Hertzog, Bray also earn trip to 'Shipp'
ORWIGSBURG - In need of an internal spark, Zack Lakitsky had to think of something quickly.
The Tamaqua senior wasn't alone in his search for that fire on an extremely wet second day of competition at the District 11 Track and Field Championships.
When rain and thunderstorms delayed the start of the meet, Lakitsky had a little extra time to think about his motivation.
"A lot of people didn't think I could be this competitive," said Lakitsky, recalling what he was thinking in the starting blocks of the 100 meter dash. "So, I just kept thinking about things people have said like the fact that I didn't work hard enough.
"I had that in my mind and I just wanted to prove them wrong."
And, that's exactly what he did time and time again.
Lakitsky opened the meet with a gold in the Class AA 100 meters and by the time he was finished had earned two more individual firsts.
Teammate Eric Hertzog will keep Lakitsky company next weekend at the PIAA State Track and Field Championships as he earned a golden ticket with a win in the 110 high hurdles.
Pleasant Valley's Keegan Bray will join the duo at Shippensburg University as the Bears' sprinter placed second in the Class AAA 200 meters..
It was Lakitsky who stole the show, however, and made his critics eat their words.
After winning two out of his three individual events at the Schuylkill League championships, the senior scored one better at Districts by recording a hat-trick.
He also upped his number of State events. Last season, he competed in the only the 100-meter dash and the long jump. This year, Lakitsky will be fairly busy as he This year, Lakitsky will be fairly busy as he adds the 200-meter dash to his State agenda.
"I'm extremely happy," Lakitsky said. "It's a terrific way to go out as a senior making a trip to States. My whole family is proud of me and of course I'm proud of myself. I wouldn't want to change a thing. I'm left speechless."
As impressive as Lakitsky's day was, it wasn't quite perfect. One miscue spoiled his chance of winning gold in all four of his events.
"I'm disappointed for my other runners. I know they wanted it so bad," said Lakitsky after the Raiders' 400 meter relay team, which entered with a state qualifying time and a second seed, was disqualified. "It's heartbreaking knowing that it happened between my hand off to Eric Hertzog.
"It's like I feel so bad for them, but there's nothing I can do about it now. We realized what happened. It's over. They just have to prepare for next year now."
Herzog also experienced success prior to the relay disqualification.
He took some advice from head coach Tom Kanger and the Blue Raiders' coaching staff that helped him settle in prior to winning one of the day's first events the 100 high hurdles.
"During the warm-ups, my coaches told me to just concentrate on my race and do my best," Hertzog said. "They said not to worry about what the other kids are doing and just try my hardest. So, I went out and did my best and it paid off in the end."
Bray may not have earned gold like Tamaqua's state qualifiers, but he was thrilled with his performance and his state qualifying finish.
"I'm more than happy with a silver medal," Bray said. "There was a lot of good competition here today. I wasn't sure of how well I was going to do and I didn't expect to do as good as I did.
"But, I was definitely aiming for something high and I got it."
Lakitsky, Hertzog and Bray will now prepare themselves for high school track's main event next weekend at "Shipp."
While the local trio are the lone individuals adding another day or two to their track and field season, five other individuals and two relay teams capped their season with a medal on Thursday.
Palmerton junior Monty Szukics (200M), Northern Lehigh sophomore Caleb Johnson (400M) and Tamaqua freshman Tyler Hope (javelin) all earned silver medals.
Jim Thorpe's Ben Moore (javelin), the Palmerton 400 meter relay and the Marian 1600 relay teams all earned bronze.