SHIPPENSBURG — Not only was Kennedy Fletcher the only local girl to come home from the PIAA Track and Field Championships with hardware, she did one better. The United junior earned two medals, though she was hardly satisfied.
Fletcher claimed her second medal of the state championships Saturday with an eighth-place finish in the Class AA javelin, following her seventh-place finish in the discus a day earlier.
And although she was one of only five Class AA girls in throwing events to leave with a pair of medals, Fletcher wasn’t jumping for joy. She took eighth with a throw of 118 feet, 9 inches to wrap up a 2-for-2 performance in her first state meet.
“I wish I wouldn’t have gotten seventh and eighth, but higher up, you know?” she said. “And I wish I could have gotten in the 120s, but I’m happy with it, I guess.”
On the boys’ side, Northern Cambria senior Tyler Olish represented the lone area medalist Saturday, raising the boys’ medal haul to three over the championship weekend. Olish took seventh place in the Class AA high jump in a bit of a surprise.
Seeded 24th out of 26 jumpers, Olish cleared 6-4 to cap his career with a medal. It was among his best jumps ever.
“My best was 6-foot-6 in practice on Wednesday, and I figured about 6-6 or 6-4 would get me in the top eight somewhere,” Olish said. “So I was kind of surprised.”
“I was seeded third to last in there, and I took seventh place, so I was really happy about that.”
Although seeded at 6-0 entering the meet, Olish had cleared 6-4 in competition before, at the West Central Coaches Meet in Altoona on May 3.
From that point, his season turned around and he started to believe in his chances of earning a medal at the PIAA meet.
“That helped out a lot,” he said.
Olish was one of four Northern Cambria boys to qualify for the PIAA meet, believed to be the most competitors the Colts have sent to Shippensburg since 1994.
Only Homer-Center (six) and Ligonier Valley (five) had more athletes qualify for the state meet among area boys’ teams this season.
And even though Olish was the only Colt to come away with a medal, it didn’t take anything away from the strong season Northern Cambria had.
“It makes Northern Cambria a little more proud, bringing four guys down here,” Olish said. “We haven’t had four in a while.”
Although it was her first state meet, Fletcher said she didn’t feel any added pressure. If anything got in her way, it was a cold she picked up with the 30-degree temperature swing from the day the United Lions arrived on Thursday to the first day of competition Friday.
“It felt like any other meet,” she said. “There is a lot of pressure, but I wasn’t nervous.”
As was the case all weekend, the athletes threw into a strong headwind, and Fletcher knows it cost her on at least one throw. It could have been the difference between her eighth-place finish and a higher one.
“My last throw felt really good, but the wind came and pushed it right down,” she said. “My coaches said it would have probably gone a lot farther if it wasn’t for the wind.”
Still, Fletcher enjoyed a banner season.
She swept the throwing events at the Heritage Conference Championships, winning the discus, javelin and shot put, and earlier in the year, she also won the discus and shot put titles at the Indiana County Meet early in the season. In between, she amassed a pile of medals from other invitationals and the District 6 Championships.
And she’s eager to get back at it next year and pick up where she left off.
“I got a lot better this year,” she said. “I improved a lot. I got my bests in all my events by a lot of feet. But I’m hoping next year it’ll go even better.”
Other area girls who competed in Class AA field events Saturday were Penns Manor’s Jennifer Knezovich (triple jump, 17th, 34-6 1/2) and Saltsburg’s Corrine Moore (shot put, 25th, 29-3 1/2). The lone area girl to compete in a track event was Homer-Center’s Heather Paynter (3,200-meter run, 18th, 11:55.23).
On the boys’ side, Purchase Line’s Joe Price and Homer-Center’s Cody Miller competed in the Class AA discus but neither reached the finals. Price finished 11th with a throw of 139-5, setting a personal best on the final throw of his high school career. Miller took 14th (132-9).