Joe Rudy enjoys running on Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium's new synthetic track surface.
"It's amazing," said the Blue Raiders' junior distance runner. "It feels great. I ran on it during cross country and my times improved so much. Before, the gravel would give way when you started to sprint. This is much better for traction."
Rudy helped the Raiders christen their new track in style, as he had a hand in three firsts as Tamaqua edged visiting Pine Grove for a 77-73 non-league victory on a summer-like Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Raiders rolled to a 113-36 victory on the girls' side to complete the sweep of the opening dual meet.
The consensus among the participants is that Tamaqua's new blue polyurethane oval is miles ahead of the old cinder surface. The track has also been expanded from six lanes to eight.
"It's incredible. It's a gift," said junior sprinter Zach Lakitsky, who won the 100 meter dash in 11.5 seconds. "It's so much better on your legs."
Like Lakitsky, whose father Joe was a former Tamaqua sprinter, sophomore Kayla Hope is a second generation Raider runner, following her mother, Denise Stahler, who still holds Tamaqua records in the long and triple jumps and 4x100.
"I never thought I'd see this day," said Hope, who won the 200 meters in 26.8 and was a member of the winning 400 relay. "I'm happy. This is so much better than the dirt we used to run on."
"It's bouncy, and it's quick," said Tamaqua coach Tom Kanger of the rubberized surface. "We have had a lot of practices on it and you can see a big improvement in times, even this early."
Rudy took advantage of the fast track in outkicking the Cardinals' Pat Lally in the 1,600, edging Lally by one-tenth of a second with a winning time of 5:31.9. Rudy also won the 3,200 in 13:10.7 and anchored the winning 4x800 team of Travis Hill, Lance Williams and Brandon Clemson.
"Joe Rudy did the ultimate for a distance runner today," said Kanger. "You can't do much more than he did for us."
Rudy led a 17-1 edge in the distance events which, coupled with a sweep of the pole vault led by Philip Christman's first place, gave the Raiders the upper hand. Christman added a first in the 300 meter hurdles.
Williams (800), Jon Ansbach (shot put) and Josh Turner (javelin) chipped in with first places for Tamaqua.
The Raiders girls won 14 of 18 events to cruise to the win, led by three double event winners: Maria Streisel (100, long jump), Dana Ansbach (800, 1,600) and Carly O'Malley (400, discus). Ansbach also ran on the winning 4x800 team and Streisel on the 4x100.
Junior Allie Updike, a two-time State javelin medalist, won that event with a monster heave of 143-7, just nine inches short of Casey Wagner's school record of 144-4.
Other Raider firsts went to Emily Bumbulsky (3,200), Taylor Gerber (100 hurdles), Jackie Stewart (high jump) and Melody Kelly (pole vault). Of the winners, only Stewart and 4x100 relay runners Samantha Digilio and Brittany Hill are seniors.
"We have a strong freshman group and a lot of underclassmen doing well for us so far, but we also need to improve in key areas," noted Kanger.
Tamaqua 77, Pine Grove 73
100 - 1. Zach Lakitsky (T) 11.5, 2. Cameron Conrad (PG), 3. Geoff Sincavage (T).
200 - 1. Travis Humphrey (PG) 24.3, 2. Cameron Conrad (PG), 3. Bobby Potter (PG).
400 - 1. Matt Hoppes (PG) 56.1, 2. Ryan Eck (PG), 3. Justin Delp (T).
800 - 1. Lance Williams (T) 2:21.3, 2. William Breiner (T), 3. Pat Lally (PG).
1600 - 1. Joe Rudy (T) 5:31.9, 2. Pat Lally (PG), 3. Kyle Bauer (T).
3200 - 1. Joe Rudy (T) 13:10, 2. Travis Hill (T), 3. Nach Levan (PG).
