SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – District 9 and District 10 took home five gold medals Friday at the PIAA state track and field championships at Shippensburg University, including three from the Union/A-C Valley co-op program.
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The tri from Union/A-C Valley winning state championships in Class 2A included a state-record-setting throw in the girls’ javelin by Evie Bliss (170’2″), a two-time state champion in the boys’ high jump in Hayden Smith (6’8″), and a first-time champion in the discus in Landon Chalmers (171’5″, while District 10 had a pair of champions in the likes of Slippery Rock’s Levi Prementine in Class 2A in the long jump (23’1 ¼”) and Erie’s Bradon Schneider in the Class 3A pole vault (15’6″).
Also see: Rare and Special: Bliss, Chalmers, Smith Put Union/A-C Valley Track and Field Squarely in the Spotlight
The story of the day belonged to Bliss, the senior from Union High School. She threw the javelin farther than any 2A athlete in the history of the PIAA meet by three feet breaking a 15-year-old record of 167’2″ set by Lakeview’s Fawn Miller in 2008. Bliss’s throw was just over 26 feet ahead of the second-place finisher.
For Bliss, her PIAA record throw came on her first attempt of the competition, drawing gasps from the crowd as it was nearly 15 feet farther than her D9 meet record throw of 155’9” from last week.
Watch the record-breaking throw:
It was also a far cry from her first throw at states last season, which went 67 feet.
“It feels completely different,” Bliss said. “As soon as it left my hand I was like ‘Oh, wow,’ and then I looked up and it still hadn’t landed yet. Everything hit and clicked right. I didn’t know I broke the record until after prelims. It’s incredible, it’s great and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
See Bliss’ full interview:
Clarion County and District 9 finished with two medals in the javelin, as Redbank Valley’s Alivia Huffman earned eighth place with a throw of 127’1”.
For Smith, it was twice as nice in the high jump as he cleared 6’8″ to beat Noah Gunderson of Annville-Cleona, who cleared 6’6”.
With the title already in hand, Smith tried for 6’11”, and although he didn’t clear that, he was smiling ear to ear after winning another gold medal.
“We came out and did our thing,” Smith said. “Coming into the meet I knew there was going to be a lot of competition. I knew that there were going to be some higher heights today. I’m just so happy right now.”
See Smith’s full interview:
Kane’s Sam Lundeen also took home a medal in the high jump getting a bronze with a leap of 6’4″
It promised to be a strong day in the discus for D9/10 athletes based on seeding, and Chalmers delivered, along with Redbank Valley’s Cam Wagner and Oil City’s Cam Crocker.
Chalmers’ winning throw of 171’5” was 15 feet better than his throw in the D9 championships last week and bested Brady Cooper of Laurel, who finished second at 167’8”.
“My goal today was to break the school discus record,” Chalmers said. “I was three feet off at districts and I did that, but I really didn’t expect to throw as far as I did. I knew I had a 170 in me, I just needed to make sure I hit my spot and I definitely hit my spot today and just let it fly.”
See Chalmers’ full interview:
Wagner was sixth with a throw of 164’8″, while Crocker uncorked an Oil City record throw of 162’11” to take seventh.
PRementine’s long jump of 23’1 ¼” was clear by nearly a foot over second-place finisher Anthony Conrey of Conwell-Egan.
“I was actually quite nervous, this was a much bigger crowd than districts,” Prementine said. “Once I jumped 22’5” (in the final jump of prelims, I felt a lot more confident. “I knew I was capable of winning. I was hoping I could come in and do that and I achieved my goal.”
See Prementine’s full interview:
The long jump was a strong event for District 9/10 athletes, as Redbank Valley’s Aiden Ortz finished seventh and Harbor Creek’s Brandon Konieczki was eighth.
Schneider, meanwhile, was one of two athletes to clear 15’6″ in the pole vault, joining Palmyra’s Mason Bucks (who was seeded at 14’3″).
Schneider captured the gold based on fewest number of misses, as both missed all three of their attempts at 16’0″, which would have qualified as NFHS honor roll.
It was a strong morning session for District 9 and 10 athletes, as Mercer’s Willow Myers and Greenville’s Karis McElhaney medaled in the girls’ Class 2A 1600, finishing fifth and sixth, while Franklin’s Caleb Prettyman finished sixth in the boys’ Class 2A 1600.
Clarion-Limestone’s Ryan Hummell was fifth in the boys’ Class 2A javelin and DuBois Central Catholic’s Aiden Grieneisen was sixth, while DCC’s Hope Jacob finished in a crowded tie for fifth in the girls’ 2A high jump.
On the track, Prementine went right from the long jump and won his heat of the 110 hurdles in 14.61, the top time of any runner in the prelims, and also qualified for the finals in the 300 hurdles, assuring himself of three state medals.
Also in Class 2A, Brookville’s Brayden Kunselman qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 100 meters, as did Sharon’s Ondrea Young in the 100 hurdles.
Qualifying for Saturday’s finals in their respective events in the Friday afternoon session were Redbank Valley’s Mylee Harmon and Lakeview’s Lydia Reed in the girls’ Class 2A 400 (Harmon is the defending state champion in the event), the Brookville 4×100 relay team of Brayden Kunselman Hayden Freeman Nick Shaffer Jack Pete, who came into the championships as the top seed, Grove City’s Abbey Nichols and Sharon’s Young in the 300 hurdles and Prementine’s teammate, Eli Anderson in the 300 hurdles.