Area athletes bring home five more medals
SHIPPENSBURG — John Capitosti came home from the PIAA Track and Field Championships with a medal, a school record and he ran with his brother one last time. It was a good weekend.
Capitosti and Apollo-Ridge’s Tre Tipton medaled in the boys’ long jump on Saturday, while Saltsburg’s Kia Clayton and Ligonier Valley’s Jasmine Connor medaled on the girls’ side as area athletes came away with five medals on the second day of the state meet after a disappointing first day.
Only a sophomore, Capitosti jumped 21 feet, 7 inches, to take fifth place in the Class AA long jump and break the Homer-Center school record, and Tipton capped his first season of track and field with a seventh-place medal and a jump of 21-4. Northern Bedford’s Blake Over won with a jump of 22-4.
“I knew if I went over what I did at districts and tried going over 21-6, I’d have a shot at placing and that’s what I did today,” Capitosti said, who jumped 21-2ﾽ at the District 6 meet 12 days ago. “One of my goals was to break the school record. I did that by one inch. I felt really good, and it’s just been a great day.”
On his final jump of the preliminaries, Capitosti hit 21-7 to break Dave Medvetz’s 32-year school record and punch his ticket to the finals. It stood as his best jump of the day and gave him his first medal.
“It was an awesome experience,” Capitosti said. “I was here last year in the (1,600-meter relay), so I got to experience it a little bit. Coming in today, being able to jump long jump and high jump, it’s just an awesome experience. The competition is great, and I wanted to come out and do my best and hit a mark to place and make finals, so it feels awesome.”
Already a two-sport star at Apollo-Ridge, Tipton joined the track team this season on a whim and immediately made an impact.
The Vikings went undefeated in the regular season and qualified for the WPIAL team playoffs, and Tipton was a big part of it. He regularly competed in four events, usually the long jump, high jump, 400 relay and either the 100 or 200-meter dash.
While he admits football and basketball are his loves, “track was a lot of fun,” Tipton said.
“I’m just having fun,” he said. “I felt like I could have done better, but for my first year of track I feel accomplished, and I just feel blessed.”
One of just two area athletes to qualify for the state meet in three events, Clayton bounced back from a rough day Friday to capture her first medal with a fifth-place finish in the Class AA triple jump.
After a pair of lackluster jumps to start her day, Clayton jumped 36-8ﾾ on her final attempt of the preliminaries to earn a spot in the finals. She couldn’t top that jump in the finals, but it was good enough to earn her a fifth-place medal. Bloomsburg’s Britni Phillips won with a jump of 37-7.
“I was kind of freaking out, but I tried to just calm myself down, and it worked,” Clayton said. “(Coach Melissa) Milanak was up there talking to me, so that helped.”
On the first day of the meet Friday, Clayton failed to clear the opening height in the high jump, and she didn’t advance to long jump finals.
Knowing her best shot at a state medal was in the triple jump, Clayton redeemed herself Saturday.
“I didn’t really expect to (medal) in long jump,” Clayton admitted. “I knew I had a better chance in triple jump, so yeah, I think I did (redeem myself).”
The other athlete to qualify for the state meet in three events, Connor was happy to earn her first medal, but she left Shippensburg yearning for more.
She ran a 59.00 in the 400-meter dash finals to take seventh place Saturday. General McLane’s Bethany Evankovich won with a time of 56.05.
“Yeah, but of course, I always want more,” the soft-spoken Connor said.
On the opening day of the meet Friday, Capitosti ran competitively with his brother Joe one final time. The Capitosti brothers ran on Homer-Center’s 1,600 relay team, and even though they didn’t advance to Saturday’s finals, younger brother John was just happy to be there for his brother’s final race.
“It was really special and it was honorable,” John Capitosti said. “I wanted him to get here and I wanted to be here with him to run his last race with him. It was just a great, great feeling. To have him here with me, and to be able to compete with him as a team, it was just a great feeling. … I feel so accomplished and proud, proud of him, proud of my teammates.”
Capitosti also competed in the Class AA high jump. He jumped 5-2 to finish in a three-way tie for ninth.
Other area boys who competed Saturday were: Homer-Center’s Cody Miller in the Class AA discus (20th, 124-5); and Indiana’s Corey Denlinger in the Class AAA javelin (10th, 184-1), his second straight top 10 finish at states.
On the girls’ side, Penns Manor’s Sarah DaBella competed in the Class AA javelin (24th, 103-6).