Updike, Buck get top state seeds
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Palmerton's Lanny Buck has earned a top seed in the pole vault for this weekend's PIAA Track and Field championships.
The past two seasons, Allison Updike went into the PIAA State Track and Field Championships as the hunter.
The Tamaqua junior ended up bagging a fourth place medal in the Class AA javelin as a freshman and a seventh place last year, although she was still recovering from a knee injury.
For this weekend's State Meet, Updike will be both the hunter and the hunted, as she will be seeking gold in the AA javelin as the top seed in the field.
Also drawing a top seed for the PIAA Meet is Palmerton senior Lanny Buck, who is tied for the number one spot in the AA pole vault.
Updike and Buck are two of 43 entries from THE TIMES NEWS area set to compete at States, which will be held Friday and Saturday, once again at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium.
Updike has had a phenomenal spring. She has established new school, Schuylkill League, District 11 and TN Area records in the javelin, breaking her personal best five times in the process.
The past two weeks, at the Schuylkill and District 11 championships, Updike has consistently been in the 150's. She set the new Schuylkill standard at 156-9, then bettered that at Districts with a record-shattering 157-11.
The latter throw has Updike seeded first in AA for States. It is also the third best throw in the U.S. this season, according to the PennTrack.com website, trailing Hannah Carson of Chandler H.S. in Arizona (171-9) and Tori Paterra on Elizabeth Forward, Pa., who has thrown 162-9 and is seeded first in AAA at States; Indian Valley's Laura Loht, who finished ahead of Updike at the Penn Relays, is second in AAA at 154-11.
The seedings for the PIAA Meet are based on performances from the respective District Meets. Updike's 157-11 is 10 feet, three inches ahead of the next closest competitor, Kaitchen Dearborn of Blue Ridge (147-8), who placed eighth in AA a year ago, one place behind Updike.
Lurking in the field, however, is Lakeview senior Fawn Miller, the two-time defending AA champion. Miller is currently seeded fourth at 140-1, but she is a clutch performer. Two years ago, after outdueling Tamaqua's Casey Wagner for the crown, Miller uncorked a final heave of 167-2, which is the current PIAA record for the AA javelin. Last year Miller defended her title with a throw of 151-9 on her final attempt.
"I'd feel more at ease if Fawn was the top seed, because once you get that top seed, there's so much more pressure on you," said Updike. "She can pop one off at any time, so you always have to take her seriously."
Also back in this year's AA field are Northern Cambria's Jessica Rocco, who placed second last year; Meghan Morton of St. Pius X, Pottstown, who was third; and Jenna Wargo of Lewisburg, who placed fourth.
Tamaqua freshman Christine Streisel is seeded 17th at 126-1, and Palmerton sophomore Kelsey Hay is seeded 18th at 126 feet even.
None of those number matter unless one performs during the actual State competition. Updike has been on a roll, with her distances getting progressively longer over the last couple of weeks, which could bode well for the upcoming PIAA shootout.
"I've been focused on getting a personal record every single meet," said Updike. "150 was the number I was shooting for earlier. My new number, I can't say yet," she added with a smile.
BUCK IS BACK - Lanny Buck has qualified for States in the pole vault since his sophomore season. He has finished tied for ninth place twice, once spot away from the PIAA medal stand. Both times he was seeded at 14 feet and ended up clearing 13-6.
This year, Buck enters State competition coming off tying for his personal best of 15 feet in defending his District 11 AA crown, which Bucks shares as the TN Area record with Noah Billig of Northwestern Lehigh.
Buck is bidding to become Palmerton's second State pole vault champion, joining Dennis Lentz, who turned the trick in 1977.
Buck is tied for the top AA seed with Towanda senior Dylon Miller. Seeded right behind them is another Towanda vaulter, senior Robert Mitros, who cleared 14 feet last year to place sixth. Mitros enters the meet seeded at 14-6. Delone Catholic senior Kevin Brady is next at 14-1.
The highest returning medal winner in the field is Jeremy Nease of Bermudian Springs, who cleared 14-6 to place fourth a year ago but enters the State meet at 13 feet.
Buck feels he is within reach of his ultimate goal. "Win states, that is it," he said after just missing on three tries at a District 11 15-4 last week. "I want to jump higher than my best. I always want to beat myself."
MULTIPLE MANIA - A number of area athletes will be competing in several events at States.
