SHIPPENSBURG - Joe Hall walked out of Seth Grove Stadium as a double State medal winner.
The Northwestern senior was seeded within medal range in two events as he entered the PIAA State Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, and he managed to deliver on that promise.
The University of South Florida recruit placed fourth in the Class AAA javelin and tied for eighth place in the AAA high jump, making his responsible for half of the medals earned by TIMES NEWS area athletes during the boys competition Saturday.
Lehighton senior Cory Kresge leaped to a bronze medal in the AAA long jump, while Northern Lehigh senior Zach Fleming placed sixth in the AA 1,600 meters.
Hall was seeded seventh in the javelin with his District 11 runner-up throw of 191 feet, seven inches, which is his personal best. Hall led the event at Districts until Blue Mountain's Tyler Rolshausen beat him on the final attempt.
This time, Hall outdid his D-11 rival, coming up with a top heave of 185 feet. Rolshausen's best attempt was 176-3, which placed him ninth, one spot away from a Top eight medal. The gold medal went to Ben Koyack of Oil City at 192-11.
"This was by far my best series of the season," said Hall. "I consistently hit in the 180's, so I can't complain. I only had one throw not at 180 feet or better."
Hall has qualified for States in the javelin as a sophomore, placing 19th at 166-9. He didn't qualify for the PIAA Meet as a junior, which made him appreciate reaching the awards stand this time.
"Victory is much sweeter after you experience loss," related Hall. "I'm disappointed I didn't get the school record (Jim Shade holds the Northwestern mark of 192-8 set in 1982), but there'll be college record to go for."
In the high jump, Hall is leaped six feet, seven inches this season. He cleared 6-5 at Districts to tie for the sixth seed at States, but his best effort on Saturday was 6-4, which it took him two attempts to clear. That left him tied with Robert Cardina of Conestoga Valley for the eighth place medal. Marcus Blakely of Coatesville cleared 6-8 to win the gold.
Hall said he wasn't close on his three attempts at 6-6 and jumped into the bar on his third try.
"It was kind of bittersweet. I was more happy with the medal than how I did," admitted Hall. "I know I can do better than 6-4. I'm disappointed with my jump, but happy that 6-4 was good enough to get eighth."
Bronze for Kresge
Like Hall, Cory Kresge qualified for States as a sophomore but missed out his junior year. Two year ago, Kresge finished 19th in the AAA long jump, leaping 21 feet.
Prior to Districts, Kresge wasn't even certain he would be able to compete for a chance to return to States, as he battled cellulitis in his arm. He bounced back to leap 22-2 1/2, which had him seeded 12th in the long jump field.
Kresge's best leap was 22-8 1/2, which tied him with Matt Green of Belle Vernon. However, Kresge's second best effort was 22-7 , which was better than Green's second best and gave Kresge the bronze. Carlton Lavong of Methacton won the gold medal at 24-8 1/2.
"I finally got off both of the antibiotics that I was on, and I felt good," related Kresge, whose personal best of 23-1 is an all-time TN Area record for the event. "I'm happy I got a chance to go to the finals and show what I can do.
"I didn't get a personal record, but I was able to move up to third on my final try, so I was thankful for that," added Kresge.
Zach Fleming has a busy day, competing in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter finals.
In the morning, Fleming first ran in the 3,200, where he was seeded fifth with his District time of 9:45.63. He settled into his pace behind the front on the pack and ended up with a sixth place medal in a season's best 9:37. Alex Beardsley of North East won the AA title at 9:25.34.
"This feels pretty good. It's what I have been working for all season," said Fleming, who is bound for Kutztown University next year. "I gave it all I had, and I'm content with what I got.
"I was in the middle fo the pack the whole time, not in a spot where I was getting boxed in. It was a pretty easy pace for me."
Fleming made a good attempt at earning a second medal in the 1,600 and was in contention for it as he headed for the finish line. He ended up in 10th place with a time of 4:28.39, which was off his season's best time of 4:24.45 that he managed in his trial heat the previous day.
Tamaqua junior Zach Lakitsky competed in the AA long jump, where he was D-11 champion and seeded 16th with a 21-6 1/2. Lakitsky's top jump was 20 feet, one-half inch, which placed him 19th overall.
Panther Valley senior Andrew Tucker participated in the AA discus, where he was seeded 22nd with his D-11 runner-up throw of 127-1. Tucker placed 21st, with his best throw at 120-6.