ORWIGSBURG There's no denying that Tamaqua's Kayla Hope turned in an outstanding individual effort at the District 11 Class AA Track and Field championships the past two days.
After winning a gold in the long jump Wednesday, the junior followed that up Thursday with another gold in the 200 and a silver in the triple jump.
But despite all that success, what seemed to excite Hope the most was a first place that she had to share.
Running the second leg of the 400 relay, Hope teammed with Taylor Gerber, Caitlin Trainer and Maria Streisel to win the event in a time of 51.51.
It was one of five TIMES NEWS area firsts on a soggy second day at Blue Mountain High School. Besides Hope in the 200, Tamaqua's Amber Carroll (1600) and Christine Streisel (javelin), and Palmerton's Lauryn Solt (high jump) earned the right to stand atop the medal stand and guarantee themselves a trip to states next week.
"This was our goal for the whole season, we wanted to get to states together," said Hope of the relay team. "We're really close, so that makes it so much better. I think we were all expecting a closer race but we were all really hyped up so I think that might have given us a little more of an edge.
"We talked about how smooth our handoffs went. We've really been practicing them so we're just thankful they went well today. It's just awesome. Taylor, she's never been there (states) before so it's really exciting for her to come. We always tell people you can't imagine it (states) until you're there. I can't wait to see how she reacts to Shipp."
Many of the athletes Thursday had different reactions to the poor weather conditions.
The meet was initially delayed due to thunder and lightning in the area, and soon after track events started, another rumble forced a second stoppage.
The field events were the most affected by the rainy conditions as most of the events started way past their scheduled times.
The delay, however, couldn't stop Christine Streisel and Solt from turning in winning performances.
Streisel threw 135-10 in the javelin to better second-place finisher, Kelsey Hay of Palmerton, by over 16 feet. The sophomore successfully followed in the footsteps of last year's district and state champion Allison Updike, who couldn't compete this season due to an ACL injury.
"The weather conditions were not very good," said Streisel. "We were scheduled to start at 5 and by the time we started it was getting dark and cold. It was obviously wet. That was one of the reasons a lot of us didn't have our best throws. Winning is winning, though. No matter what the conditions are, I don't want to make any excuses for not throwing well. I didn't do what I was aiming for today but it is what it is.
"On the way here I was thinking I wish she (Ali) was here to compete against. I always loved having someone to go after. It was unfortunate that she couldn't be here to probably win against me."
Solt also had issues in the high jump, but was able to battle through them to give the Blue Bombers their only gold medal.
"We had two long rain delays," said Solt, who won the event by clearing 5-0. "We would get warmed up and then stop. It was hard to get motivated after having to stop. It was hard to stay confident. It was slippery going up to jump. A lot of the girls had problems because they weren't prepared with their shoes. I changed my steps a lot because of how slippery it was. I also had to keep a really clear mind.
"I stayed under the athletic trainers tent with a whole bunch of people. I wasn't sure if they were going to cancel it but they never did. I guess it's a good thing they didn't. I'm really surprised at myself because I had an off week a few weeks back and I finally came up strong at the end."
Carroll, who came up strong in winning the 3200 on Wednesday, doubled up her gold medals by taking the 1600 Thursday.
The Tamaqua junior held off Notre Dame's Katherine Downing to win in a time of 5:24.03.
"It was okay although the weather kind of affected the race," said Carroll. "It's hard to warm up. You feel all tight and you're not real loose. The whole time you're running you feel tight. After a while you get used to it.
"I felt in control. I knew she was there but I just tried to keep going and finish."
Besides Hay in the javelin and Hope in the triple jump, the TIMES NEWS had two others finish second. All runner-ups are also headed to next week's state meet at Shippensburg University.
Tamaqua's Cecily Kohlmeir bettered her 400 time by over a second, turning in a 1:00.71 to earn runner-up honors to Notre Dame's Amy Kester.
The Raiders' Maria Streisel also took second, running a 13.21 during a driving rain in the 100.
Individual third-place honors were achieved by Lehighton's Sage Terembula (100) and Sarah Keer (javelin), and Palmerton's Kristen Romano (100 hurdles). In Class AAA, Pleasant Valley's Losena Kearse earned a bronze in the triple jump.