WHITEHALL – At one point it seemed like every girl who stepped into the shot put circle during yesterday's District 11 track and field championship was going to states.
Tamaqua's Christine Streisel patiently waited her turn.
On her second throw of the competition, Streisel heaved the shot put 38 feet, five and a quarter inches to move past Lehighton's Gwen Remaley to the top of the podium.
Streisel's gold was one of three for Tamaqua girls athletes yesterday at Whitehall High School. The Blue Raider junior won perhaps the deepest event in the championship's history as seven girls from the shot put qualified for the state meet at Shippensburg next week.
"It was very exciting and right in a row six or seven of us got in," Streisel said. "Right away you could see that there was going to be competition and a high level of difficulty to go out there and win this."
Remaley finished second with a throw of 38-1 and three other area girls met the state-qualifying standard of 36 feet.
Joining them in the shot put at Ship will be Palmerton's Kelsey Hay (fourth, 36-7 1/2), Northern Lehigh's Aimee Oertner (fifth, 36-7) and Sarah Keer of Lehighton (seventh, 36-0 ).
"Almost everyone that threw, I knew them before today and they're my friends," Remaley said. "I cheered them on. It got a little calmer after the first round, but it was still nerve-racking."
The weeks leading up to the first day of the district meet were certainly nerve racking for Tamaqua's Kayla Hope.
Nursing shin splints, the Blue Raider senior took some time off from competition and spent plenty of time icing her lower legs.
It turned out that the allure of a gold medal was all the medicine Hope needed.
Hope, the defending state long jump champion, won the event for the second straight year, collecting the fourth district medal of her career with a jump of 17 feet, 10 inches.
"I had so much adrenaline for the long jump I wasn't even thinking about [shin splints] at all," Hope said. "I know they're not going to go away and I need to just get over it."
Hope's jump was over a foot better than her teammate Maria Streisel, who also qualified for the state meet with a second place finish.
A fourth teammate joined them when Kelsey Patrick took gold in the 3200.
Patrick, a senior, captured her first individual district gold in an event she ran just twice all season.
"I ran this just for practice in the mile and I ended up liking it," Patrick said. "I figured I'd try it today."
Patrick was seeded over 30 seconds faster than her nearest competitor and breezed through the race, finishing over 16 seconds ahead of Moravian Academy's Emily Smith. She wasn't pushed during the race.
All three Tamaqua girls will look to add to their gold medal count on Thursday, where they'll all be highly seeded in other events. Patrick had the fastest time in the 1600 and second fastest in the 800. Christine Streisel is seeded first in the javelin, where she has the second-best throw in the nation this season.
Hope will try to defend her title in the 200, where she finished with the fourth fastest qualifying time in Wednesday preliminary race. Palmerton's Jess Pereira ran the fastest time, while Blue Raiders Cecily Kohlmeir and Caitlin Trainer also made the final.
The Class 2A girls 100 meter final will feature Pereira (12.91) and Lehighton's Sage Terembula (13.36). Pereira was 0.02 seconds behind top qualifier Amy Kester of Notre Dame.
A pair of Lehighton athletes will run for gold in the 100 hurdles as teammates Maris Stern (17.51) and Lauren Michalik (17.76) both qualified.
In Class 3A Pleasant Valley's Kelecia Harris ran the fastest time in both the 100 and 200 prelims. Teammate Kiasia Dunbar qualified fifth in the 100 hurdles.