Wood surprises; Pereira wins 3
nancy scholz/times news Palmerton's Jess Pereira (right) crosses the finish line first in the 100 meters. Northwestern's Lauren Anderson (center) finished second and the Bombers' Brianna Doherty (left) was fifth.
WHITEHALL While everybody at Wednesday's Colonial League Track and Field championships had to wait out a three and a half hour weather delay, for Palmerton's Jocelyn Wood it was well worth it.
The sophomore, seeded fifth in the 800, ran a personal best and took advantage of some unforseen circumstances to capture the event's gold medal.
And while winning was special for the Blue Bomber, it was why she ran that made the victory more meaningful.
"My fifth-grade teacher just passed away, so I wanted to dedicate this race to him," said Wood, who won in a time of 2:24.39. "I kicked it in, gave it all my heart, and pushed it to the finish line. He passed away suddenly (Tuesday) night and I wanted to dedicate this race to him."
Wood's gold was one of 11 gained by TIMES NEWS area athletes on Day 2 of the championships. Palmerton senior speedster Jess Pereira accounted for three of them while teammate Lauryn Solt and Northern Lehigh standout Caleb Johnson each added two. But the one by Wood may have been the most memorable.
"He was very influential to me," she said about Blaine House, who taught her at Towamensing Elementary School. "Everything was crazy with the weather, but it was absolutely worth the wait."
Because of lightning, the meet was delayed at the end of the 400 relay and right before the start of the 800. While it rained briefly, lightning continued in the area, keeping the competition on hold. From 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. no events were held.
When action finally resumed, Wood stepped to the starting line. The top seed, Saucon Valley's Liz Chikotas, didn't race in the event while Southern Lehigh's Isamarie Ramos seemed to come up lame down the stretch. That opened the door for Wood, who used a strong kick to pull away for the victory.
"You kept hearing 30 more minutes until we start, 30 more minutes," said Wood. "When they finally said, we're ready to go and first call for the 800 I came out and did a couple warm-up laps and got myself mentally prepared for the race. I had to get focused and run my race."
Pereira was more than focused in her final Colonial League meet.
After capturing the 100 and 400 before the weather delay, she came back hours later to claim the 200.
"This was definitely a tough race," said Periera of the 200. "After not running for so long I really didn't know what to expect, but I still pushed it and gave it my all. I was a little tight. With it being colder and late, and sitting for three hours, and then all of a sudden you have to run again it's kind of difficult.
"(In the 100) my start felt a little slow compared to how I usually get out, but I recovered pretty quickly so that was a plus. At 20-30 meters I felt like I was getting a lead and I just kicked it in from there. (In the 400) I felt pretty strong coming around the backstretch and I kicked it in a little early because I was getting a bit nervous. Normally I kick it in 25 meters less than I did this time. I normally sprint the last 100 or 125. It was definitely more than that today."
Pereira was one of only two athletes, the other Bangor's Bryan Pearson, to claim three individual golds.
"Yes, this was definitely a successful meet," said Pereira. "Hopefully I can go out next week (at districts) and lower my times even more."
Johnson was able to lower his best time in the 400, winning in 50.13. Following the lengthy delay, he also captured the 200 by pulling away from runner-up Cam Richardson of Northwestern.
"That was a season best and a PR for me," the senior said of his 400 time. "I just paced myself really well off of (Southern Lehigh's) Collin Bergy. He's a great runner so I figured if I could keep up with him for a little bit and maybe try to pass him with what I had left I'd be in good shape.
"My start (in the 200) was slow as usual. It takes a little while for a bigger frame to get going but once I get in stride I'm okay. It wasn't my best start, but after a three-hour break I'm especially happy with it. We had a fun break. We were playing soccer and football. We acted out a scene from Romeo and Juliet. We even had a dance circle at one point.
"For the last Colonial League meet, I'm happy with it. I had a good time if nothing else. A couple medals is always nice too."
Solt didn't have to worry about the weather delay, picking up her medals before the storms approached.
The senior dominated the triple jump, winning by over a foot, and also captured the high jump.
"I was really happy with (my triple jump) since I (jumped a personal best) by six inches," said Solt, who won with a distance of 35-9 1/2. "When I heard the distance, I turned and thought was that right? I knew it would be a 35 but I didn't think it would be on the higher end. I kind of figured it would hold up because everybody was seeded below a 34. I knew if I went over 35 I should finish first.
"I kind of figured (in the high jump) it would come down to who made 5-2 first. I was able to make it on my first attempt."
Palmerton's Austin Shupp also ran a personal best in winning the 110 hurdles, and set a new school record in doing so.
The junior edged top-seeded Caleb Johnson with a time of 15.17.
"My coach (Bethany Rowland) gave me a pep talk before I ran," said Shupp. "She said just come out strong, and break the plane with my lead leg fast and if I did I'd get another gold medal.
"It was nice to beat Caleb. He's such a good athlete and person. I felt like it was a close race the whole time. By about the eighth hurdle I felt like I could get it."
Northwestern added relay wins, as the girls took the 1600 and the boys sprinted to the 400 title.
Besides Richardson in the 200 and Johnson in the 110 hurdles, second-place finishes went to the Tigers' Haley Yost (1600) and Lauren Anderson (200) as well as Northern Lehigh's Jess Olewine (triple jump).