WHITEHALL Kelsey Hay claims she doesn't prefer throwing in wet, soggy conditions.
Her results in those situations, however, prove otherwise.
Competing in rainy weather during the first day of the Colonial League championships, the Palmerton senior earned the area's only gold medal on Tuesday. Hay, who won the shot put, also received a silver in the discus while posting a personal best in the event.
"I would love 80 degrees and sunny," said Hay. "I don't mind sweating. That's when I feel the most loose and ready to throw. But eveyone is throwing in the same conditions.
"We had about an hour and a half to two hour delay for the discus so it was kind of crazy. There were downpours at times when we were in the circle but it all worked out. It is what it is and everybody is throwing in it. I just knew I had to buckle down and get it out of my head. The rain is going to get to everybody but it's who can hold it together and do the best."
Hay, seeded fifth in the discus, turned in her best effort of the season throwing 93-8 to finish behind Notre Dame's Mary Paige Nesfeder. Later in the day, her first throw of 35-11 in the shot was good enough to hold off the rest of the field.
"I was seeded fifth (in the discus) so I wasn't really expecting much but I knew I could come out here and try to give it a run. It's the first event of the day and I've never thrown discus first so it was something different and I was fresh for it. I wanted to hit 37 (in the shot put), but I can't be mad about what I threw. It won and that's all I'm happy about - getting points for my team.
"I looked at this meet today as just fun. I've relaxed the whole day and I think that's what's got me the two medals - just relaxing and knowing I've done this before so many times, and I can do it again. It definitely helps coming into a meet with that type of attitude. It also helped today with the great field I had to throw against. It's always encouraging to throw against girls who are pushing you the whole time."
One of those girls Hay faced was Northern Lehigh's Aimee Oertner in the shot put. The Bulldog senior took second with an effort of 35-5, which was her personal best.
Oertner's runner-up finish was one of seven among TIMES NEWS area athletes. Besides Hay and Oertner, other silver medals were secured by Palmerton's Jess Debski (300 hurdles) and Brad Ehret (high jump), Northwestern's Haley Yost (3200) and Tyler Stelmack (3200) and Northern Lehigh's Caleb Johnson (300 hurdles).
"I knew it was going to be crappy weather so I was just going to try my best to not let the weather affect me," said Oertner. "I just wanted to keep my mind calm and get my PR which I did. Before the shot I had the discus and I didn't do well there. It was raining and it was miserable out but with the shot put you can't really blame anything, there's no excuses. I just went out there and said I just need to throw good for once. I ended up throwing well.
"Having Kelsey here, she's great in every throwing event so having competition is always a good thing."
The Tigers' Yost and Stelmack faced significant competition in the 3200.
Yost, who only ever ran the 3200 once before, saw Saucon Valley's Elizabeth Chikotas finish well ahead of the field in a meet record of 11:14.81. The Northwestern sophomore was a solid second, though, finishing nearly 20 seconds before teammate Rachel Cerrone. The Tigers, incidentally, also took fifth, sixth and seventh in the event.
"It was helpful to have all my teammates there and we all pushed each other. Once I knew I had to make my move, I made my move.
"I knew I shouldn't go out and try to stay with Liz because her time was really good in the 3200 prior to this race. I just wanted to go out and do what I needed to do to get a medal."
Stelmack received the same medal as Yost, which was surprising to some.
The top seed in the 3200, Stelmack led almost the entire race with Bangor's Wade White right behind him. An impressive kick down the stretch, though, allowed the Slater junior to take the gold.
"I'm happy," said Stelmack. "I got my best time so far. I have to give it to Wade. That was one heckuva kick at the end of the race. He's a great person to run against and he deserved it. He really worked hard for it.
"I felt him the whole time ... he had me in front of him so he got a little extra help with that. I was hoping I'd have a little stronger kick than I did. He's always had a strong kick for as long as we've raced. I am looking forward to (facing him again at districts)."
Nolehi's Johnson also entered action as a top seed. In fact, the Bulldog was seeded first in both the 300 hurdles and high jump. Johnson managed third in the high jump before having to turn around and compete right away on the track. In the hurdles, he took a silver finishing a mere six one-hundredths of a second behind Pen Argyl's Jason Brandt.
"I'll take some hardware with me," said Johnson. "I'm not complaining. I'm grateful. (The weather) affected me, but it affected everybody here. I can't blame anything on the weather. Physically I was all right. I stuttered a couple of hurdles. I can work that out and hopefully do better at districts.
"That was definitely a good race. There's some good runners there. It was maybe the third last hurdle that I stuttered a little bit. You can't do that against good runners. In the high jump with the weather and everything, to do 6-1 in our league is pretty good. That's what they did and they're good jumpers."
One of those jumpers to do 6-1 was Palmerton's Ehret. The other was Collin Blaydon of Palisades, who won the event by having fewer misses.
"Especially in the weather we're having here, I was happy with second," said Ehret. "I almost got my personal best so I'm proud of that. Hopefully the weather will be nicer next week (at districts) and I can do better."
The Bombers' Debski was also happy with her second-place finish in the 300 hurdles.
Notre Dame's Amy Kester, as expected, smoked the field in the event but Debski held off Carla Dutt of Wilson to claim that second spot.
"It was a pretty difficult race because of the rain being in your eyes," said Debski. "I did my best with my form and everything and I was excited I got second. I was seeded second, and I wanted to get that. First would have been amazing but Amy is a really good runner. So second was perfectly fine and I feel like I accomplished a lot. I also feel honored in helping the team out too."