Thorpe's St. Hill stars
steve shinko/special to the times news Jim Thorpe's Kareem Mickens (right) finished first and Marian's Paul Martin finished second in the boys' 400 meter dash at the Schuylkill League Track Field Championships. In the center is Pottsville's Casey Guers who finished fourth.
MAHANOY CITY - A cold and damp spring day didn't prevent Carl St. Hill from providing a hot performance.
The Jim Thorpe senior sprinter dashed his way to four gold medals, two individual and two relays, at the Schuylkill League Track and Field Championships held Wednesday at Mahanoy Area High School..
On the girls side, the Lady Olympians' Ashley Nicola has a breakout performance, winning the 100 and 200 meter races.
Meanwhile, Tamaqua sophomore distance runner Amber Carroll and junior javelin thrower Allison Updike continued to dominate their events at the league meet.
Those performances highlighted the showing of THE TIMES NEWS Area athletes, who placed first in 13 events.
Other winners included Thorpe's Kareem Mickens in the 400 meters, Marian's Gillian Ferko in the discus and the Tamaqua girls 400 and 3,200 meter relays.
On a day when temperatures dipped into the 40's by evening on Alumni Field's all-weather track, St. Hill cruised to wins in the 100 (11.71 seconds) and 200 (23.26) dashes after entering the meet seeded second in both.
In addition, St. Hill was a member of the Olympians' winning 4x100 team (44.9) with Talon Fogal, Alex Garcia and P.J. Johnson and the first place 4x400 quartet (3:37.67) with Mickens, Garcia and Scott Lignore. Thorpe was top seeded in both races and took the Jerry Breslin Memorial Award by winning the 4x400.
"The times are slow, but coming in first feels great," said St. Hill. "I won the 200 last year and I really wanted to go back to back, but winning the 100 was fine, too.
"P.J. rolled his ankle, so we only used him on the 4x100 today to get the gold, but I think we'll be fine by Districts, because we run faster against better competition."
Tamaqua's Carroll had a multiple golden performance. She was seeded first in the 1,600 and 3,200 and was the defending champion in the former.
The Lady Raider soph pulled away from the pack on the third lap of the 1,600 and crossed the tape in 5:26.75, winning by almost five seconds ahead of Schuylkill Haven's Alyssa Miller.
"I wanted to make it a shorter race, because it's a lot easier if I don't use all of my energy on the first two laps," said Carroll, who captured the Rich Guinan Memorial Award for the second straight year by winning the 1,600. "I like the mile best, because I can keep my pace longer and my legs don't get tired easily."
Carroll also took the 3,200 in 11:33.56, besting Miller by over 34 seconds, and anchored the Raiders' top seeded 4x800 team of Kelsey Patrick, Dana Ansbach and Cecily Kohlmeir to first place in 10:15.94.
Carroll was denied a fourth gold in the 4x400, where the Raiders placed second to North Schuylkill, which set a new meet record of 4:08.61 to Tamaqua's 4:16.63.
New mark for Updike
Allison Updike continues to smash standards in the javelin.
Already the top seed by a wide margin, Updike hit a personal best 156 feet, nine inches on her first throw, surpassing her previous mark by an inch.
That heave set new Schuylkill League and meet records, as well as breaking her own school and all-time TN Area marks. Tamaqua's Casey Wagner was the previous all-time league record holder (146-3 in 2008) and meet mark holder (138-4 in 2007).
According to PennTrack.com, Updike's throw is the best in Pa. this season and is ranked second to Hannah Carson of Arizona nationally among scholastic girls.
"I'm definitely completely shocked by this," said Updike. "I had no idea I could pull this off today."
Updike, who also placed third in the shot put and discus, also had throws of 150-7 and 153-8 feet, which is impressive for any day, much less a chilly one.
"I feel I had been consistently in the 140's, so this gives me confidence I can be in the 150's," related Updike.
Breakout for Nicola
Thorpe's Nicola, a junior, was seeded second to teammate JaAshia Page in the 100 and Tamaqua's Kayla Hope in the 200, but she came through with wins, being clocked at 13.25 in holding off Page in the 100 and 27.14 to outrun Hope in the 200.
"I'm really excited," said Nicola. "This is the first time I'm ahead of JaAshia. She's always pushing me. Today I had really good blocks, and when I get out of the blocks like that, I do really good."
Nicola was also a member of the Olympians' 4x100 team, which finished second to the Tamaqua foursome of Samantha Digilio, Maria Streisel, Hope and Brittany Hill. The Raiders took the gold in 51.39.
The Olympians' Mickens picked up his second gold in the 400. The top seed, Mickens was clocked at 52.56 to edge Marian's Paul Martin at the finish.
Marian's lone first came from Ferko, a junior who was the defending discus champion and was top seeded heading into the competition. Ferko took home the gold once again with a top throw of 105-9, almost five feet further than Pine Grove's Kalene Anderson.
Panther Valley's top finisher was senior Justin Christman, who placed second in the 800. Other second went to Marian's Martin and Madison Monaco, both in the 400; Thorpe's Page in the 100 and long jump and Hilary Reis in the high jump; and Tamaqua's Hope in the 200 and Christine Streisel in the javelin.
Among other performers, North Schuylkill's Meg O'Keefe took four golds (100 and 300 hurdles, 400, 4x400) while Blue Mountain's Kyle Laughlin won three events, sweeping the long, triple and high jumps. The Eagles also had multiple wins from Jordan Hoffman (who has area ties through his father Rick, a Tamaqua native) in the 110 and 300 hurdles and Tyler Rolshausen in the discus and javelin.