Raiders' Streisel leads way
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe's PJ Johnson lands his long jump during the Schuylkill League Championships on Wednesday. Johnson broke a 27-year old league record in the event with a leap of 22-9 .
ORWIGSBURG - This year's Schuylkill League Individual Track and Field Championships had a little bit of everything.
Broken records. Personal bests. Thrilling comebacks. Dominating finishes.
When all was said and done yesterday at Blue Mountain High School, TIMES NEWS area athletes put on quite a show, as they walked away with 28 medals, including nine golds.
Tamaqua led the local contingent by taking home 13 medals (four gold, seven silver, two bronze).
For Christine Streisel, it was business as usual, as the Tamaqua junior won two individual events and took part on a winning relay team.
Streisel easily claimed gold in the Virgil Scott Memorial Javelin with a toss of 150-10, which marks the sixth consecutive year a Tamaqua girl has won the javelin competition at the Schuylkill League meet. Casey Wagner (South Florida) captured gold in 2007 and 2008. Allison Updike (Georgia) won the event in 2009 and 2010. Christine has won the event the past two years.
In addition, Streisel claimed the shot put crown with a heave of 37-4 1/2, and teamed with Caitlin Trainer, Kayla Hope and twin sister Maria Streisel to defend the Lady Raiders' 400-meter relay championship with a time of 51.25.
Streisel also added a fourth-place ribbon in the discus.
"I came in here today hoping to be on top in as many events as possible, so obviously winning three gold medals is very exciting," lauded Streisel. "I'm pretty excited about the ribbon too because I never really know what to expect in the discus."
Also adding a gold medal to his collection was Tamaqua's Eric Hertzog, who captured the 110 high hurdles for the second year in a row. The Tamaqua senior posted a season-best time of 14.65.
"I didn't do as well as I would have liked in the 300 (intermediate hurdles) earlier in the day, but I didn't let that get to me," said Hertzog. "I refocused and just went out and ran my race."
While Hertzog was the lone Tamaqua boy to win a medal, the Lady Raiders came away with plenty of hardware. Cecily Kohlmeir (200, 400) and Kelsey Patrick (800, 1600) claimed two silver medals apiece. Amber Carroll placed second in the 3200, Maria Streisel finished second in the long jump, and Rebecca Minehan added a bronze medal in the pole vault.
Kayla Hope, the story of last year's Schuylkill League meet with three golds and a silver, was burdened by shin splints and was unable to perform to her normal standards.
Despite the injury, Hope returned to the track for the first time in two weeks and added a second-place finish in the 100 and a third-place finish in the long jump, in addition to her gold medal in the 400-meter relay.
Hope also qualified for the finals of the 200, but removed herself before the race.
"It was tough out there today, but I knew I needed to try to push through" noted Hope. "This is my first meet back and the first time I've actually done anything in about two weeks."
"I really killed my shins when I was doing my jumps and that's kind of when I knew I wouldn't be able to go in the 200. It's my favorite race and I love running it, so I was really bummed when I knew I wouldn't be able to compete in it."
Jim Thorpe also had a banner day with eight medals. Four of those eight medals were golds, and three resulted in record-breaking performances.
Perhaps the biggest eye-opener occurred early in the meet when P.J. Johnson captured first place in the Walt Ligenza Memorial Long Jump. It certainly wasn't a surprise that Johnson, who was seeded first at 21-8, won the event; however, it was how he won it that had people talking.
After Blue Mountain's Kyle Laughlin jumped 22-3, Johnson responded on the very next attempt by soaring 22-9 .
Johnson's jump set a Schuylkill League Meet Record, eclipsing the previous mark of Mount Carmel's Mike Diminick that was set in 1985.
"Seeing Kyle jump 22-feet right before me really motivated me," said Johnson. "Last time, he beat me in the Mount Carmel Invitational on his last jump, so that stuck in my mind the whole time. Once I saw what he jumped, I knew what I had to do."
Four of Johnson's six attempts bettered his previous school record of 21-8. He also claimed a bronze medal in the 100.
"PJ's first goal was to get the school record and he got that. Then he set his sights on the State qualifying mark of 21-6 and he got that. After that, he just kind of got into a mentality of jumping to win the meet," stated Olympians head coach Frank Miller. "It was nice to see him come back and beat Kyle since he lost to him at Mount Carmel and it was even nicer to see him jump 22-feet for the first time in his life."
Jim Thorpe's 1600-meter relay team of Catherine Condly, Amber Castillo, Anjelica Poalillo and Kayla Susko also shattered a school record with a winning time of 4:13.98, which was more than seven seconds better than their previous best time of 4:21.00.
Jim Thorpe entered the event seeded third. After falling behind early, Poalillo took the lead (from Blue Mountain) halfway through the third leg and Susko anchored the victory.
Susko also claimed an individual gold in the 400, setting a new school record with a time of 1:01.16.
"The 400 was my first race today, so I knew when I got out there, I was going to push myself and do everything I could to win," added Susko. "I'm so happy. I would have loved to have run a sub-one minute out there today, but that just gives me something extra to shoot for next week at Districts."
Joining Susko and Johnson with gold medals was Jim Thorpe senior Ben Moore.
Moore copped the Virgil Scott Memorial Javelin with a toss of 174-8. Moore was seeded first in the event and had the top three throws in the competition.
"It feels good. I'm trying to stay consistent because I want to get up near the 176 mark for Districts next week so I can get an automatic qualification into States," said Moore. "I just have to keep working hard because it's all a mental game out there."
Catherine Condly earned a silver medal for the Olympians in the javelin, while Anjelica Poalillo (200) and Sean Mendez (pole vault) took home bronze medals.
The final gold medal for TIMES NEWS area teams came in the last event of the night when the Marian boys 1600-meter relay team obliterated the competition with a time of 3:28.05.
The team of John Julian, Nico Agosti, Paul Martin and Matt Grega led from start to finish and came in seeded first with a time of 3:32.11.
In addition to their relay win, Grega (silver) and Agosti (bronze) placed in the 400, Martin finished third in the 200 and Julian captured third-place in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
Rounding out the local medal winners was Marian's Alexandria Hutta (bronze in the 300 intermediate hurdles) and Panther Valley's Nate Mathewson (bronze in the triple jump).
Note - See page 15 for results.