Vanessa Rimbey had a golden performance at last year's District 11 Track and Field Championships, and the Lehighton senior is positioned for a repeat.
The District meet is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at Allentown's J. Birney Crum Stadium, with competition set to begin at 3 p.m. each day.
At stake, in addition to District bragging rights, are berths to the PIAA State Championships, to be held once again at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium over Memorial Day weekend.
In order to qualify for States, athletes must finish either first or six in their events, or hit predetermined PIAA qualifying standards. The key is, they must do it at Districts; a bad day can prevent a performer from making the cut for the State Meet, even if they have previously managed to surpass the PIAA standards.
Qualifying for States was no problem last year for Rimbey, who placed first in the Class AA 100 meter hurdles (15.71 seconds), long jump (18 feet, six inches) and high jump (clearing five feet, four inches). She also finished finished fourth in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles.
Rimbey automatically earned State berths with her three first places, but she also easily surpassed State qualifying standards in each event for good measure.
Following Monday evening's District seeding meeting at Northern Lehigh, Rimbey is top seeded in the three events in which she is defending her D-11 crowns, leading the pack in the 100 hurdles (14.94), long jump (18-1 1/2, one-half inch ahead of Lehighton teammate Abby Frey) and high jump (6-4).
In addition, Rimbey has also been a member of the Lady Indians' 4x100 relay, which is top seeded at 50.74, ahead of three other TN Area teams: Tamaqua (51.02), Jim Thorpe (51.14) and Palmerton.
That gives Rimbey a hand in four of the 17 top seeds garnered by TN Area thinclads heading into District action.
Rimbey also has three of the 10 District titles held by TN Area returnees.
Tamaqua sophomore Amber Carroll was a double champion as a freshman last season, winning the Class AA 1,600 meters (5:15.67) and 3,200 (11:19.24), as well as placing third in the 800. Carroll returns as the top seed in both the 1,600 (11:33.56) and is seeded third in the 1,600. She also anchors the Lady Raiders' 4x800 quartet, which is seeded second to Bethlehem Catholic at 9:57.04.
Updike aims at record
Raider junior Allison Updike is the returning Girls AA javelin champion, winning the gold at 135-1 last year despite coming off of a knee injury sustained during basketball season. Updike went on to place seventh at the State Meet after finishing fourth as a freshman.
Updike is the heavy favorite to retain her D-11 title. In fact, her top distance of 156-9 this season, which she threw at last week's Schuylkill League Championships, is better than the District AA record of 146-9, set by Wilson's Heather Korhammer in 1985. That league winning throw is also the best in Pa. and second nationally this outdoor season, according to the PennTrack.com website.
Updike is also seeded second in the shot put and sixth in the discus, but following her in the javelin seedings are two girls who have also already surpassed the PIAA standard of 121 feet: Tamaqua's Christine Streisel (139 feet) and Colonial League champ Kelsey Hay of Palmerton (127-3).
The other returning area champion in AA is Jim Thorpe's JaAshia Page, who won the 100 meter dash last year (12.85) and anchored Jim Thorpe's winning 4x100 foursome. Page is seeded fifth in the 100 this time, but she is the top seed in the triple jump at 36-2 1/2 and is third seeded in the long jump behind the Lady Indians' Rimbey and Frey.at 17-7 , with 16-11 the State standard.
Frey is top seeded in the 200 at 26.04 and is second to Saucon Valley's Alyssa Lombardo in the 100 to go with her long jump and 4x100 seeds.
Two other area State qualifiers are back among the AA girls: Lehighton's Sheena White placed second in the discus last year and is the number two seed again at 108-4, and Jim Thorpe's Hilary Reis is once again seeded second behind Rimbey, with a top leap of 5-4.
Fleming, Buck will defend
In Boys AA, Northern Lehigh senior Zach Fleming returns to defend his 3,200 title, while Palmerton's Lanny Buck is the defending pole vault champ.
Fleming is seeded second behind Notre Dame's Bryan Magee in the 3,200 at 9:54.84 and is seeded third in the 1,600. Fleming ran the 3,200 in 10:01.59 to take the title a year ago.
At 15 feet, Buck is the favorite to retain his District pole vault gold; he cleared 14 feet in last year's meet. Buck missed last week's Colonial League Meet, and a showdown with Saucon Valley's Adam Phillippi, due to a school-related matter. Phillippi is competing in AAA at Districts.
Jim Thorpe's Carl St. Hill is coming off of a four gold-medal showing at the Schuylkill League championships and qualified for States in the 100 last year as a third place finisher. St. Hill is seeded second at 23.14 in the 200 meters to Northern Lehigh's Cody Remaley (22.84) but is also a member of the Olympians' top seeded 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
Remaley is also the top seed in the 100 at 11.34.
Other area top seeds in Boys AA are Northern Lehigh's Caleb Johnson in the high jump (6-1) and Jim Thorpe's Alex Garcia in the triple jump (43-5). Second seeds include Thorpe's Kareem Mickens in the 400, Tamaqua's Zach Lakitsky in the long jump and the No. Lehigh 4x800 relay.
Tigers in AAA
Northwestern's boys and girls are competing in AAA, which ups the ante for its top performers, due to tougher State standards, not the mention the presence of the Lehigh Valley and Mountain Valley Conferences.
Senior Lindsay Kerr is the defending Girls AAA 800 champ (2:18.98) and also qualified for States in the 1,600 despite a fifth place finish (5:08.11). Kerr, the Girls AA State Cross Country champion and a Wake Forest recruit, is top seeded in the 3,200 at 11:04.8 and is second in the 800 at 2:19.34. Her 3,200 time is well under the State standard of 11:13.30. She is also seeded third in the 1,600 at 5:07.34 , six second below the State cut-off.
The Tigers' Joe Hall placed third in the javelin at 174-6 and tied for third in the high jump at 6-3 at Districts last year, missing the cut for States in both. This time Hall, whose headed to South Florida, is seeded second in the javelin at 181-10 and is third in the high jump at 6-7, both above the State standards of 178 feet and 6-5, respectively. Hall is also seeded fifth in the discus.
Lehighton's Cory Kresge gained the lone area top seed among the AAA boys, leading the long jump at 22-11 ; the State cut-off is 21-10. Northwestern's Tim East is seeded second in the 300 hurdles at 39.1. (39.8 is the PIAA standard).
In Girls AAA, Pleasant Valley's Amira Jones is the second seed in the triple jump at 37-9 1/2; 36-6 is needed to make it to States if she doesn't hold her seed.