110 H.H. - 1. Dave Fehr (PG) 16.7, 2. Eric Hertzog (T), 3. Tyler Krell (T).
300 I.H. - 1. Philip Christman (T) 43.9, 2. Josh Bell (PG), 3. Eric Hertzog (T).
400 relay - Pine Grove (Brandon Nagle, Shane Weeks, Cameron Conrad, Travis Humphrey) 48.0.
1600 relay - Pine Grove (Matt Hoppes, Josh Bell, John Deibler, Brady Burke) 3:56.9
3200 relay - Tamaqua (Travis Hill, Lance Williams, Brandon Clemson, Joe Rudy) 10:15.
Shot put - 1. Jon Ansbach (T) 38-11, 2. William Breiner (T), 3. Danny Mack (PG).
Discus - 1. Kenny Sites (PG) 98-6, 2. Peter Conforti (T), 3. John Deibler (PG).
Javelin - 1. Josh Turner (T) 137-0, 2. William Breiner (T), 3. Glen Wolfe (PG).
Long jump - 1. Brady Burke (PG) 19-3 , 2. Zach Lakitsky (T), 3. Larry Zimmerman (PG).
Triple jump - 1. Larry Zimmerman (PG) 40-8 1/2, 2. Brady Burke (PG), 3. Tyler Krell (T).
High jump - 1. Brady Burke (PG) 5-10, 2. Larry Zimmerman (PG), 3. Tyler Krell (T).
Pole vault - 1. Philip Christman (T) 9-6, 2. J.J. Hannon (T), 3. Joshua Guscott (T).
Tamaqua 113, Pine Grove 36
100 - 1. Maria Streisel (T) 13.4, 2. Waliesha Moat (PG), 3. Brittany Hill (T).
200 - 1. Kayla Hope (T) 26.8, 2. Brittany Hill (T), 3. Katie Hummel (T).
400 - 1. Carly O'Malley (T) 1:05.4, 2. Shannon Zimmerman (PG), 3. Caitlin Trainer (T).
800 - 1. Dana Ansbach (T) 2:40.7, 2. Amber Hoffman (PG), 3. Kaylee Rottet (T).
1600 - 1. Dana Ansbach (T) 6:15, 2. Rachael Wehr (T), 3. Kelsey Patrick (T).
3200 - 1. Emily Bumbulsky (T) 14:16, 2. Paige Kosica (T), 3. Rachel Brown (PG).
100 L.H. - 1. Taylor Gerber (T) 17.4, 2. Samantha Digilio (T), 3. Julie Lesniak (T).
300 I.H. - 1. Jen Yost (PG) 48.7, 2. Taylor Gerber (T), 3. Julie Lesniak (T).
400 relay - Tamaqua (Kayla Hope, Maria Streisel, Samantha Digilio, Brittany Hill) 51.6.
1600 relay - Pine Grove (Amber Hoffman, Addie Geiger, Jen Yost, Shannon Zimmerman) 4:37.4.
3200 relay - Tamaqua (Dana Ansbach, Kaylee Rottet, Kelsey Patrick, Cecily Kohlmeir) 10:45.
Shot put - 1. Kalene Anderson (PG) 36-4, 2. Christine Streisel (T), 3. Allison Updike (T).
Discus - 1. Carly O'Malley (T) 87-6, 2. Kalene Anderson (PG), 3. Stacey Wallace (T).
Javelin - 1. Allie Updike (T) 143-7, 2. Christine Streisel (T), 3. Kalene Anderson (PG).
Long jump - 1. Maria Streisel (T) 16-1 1/2, 2. Kayla Hope (T), 3. Brittni Copeland (PG).
Triple jump - 1. Brittni Copeland (PG) 32-1 , 2. Kayla Hope (T), 3. Taylor Gerber (T).
High jump - 1. Jackie Stewart (T) 4-8, 2. Kaylee Rottet (T), 3. Mackenzie Mayes (PG).
Pole vault - 1. Melody Kelly (T) 9-0, 2. Alaina Reese (T), 3. not awarded.