ORWIGSBURG - Usually the team that wins the 400 relay gold medal at the District 11 Championships has been running together all season long. They know each others tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.
However, the Northwestern Tigers 400 boys relay team defied that logic on Thursday afternoon on day two of District 11 competition.
Cam Richardson, Austin Weiss, Cole Miller, and Harry Hall have only been running the 400 relay together since the middle of the season, but their efforts earned them all a AA gold medal with a time of 43.63.
"Austin and I were late add-ons to this 400 relay team and it really improved our time," said Northwestern's Cole Miller. "We just changed some things up and it really worked out for us. It's just a great feeling to be able to accomplish something like this."
Cam Richardson, who is the most experienced out of the four Tigers in the 400 relay expressed how special this group is and how surprisingly well they have gelled since the middle of the season.
"Last year I gained some experience going to leagues in the 400 relay, but we didn't make it any further than that," said Richardson. "Our coaches and us just got together and worked really hard since we got this foursome together at the mid-point in the season. Some of these guys never ran the 400 relay before, but we're all good friends and we just made the best of it."
Richardson has also been running well individually throughout the year and kept that momentum going on Thursday. The sophomore qualified for AA states in the 200 meter run, finishing second with a time of 22.73.
Harvard-bound for football, Northern Lehigh track standout Caleb Johnson once again didn't disappoint. The senior qualified for three state championship events, taking gold in the 200 meter run (22.66), 400 meter run (50.23), and earning a silver in the 110H with a time of 15.14.
"This is just a great atmosphere to run in and this is what you run hard the whole year for," said Johnson. "I've been running against the same guys all year and then to have the competition level raised and to have success makes you feel good about the work you put in. Qualifying for states is a great honor and it's an awesome environment out there. I'm just happy to be a part of it and I'm looking to perform well out there."
The Palmerton track team had a historic performance at this year's District 11 Track and Field Championships. The Bombers qualified eight individuals on the day between single events and relay events.
The Bombers Austin Shupp and John Snyder were the Palmerton athletes on the day that took home gold medals. Shupp, who has been battling with Caleb Johnson all season long in the 110H edged him at the finish line. Shupp ran a time of 15.09 a fraction ahead of Johnson, who ran a 15.14. Shupp also qualified for states in the 300H on day one, winning the gold in that as well
"One of my goals coming into this season was to make states, especially after just missing states in the 1600 relay last year," said Shupp. "I can be honest with you I really didn't expect to do as well as I did this season, but of course I'll take it. It means a lot to beat Caleb too. He's a great competitor and an even better guy and we've been running close all year. As far as states go, winning today and yesterday was big for my confidence and I really would like to make finals in both events."
John Snyder is mostly known for his prowess in the trenches on the gridiron, but he showed yesterday that he's not too bad at throwing the shotput either. The Palmerton senior earned a gold medal in the event with a throw of 52-2 1/2.
"My goal coming into today was just to come out and throw well, so I would have some confidence heading into states," said Snyder. "I had a pretty good year and it was important for me to get better every meet, so I could perform well at this level. Coming up at states I would really like to medal. Last year I qualified in the discus and I didn't do that well, so this year I want to definitely do better."
Palmerton's 400 relay team (Trevin Green, Austin Shupp, Alex Vignone, Gerald Pereira) and 1600 relay team (Gerald Pereira, Dominic Shivone, Shaun Seiler, Austin Shupp) also will be headed to Shippensburg next week with second place finishes.
The Marian boys track team also put together a nice showing on the afternoon. The Colts qualified five athletes for states on the day.
Sophomore Nico Agosti will be going to Shippensburg for two individual events, finishing second in the 400 (50.62) and third in the 200 (22.74).
"Today was really good, you work all season to get here and you push yourself, so to perform well is great," said Agosti. "This is my first time going out to states as an individual and it feels good to know that I did it on my own and that I could do it on my own."
Marian's Chris Bruno will also be heading to states, finishing second in the 100 (11.27). The Colts 1600 relay team will be going back to states for the second straight season. The team of Ryan Karnish, Nico Agosti, John Julian, and Chris Bruno earned a gold with a time of 3:28.39.
In AAA boys there were just two TIMES NEWS area athletes that qualified for states on day two.
Eric Hertzog of Tamaqua came home second in the 110H with a time of 14.55 and Pleasant Valley's John Wathen qualified in the 1600 with a second place finish (4:26.27).
"I had a little bit of a strategy going into the race, I knew Colin Albert was going to get out fast, so I knew I had to set myself up to try and catch him at the end there," said Wathen. "I let him get a little too far away, but it's still a great opportunity to get to compete at states. It's just a great feeling and I'm happy with it. I got a feel for states last year, but my big goal this year is to make to Saturday and run a 4:20 or better.
On the day the TIMES NEWS area had four individual boys win gold medals along with two area relay teams winning gold in the 400 and 1600 relay. In all the TN area had 17 male athletes qualify for states on day two of the District 11 Track and Field Championships.