Participating in four events will be Jim Thorpe's Carl St. Hill (AA 100, 200, 4x100 and 4x400) and JaAshia Page (100, 4x100, long and triple jumps) and Lehighton's Vanessa Rimbey (AA 100 hurdles, 4x100, long and high jumps) and Abby Frey (100, 200, 4x100 and long jump)..
Among the three-event athletes are Tamaqua's Amber Carroll (AA 1,600 and 3,200) and Thorpe's Alex Garcia (AA triple jump, 4x100, 4x400).
All of the above participants are including relays in their event totals. Coaches reserve the right to substitute alternates in some of those relays if necessary.
A number of thinclads are participating in two individual events, and they include Northern Lehigh's Zach Fleming (AA 1,600 and 3,200), Tamaqua's Zach Lakitsky (AA 100 and long jump) and Northwestern's Joe Hall (AAA javelin and high jump).
While some athletes who qualify for States elect to drop an event or two in order to concentrate on their specialties, others enjoy the challenge of competing in multiple events.
"I'm after a State medal, and four events gives you a better chance," said Rimbey, who has her best shots at medals coming in the 100 meter hurdles, where she is seeded third at 15.42, and in the high jump, where she cleared 5-4 at Districts, which has her tied for the third seed but is below her personal best of 5-6. Rimbey is also seeded fifth in the long jump.
Rimbey is one of four TN area entries in the AA long jump, leading the way at 17-11 . Also in that event are Tamaqua's Kayla Hope (17-3 , 12th), Frey (17-2, 14th) and Page (17 feet, one-half inch, 17th).
There are also four TN area entries in the girls AA 4x100, led by Jim Thorpe (49.74, ninth), Tamaqua (50.14, 12th), Lehighton (50.51, 17th) and Palmerton (50.71, 20th).
Two who picked up events when others opted out were Frey in the 100 (when Saucon Valley's Alyssa Lombardo dropped out) and Jim Thorpe's Kayla Susko in the 1,600 (when Notre Dame's Allison Constant scratched herself).
TOP TEN SEEDS - In addition to Updike, Buck, Rimbey and the Jim Thorpe 4x100, here are the other TN area State qualifiers who are seeded in the top 10 of their respective events.
Alex Garcia, Jim Thorpe - AA triple jump, fourth (44-6)
Amber Carroll, Tamaqua - AA 3,200 (11:18.83)
Zach Fleming, Northern Lehigh - AA 3,200 (9:45.63)
Tim East, Northwestern - AAA 300 meter intermediate hurdles, sixth (38.67)
Joe Hall, Northwestern - AAA high jump, tied for sixth (6-5)
Hilary Reis, Jim Thorpe - AA high jump, tied for seventh (5-2)
Joe Hall, Northwestern - AAA javelin, seventh (191-7).
JaAshia Page, Jim Thorpe - AA triple jump, tied for 10th (35-9 ).
OTHER SEEDS not mentioned above are as follows:
BOYS AA - Carl St. Hill, Jim Thorpe (100, 11.42, 13th; 200, 23.21, 27th), Zach Lakitsky, Tamaqua (100, 11.45, tied for 16th; long jump, 21-6 1/2, 16th), Kareem Mickens, Jim Thorpe (400, 50.9, 22nd); Zach Fleming, No. Lehigh (1,600, 4:32.99, 18th); Jim Thorpe 4x100 (44.58, 23rd), Jim Thorpe 4x400 (3:29.3, 19th), William Breiner, Tamaqua (shot put, 45-3 , 27th), Andrew Tucker, Panther Valley (discus, 127-1, 22nd), and Ben Moore, Jim Thorpe (javelin, 164-5, 20th).
BOYS AAA - Cory Kresge, Lehighton (long jump, 22-3 1/2, 12th).
GIRLS AA - JaAshia Page, Jim Thorpe (100, 12.91, 26th); Abby Frey, Lehighton (100, 12.92, 27th; 200, 26.21, 16th); Ashley Nicola, Jim Thorpe (200, 26.28, 20th); Amber Carroll, Tamaqua (1,600, 5:13.58, 12th); Kayla Susko, Jim Thorpe (1,600, 5:39.46, 23rd).
GIRLS AAA - Lindsay Kerr, Northwestern (1,600, 5:13.04, 22nd); Amira Jones, Pleasant Valley (triple jump, 36-3 , 23rd).