If you are a fan of track and field the place to be on Friday evening was Tamaqua Area High School. The third annual Tamaqua Blue Raider Invitational played host to 15 teams and three schools that just ran individuals to give area athletes quite the platform early on in the track season.
The TIMES NEWS area was represented by four schools at this year's Tamaqua Invite with Jim Thorpe, Marian, Panther Valley, and host Tamaqua all participating.
Many TIMES NEWS area athletes performed well on the day and some even broke personal and school records in the process.
Tamaqua's Eric Hertzog, who has been as lethal as anyone in the state in the 110 high hurdles didn't disappoint once again. Hertzog came home with gold in the event, which is his second gold of the season in an invite (won gold at Palisades Invitational on March 23). He also came close to topping his best time of the year (14.5), running a time of 14.6
"I just know I have to continue to push myself and stay motivated as the season moves on," said Hertzog. "I know what I need to do to get myself ready for the end of the season and performing well at these invites is key. There is a lot of good competition in these invitationals and I wanted to especially do well here today because we're hosting it. I would also like to mention that my teammates have been great for me. They're always cheering me on and that motivates me a lot and it just makes the whole thing more fun."
Tamaqua's Christine Streisel needs no introduction.
Streisel has made quite the name for herself throwing the javelin over the last few seasons, but has struggled a bit early in the 2013 track season. Streisel's numbers have still been good enough to win in the meets she competed, but with some of the monster throws she put up last season they haven't been good enough for her toughest critic, which happens to be herself. However, she got back on the right path Friday night with a throw of 140 feet, which was more than enough to bring home a gold.
"I felt a lot better today and I worked the last week or so solving some problems that needed to be fixed," said Streisel. "I know where I need to be and today was a good confidence builder for me. The trick is to not put to much pressure on myself. I'll continue to work hard and take it one meet at a time and everything will come together."
Another Tamaqua standout on the day was pole vaulter Rebecca Minehan. Minehan set a school and Tamaqua Stadium record in the girls pole vault with a vault of 10 feet.
"I'm just really happy that all the hardwork in the off-season is paying off," said Minehan. "I really put a ton of time in over the winter and summer practicing and trying to get better. I hope to get higher than I did today as the season goes on and we're going to try and set a league record before everything is said and done this year."
Marian's Nico Agosti ran a real nice race in 400 meter run (51.5) and blew away the competition in the last 200 meters of the race. Agosti, who is just a sophomore was part of Marian's District 11 AA champion 1,600 meter relay team last season. He showed a lot of potential in his freshman campaign and knew that this season was a chance for him to breakout in the area track scene.
"I just really tried to my job and pull my weight last season," said Agosti. "I wanted to push those guys to be better and in the process it made me a better runner. This season I knew I had the opportunity to make a mark and so far I've been working pretty hard to that. At invites like these it's real important to perform well because it gives you confidence when you head into districts and leagues. That's where you see the toughest competition and today there was a lot of talented runners out there."
Jim Thorpe's Courtney Capper has been performing well in the distance events for the Olympians this season. Capper once again had a nice showing, finishing second in 3,200 meter run with a time of 12:26.4.
"I broke the school record here last season and today I was able to break my record that I broke last season," said Capper. "I think training a lot with the boys at practice and off-season has really helped me become a stronger runner.
"I just really need to keep my focus and keep my head in it. Believing in yourself is big in this sport and I just have to keep doing that."
The host Raiders by far had the best day on the track. Along with Hertzog, Christine Streisel, and Minehan there were a few other Tamaqua athletes that had solid days.
Tyler Hope won the gold in the boys javelin with a strong effort. The senior made a throw of 195-4, besting the field. Maria Streisel came home second in the 100 meter run (13.4) and also took second in the long jump (16-11).
Marian had some athletes come through with nice performances as well.
The Fillies Alex Hutta won the gold in the 300 individual hurdles with a time of 51.6. Emily Sofranko also had a fine individual performance in the 1,600 meter run, finishing third (4:28.2). Lastly, the Marian boys 1,600 meter relay team came away with a second place finish (3:41.7)
Last, but not least, the Jim Thorpe Olympians produced some top finishers on the day.
Mike Harelston placed third in the triple jump (39-0), Khaaliq Lynch finished third in the 200 meter run (24.), and Jacob Saxon also took home third in the 1,600 meter run (4:49.8).
The Jim Thorpe squad finished out the night with a strong performance from their 1,600 meter relay team. The team of Amber Castillo, Anjelica Poalillo, Devon Matz, and Cat Condly took silver with a time of 4:28.2.