SHIPPENSBURG — For once, Maizee Fry felt the pressure.
Not one to get rattled or intimidated on the big stage very often, the United sophomore felt the finality of the last meet of the season at the PIAA Track and Field Championships on Friday. But as she usually does, she delivered.
Seeded 10th in the Class 2A girls’ discus, Fry outdid her seeding and placed sixth with a throw of 125 feet, 3 inches, to earn a spot on the medal stand on the first day of the two-day meet at Shippensburg University.
“I came in with the mindset thinking that I only had three throws today,” Fry said, “and if I didn’t do my best I was done because there’s not another track meet after this. You didn’t have to qualify for anything, so I knew coming in you only have three throws, and that gave me the mindset to try my hardest on all three.”
Fry was the only local athlete to earn a medal Friday, but she wasn’t the only one who enjoyed a good day.
Ligonier Valley sprinter Elliot Rost ran in three races and advanced to the second day in all three. In his individual events, Rost ran times of 11.15 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 22.65 in the 200 to move on from the preliminary round to today’s semifinals.
The Rams’ junior overcame a bad start out of the blocks in the 200 and rallied over the second half of the race to punch his ticket in the semifinals.
“The start was really bad, really bad today,” Rost said. “I knew right from the turn I had to push it to make up for that, and I think that’s part of the reason why I’m better at the 200 as well, is that I can really come up from behind. ... In the 100, it’s is a lot harder to be able to make up. You’ve got to start strong.”
Rost also ran on the Rams’ 400 relay team, which advanced to the finals with a second-place finish (43.73) in its heat behind only Aliquippa, a perennial power in that event.
In fact, all three local relay teams who competed Friday advanced to today’s finals.
In the 3,200 relay, the Marion Center girls advanced to the Class 2A finals, as did the Indiana boys in the Class 3A race.
Although the Indiana boys’ 3,200 relay team has qualified for the PIAA Championships four times in six seasons, the Indians hadn’t advanced from the preliminaries during that span. Until Friday, that is.
The foursome of Joey Bujdos, Iago Jopia, Matt Berzonsky and Kendall Branan posted a time of 7:59.27. While it’s not their fastest time of the year, it was a good enough to finish in the top four in their heat and advance, and that’s all that mattered.
“Goal No. 1 and, really, the only thing that matters is that you get out of that first day and make it to the finals on Saturday,” Indiana coach Steve Cochran said. “That has been that hurdle for us the last several times we’ve had relays down here, and so to get past that, we are ecstatic.”
“It’s been three years in the making now,” Branan said. “Basically, Joey, Matt and Iago went out to get me close enough to fourth so I could just kind of hold position. ... That’s basically what we did, and Matt, Joey and Iago ran really good times, and I just basically finished, stayed in the third position so we could move on to the next day.”
Like the Indiana boys, the Marion Center girls’ 3,200 relay didn’t focus on their time in the preliminaries. The one and only goal for the team of Mackenzie Walker, Cherise Schultz, Alyx Cornetto and Nevada Armstrong was to finish in the top four in their heat and reach today’s finals.
Not that they much cared, but the Stingers’ time of 10:03.02 was nearly 10 seconds slower than their seeded time of 9:53.89.
“Yeah, that was the primary goal,” Schultz said. “It was like, don’t kill yourself to get those top places. As long as we’re moving on to the next day, we’re pretty much set there, and we’ll focus on whatever (today) brings.”
Despite his individual success in the 100 and 200, Rost said moving on to today’s finals in the 400 relay was the highlight of his day. The team of Zach Beitel, Rost, Lucas Rashilla and Aaron Tutino is all but assured of a medal today.
“In individual events, I’m only going into the semis,” Rost said, “whereas with the 4x1, we’re in the finals. So just knowing that you’re guaranteed a spot — as long as you don’t DQ — a spot on the podium is really exciting. I know we’re all looking forward to it.”
Aliquippa won the heat with a time of 43.37, but the fact that the Rams kept up with the Quips was a big confidence booster, Rost said.
“That gives us some hope,” he said. “I mean, if we could give them a run for their money, maybe we can do the same with some other teams (today).”
Other local athletes who competed in Friday’s preliminary Class 2A track events included: Saltsburg’s Mackenzie Simpson in the 200 (27.17) and 400 (1:04.05); United’s Laura Susick in the 100 hurdles (16.07) and 300 hurdles (49.37); Apollo-Ridge’s Michael Booker in the 100 (11.41); and Homer-Center’s Logan Williams in the 400 (52.69).
Local athletes who competed in Class 2A field events were: Purchase Line’s David Fyock in the javelin (9th, 170-8); Saltsburg’s Jenna Beitel in the long jump (10th, 16-11); Homer-Center’s Caleb Learn in the long jump (20-6, T-13th) and high jump (6-0, T-18th), and Teagan Sharp in the discus (126-4, 22nd); United’s Delaney Mack in the discus (100-6, 21st); and Marion Center’s Jocilyn Thompson also in the discus (98-1, 24th).
In Class 3A competition, Indiana’s Faith Hartle finished in a tie for 18th in the pole vault (10-0).
Indiana’s Isaac Roadman finished in a tie for 14th place in the Class 3A boys’ pole vault (13-6).