Shupp, Hope pick up District championships
bob ford/times news Palmerton's Darris Rodrigues clears the bar in the Class AA pole vault on his way to a second place finish.
ORWIGSBURG For a brief moment, Palmerton's Austin Shupp thought the worst.
After tangling with a hurdle on the turn of Wednesday's District 11 Class AA 300 meter hurdling event, the top-seeded Blue Bomber feared there might be a disqualification coming his way.
Fortunately for the junior, that disqualification never came.
Shupp rebounded from his mishap and held off his closest competition to earn a gold medal, record a personal best and qualify for states.
"That one (hurdle) on the turn I really hit it hard," said Shupp, who crossed the finish line in 39.29. "It flipped over, I guess. I really thought I was going to get DQ'd when I hit it. I just felt really bad. I finished the race and turned around and there were people in my lane, so I was really thinking about it (being DQ'd). But they didn't, so I was happy.
Shupp was one of two TIMES NEWS area boys to earn gold on the first day of districts. Tamaqua's Tyler Hope also captured first in the AAA javelin.
Five others gained runner-up honors to earn a trip to next weekend's PIAA meet in Shippensburg. They include Palmerton's Brad Ehret (high jump), Jarred Sacks (triple jump) and Darris Rodrigues (pole vault) and Northwestern's Tyler Stelmack (3200) and Alex Partington (discus).
"It feels really good being the top qualifier out of District 11," said Shupp. "I was shooting for first. To prepare for the 300 hurdles, my coach makes us run the 400 hurdles at practice. I definitely feel like that helps a lot. Every time we did it, it brought my time down.
"I'm happy with my time. I wanted to break into the 38s but I'll take 39.29. My next goal is to make the state finals. To do that I'll probably have to get in the 38s."
Hope nearly didn't have a chance to make the state finals again.
The Raider junior, who won a PIAA silver a year ago, was sitting in fourth place with just two throws remaining.
"There's a lot of pressure on you because I hadn't hit the qualifying mark in my throws before it," said Hope, who got off a toss of 184-5 to claim the event. "I just pushed myself to do my best so I could hit the standard to go to states.
"When I was going down the runway I was focused on trying to stay relaxed. I just let it go and trusted myself. I was pretty happy when I heard (the distance). It put me back into first. I didn't have to be as worried on my last throw."
Hope has been battling a banged-up hip since competing at the Penn Relays. He didn't even compete in his top event at last week's Schuylkill League meet.
"I'm a little banged up and have some wear and tear, but I'm fine. I've been nursing it and it's just about back to normal. It's bothering me a little bit today but I just blocked it out of my head and tried not to focus on it when I threw.
"I have a lot of work to do with drills and just preparing myself for the state meet. When I finally hit the standard I was happy because I wanted the opportunity to go and throw with the best in the state."
The Tigers' Partington will also have a chance to throw with the best in the state, having placed second in the AA discus.
The junior was hoping for a gold medal, but came up short to Mahanoy Area's Tyler Cavenas.
"I was expecting a first," said Partington, whose 141-1 trailed only the 149-9 by Cavenas. "According to the seeds, I was first by 10 feet. It didn't play out that way, though, but I had fun today and that's all that matters.
"This was my first big meet so I'm glad with the results. Our school record holder gave me a lot of tips that increased my throwing distance. I also talked to Bryan Pearson from Bangor and got a lot of tips from him too. I think both of them really helped me."
While Partington was shooting for first, his teammate Tyler Stelmack didn't entertain any thoughts of crossing the line first in the 3200.
Running against North Schuylkill's Brendan Shearn, who would shatter the district record with a time of 9:17.31, the Tiger senior was just hoping to capture second.
"That was my goal, to get second, and I'm happy I got that and can make my second trip out to states," said Stelmack. "I don't know how he (Shearn) does it. He's a monster out there. I just work my hardest out there so giving it my all is all I can ask for.
"I knew I needed to go out strong and stay strong. Kyle Gonoude (of Salisbury) was seeded one ahead of me and he beat me at leagues the week before so I knew he'd be out here giving me a run for my money. He must have dropped back at some point along the race. (States) will be such a great experience again. That level of competition is just so much fun and to end my track career out there is remarkable."
Gonoude actually pulled out of the race, allowing Stelmack's 10:08.83 to claim the silver.
Like Stelmack, Palmerton's Sacks was pretty much conceding the top spot in the AA triple jump.
Salisbury's Daniel Reichenbach was easily the favorite in the event and proved it by posting a 46-11 . Sacks, meanwhile, needed a quality jump in his last attempt to overtake Notre Dame's Dan Stola for second place.
"I got it in my last jump," said Sacks, who put up a 44-5 . "Dan had me going into the last jump of the finals and he pretty much pushed me over the edge to get second.
"Getting second was my goal. I'm coming off a groin injury and hadn't really practiced all week. I took it easy all week, but it feels great now."
Rodrigues was also feeling great after his last attempt in the pole vault.
The Palmerton junior, who didn't medal at the league meet, set a PR by clearing 13-0 in his final try.
"I'm pretty excited," said Roridgues. "This will be my first year going to states. The Colonial League meet was kind of just to get a medal, but districts is where it all counts. Districts qualifies you for states. I knew I had to do better at districts.
"I actually got really lucky. My run was off and when I cleared it, it rolled off my stomach and stayed on there by a hair. I have to be honest, usually when I think on the runway I know I'm going to do bad but for some reason I was supposed to get that I guess. I don't know how but I did."
Other area medalists on the day included Palmerton's John Snyder (fourth in AA shot put) and Gerald Pereira (fourth in AA triple jump), Northern Lehigh's Caleb Johnson (third in AA high jump), Marian's John Julian (fourth in AA 300 hurdles), and the Pleasant Valley 3200 relay team.