ALTOONA — Through the first month of the track and field season, Purchase Line senior Joe Price has shown why he’s considered the top shot put thrower in District 6.
He’s one of three throwers in the district to exceed the 50-foot mark this season, and it’s fair to say he enters every meet with a target on his back.
And when he enters a highly competitive meet like Friday’s West Central Coaches Meet at Mansion Park as the top dog, it might lead some competitors to fold under the pressure.
But not Price. Not with the pressure he feels in his household.
“You have to understand, he has two older brothers,” Purchase Line coach Sean Mack said, “and one of them, his older brother Jimmy, was a three-time district champion in the discus so he went to states three years and he ended up placing in the shot. And his other brother, Josh, went to states two years in the discus.
“So he’s got a lot of pressure not even from the kids, he’s got it in his own family. He’s had to deal with that pressure just from within, not from them putting it on him, but living up to the expectations.”
He lived up to them Friday as he unleashed a season-best throw of 51 feet, 7ﾾ inches to take first in the Class AA shot put. He also added a third-place finish in the discus (135-6).
Price was one of three area boys to win an individual event, joining Indiana’s Darrious Carter and Corey Denlinger, who won in Class AAA competition.
Carter won the triple jump with a leap of 44-2, finishing as the only jumper to reach the 44-foot-range.
Denlinger easily won the javelin with a toss of 181-7, outdistancing his closest competitor by more than 10 feet. Denlinger also had a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash.
“It’s always good to win big meets like this,” Denlinger said. “But I still felt like I could have done better. I have so much more left from today,” he said.
Similarly, Price wasn’t overly thrilled despite his big day.
“I’m happy but I would have like to have broken the school record in the shot,” Price said of a record his brother Jimmy holds at 52-8ﾾ. “And I’d like to get more out of discus.”
Mack took away a different impression.
The performance Price delivered at the caliber of meet at which he did it shows Mack that Price is starting to peak at the right time.
“This is the big one. This is the one I talk to the kids about,” Mack said. “I love this meet, to be honest, more than the District 6 meet because this one tells you what you have to do to get ready for districts. … I talked to Joe, and I said, ‘This is the one you’ve got to look at. You have to perform well down here. If you perform well down here, you place high, that really increases your odds of placing in the top three at districts.’ His throw today was just tremendous. I was sitting up here (in the stands) and when he launched it, I stood up and started clapping. I knew. You could tell, that thing was taking off. Just a big one.”
Coming off his title in the triple jump at last week’s Indiana County meet, Carter brought home another title, and it came at the perfect time with the WPIAL individual qualifiers around the corner.
“It definitely boosts my confidence with the qualifiers on Tuesday,” Carter said. “Definitely going to go in with some confidence, and hopefully fly and jump far out there.”
The Indiana boys put forth a big performance, claiming a handful of top-three finishes and even finishing in fifth place in the Class AAA team standings.
Another jumper, Darnae Clemons, added a second-place finish in the high jump (6-4) and a third place in the long jump (21-2). Also scoring points for Indiana were Ryan Louther (1,600, fifth, 4:34.26) and Adam Lenze (eighth, 800, 2:01.48).
Indiana’s 3,200 relay team of Louther, Lenze, Carter and Cole Rosenberger took third to start the day.
The beneficiary of a new javelin donated by an alumnus to the program prior to the season, Denlinger continues to get more comfortable with it, and it’s showing.
“I keep saying over and over again, I love it,” Denlinger said. “I feel like every time I throw it, it becomes more a part of me. It’s just natural.”
On the Class AA side, Homer-Center’s Jared Nealey and Penns Manor’s Cody Bytner posted second-place finishes. Nealey cleared 14 feet in the pole vault for the second straight week, and Bytner jumped 42-7 in the triple jump.
Other local athletes who earned top-three finishes in Class AA competition were: Northern Cambria’s Derek Bearer, who earned two medals. He took second in the 400-meter dash (51.80) and also added an eighth-place finish in the 200; Homer-Center’s Mike Newhouse also earned two medals. He took third in the shot put (47-6ﾼ) and eighth in the discus (121-10); Homer-Center’s Levi McCracken (third, 300 hurdles, 41.91); United’s Shawn Lichvar (third, 800, 2:01.26).
Other local finishers who earned medals in Class AA competition were: Northern Cambria’s Seth Bearer (fifth, 400, 52.84), Evan Ludwig (fourth, javelin, 167-0) and Gus Yahner (eighth, pole vault, 12-6); Penns Manor’s Corey Brown (fourth, discus, 133-0) and Danny Ferens (seventh, shot put, 42-11ﾽ); Homer-Center’s Cody Miller (seventh, discus, 123-8); United’s Charles Hropovich (fifth, javelin, 165-5) and Jon Long (seventh, javelin, 154-7); Purchase Line’s Josh Pierce (sixth, shot put, 43-11).