The Tamaqua girls' track team was the early favorite heading into Jim Thorpe's invitational track meet on Friday and the Lady Raiders did't disappoint.
Behind another strong showing from junior Kayla Hope, the Raiders ran away with the Jim Thorpe Invitational championship. Hope placed first in all four events she competed in the 200-meter dash, the long jump, the triple jump and the 400-meter relay.
Hope won the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, seven and three-quarters inches. She took home the triple jump with a hop, skip and a jump of 34 feet, five and a half inches.
"I felt pretty good with the long jump," said Hope. "The pit wasn't one of my favorites and it was pretty cold out, but overall I think I did alright.
"I am still working on the triple jump. I'm not really happy with my phases. I have a lot to work on. I have to work on my step from my second phase to my third. My coach keeps telling me about it, but I just have to keep practicing."
Then, toward the end of the night, Hope expelled all the energy she had left in the 200-meter dash. Although coming in nearly a full second behind Jim Thorpe's Ashley Nicola in the preliminaries, Hope bounced back and finished the finals with a time of 26.53 seconds 0.69 seconds ahead of Nicola.
Hope, along with Taylor Gerber, Alexandra Wagner and Caitlin Trainer, also won the 400-meter relay with a time of 52.33 seconds.
"We all felt very good in the relay," said Hope. "Our handoffs were finally perfect. We have worked on that a lot because they haven't really been there at all.
"I had a lot of good competition in the 200 and the girls really pushed me. They are very nice runners. I knew I was ahead in the prelims so I did kind of slow down at the end to try and save some energy with all the events I was doing today."
Fellow Raider Kelsey Patrick won the only other individual event for the team. She took first in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:31.63. She had a hand on the winning 3200-meter relay team as well. Patrick, Amber Carroll, Cecily Kohlmeir and Dana Ansbach put together a winning time of 10:28.54. Patrick also placed third in the 1600-meter run.
Jim Thorpe and Palmerton each had two winners on the girls' side. The Olympians' Sam Harlan and Nicola won the 100 hurdles and the 100-meter dash respectively. Harlan set a new person best with a time of 16.42, while Nicola recorded a time of 12.95.
The Bombers' two winners were Kelsey Hay (javelin, 122-0) and Lauryn Solt (high jump, 4-10). Lehighton's Sarah Keer also won gold in the shot put with a throw of 33 feet, six inches and placed second in the javelin.
On the boys' side, the Raiders held a slim two-point lead heading into the final event, but lost to Lancaster Catholic in the 1600-meter relay and in turn lost the title.
Two local boys posted multiple victories.
Lehighton's Jon Strauss, who won both the javelin (187-9) and the long jump (19-9).
"It was a good day," said Strauss. "I feel like I have a lot more to offer in the javelin I'm really just trying to work on my lower body.
"I haven't really got to practice the long jump so far this year, so once I start practicing I think I will get better results. I am feeling pretty confident in both events though."
Palmerton's Kevin Seemiller did his thing and took home the 800 and 1600-meter runs. Seemiller posted times of 2:06.78 and 4:45.10 respectively.
"I felt really great," Seemiller said. "I wanted to come out hard and do my best and I feel that is what I did. I was optimistic and all, but I didn't expect to do as good as I did in the mile. I'll take it though."
Tamaqua's Zack Lakitsky (100-meter, 11.46) and Josh Turner (discus, 134-6), along with Palmerton's John Snyder (shot put, 41-8) and Northern Lehigh's Mike Seremula (triple jump, 40-8) won gold medals as well. The Tamaqua 400-meter relay team of Lakitsky, Eric Hertzog, Josh Turner and Zach Ruba won with a time of 45.34. Lakitsky also placed second in both the 200-meter dash and the long jump.
Picking up second place finishes on the girls' side were Sage Terrembul (Lehighton, 100M), Lindsey Pekurney (Palmerton, 400M), Cecily Kohlmeir (Tamaqua, 800M), Amber Carroll (Tamaqua, 1600M), Andrea Stevko (Palmerton, 3200M), Taylor Gerber (Tamaqua, 100 and 300 hurdles), Kelsey Hay (Palmerton, shot put), Gwen Remaley (Lehighton, discus), Casey Rinfret (Palmerton, long jump), Sam Doherty (Palmerton, triple jump) and Autumn Stauffer (Northern Lehigh, high jump).
Picking up second place finishes on the boys' side were Tyler Hope (Tamaqua, 100M and javelin), Jon Rabenold (Lehighton, 400M), Darien Middaugh (Northern Lehigh, 800M), Eric Hertzog (Tamaqua, 100 hurdles), Dante Lynch (Jim Thorpe, shot put), Levi Haldeman (Lehighton, discus) and Rob Hanzlik (Northern Lehigh, high jump).
Picking up third place finished on the girls' side were Angelica Poalillo (Jim Thorpe, 100M), Kayla Susko (Jim Thorpe, 400M), Sam Corcoran (Northern Lehigh, 3200M), Kristen Romano (Palmerton, 100 and 300 hurdles), Amanda Solt (Tamaqua, shot put), Gillian Ferko (Marian, triple jump and discus) and Mylena Gilkes (Jim Thorpe, long jump).
Picking up third place finishes for the boys' were Tyler Hope (Tamaqua, 200M), Jordan Frank (Tamaqua, 3200M), David Getz (Northern Lehigh, 100 hurdles), Caleb Johnson (Northern Lehigh, 300 hurdles), Eric Whiteman (Lehighton, shot put), Dylan Baranowsky (Marian, discus), Josh Turner (Tamaqua, javelin), P.J. Johnson (Jim Thorpe, long jump) and Brad Ehret (Palmerton, high jump and triple jump).