona blazed his way to the Class 2A 200 dash title with his time of 22.57. Columbia's Ishmel Wright was sixth. Earlier in the day, Miller and Wright went silver and bronze, respectively, in the 100 dash. Lancaster Catholic's Malkam Lawrence was seventh.
— Shields placed third in the 3A 1,600 run, with Conestoga Valley's Nathan Grucelski and Evan Dorenkamp of Manheim Township coming in fifth and sixth, respectively.
— Lancaster Mennonite's Zach Steffen earned bronze and Wright was sixth in the 400 dash. Blazer Logan Horst was sixth in the 2A 1,600 run.
— Chad Mowbray of Penn Manor placed fifth in the 400 dash and the Comets’ 4x100 relay earned an eighth-place medal.
— In the 2A 110 hurdles, Carlos Nazario of Lancaster Catholic was sixth and Dayspring Christian's Bennett Kauffman was seventh.
— Lancaster Catholic teammates Kolbe Card and Austin Sauer finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in the 2A triple jump. Ahmad Kamara of Columbia was eighth. Crusaders senior Peter Hughes was eighth in the 2A boys shot put.
— Ryan Carter of Manheim Central and Ephrata's Elie Basenga tied for sixth in the 3A high jump.
— Cocalico's Josh Hoover was fifth in the 3A discus thrown. Patrick Cloonan of Manheim Township was seventh and McCaskey's Elvis Laguerre eighth.
— Township's Matt Russinko placed fifth in the 3A 200.
Penn Manor and Ephrata were second and third, respectively, in the Class 3A team standings, behind champion Mechanicsburg.