Slavin, Fredericks, Mitchell all golden
Palmerton's Chris Fredericks won the Class 2A javelin at the District 11 Track and Field Championships on Tuesday. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Tamaqua's Adam Melnick runs a leg of the 3200 meter relay. The Raider boys qualified for states in the Class 2A event. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - For Seth Slavin, it was a dream.
For Chris Fredericks, it was surreal.
And for Mike Mitchell, it was a chance to prove he's one of the best.
The first day of the District 11 Championships offered something a little different for everyone.
Slavin captured his first district title. The Pleasant Valley senior cruised to a win in the Class 3A 3200, crossing the line in 9:25.63.
One week after setting a school record at the Colonial League championships, Palmerton's Fredericks did it again Tuesday at Blue Mountain High School, winning the 2A javelin with a heave of 184-8.
And after a third-place finish at last week's Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championships, Mitchell found the distance he needed in the 3A triple jump, as the Bears' senior soared to a win with a leap of 47-2.
Those performances highlighted a strong start for Times News area athletes, one that finished with two relay teams and six individuals in the boys' competition to advance to next week's PIAA Championships.
"It means so much," said Slavin. "I've been in this race since I was a freshman and finally to come out on top, it's been a dream come true just racing here today."
Slavin, a runner-up in the event a year ago, pulled away from Southern Lehigh's Colin Cramer (9:33.54) to secure the win by a wide margin.
"I knew what I had the ability to do coming in, everything just needed to play out," said Slavin. "And we prepared through our races and training throughout the year."
Slavin started the day anchoring the team of Luke Valdevit, who was celebrating his birthday, Jonathan Mickens and Gabe Sullivan to a second-place finish (8:11.09) in the 3200 relay, a run that secured the quartet a spot at the state meet.
"Just based off the way I feel, the way Jonny ran the second leg and for Luke to just get out there and go as hard as he could … I'd say just the way that we ran, I would say it could be the way that we ran," said Sullivan.
"Last year, I went alone, and the whole time I was there, all I wanted were some teammates, some distance teammates," added Slavin. "Now that we're actually going to be able to go together, it's going to be a much better experience, being there, and sharing it with one another."
Mitchell, who qualified for states in the long jump last year and the triple jump as a sophomore, turned in a stellar performance to win the event Tuesday.
"It feels good being district champion," said Mitchell. "This is my first district championship, so I'm feeling pretty excited about it. It's a great experience."
Mitchell knew he had great competition with Stroudsburg's Shaquille Mitchell (46-09.00) and Isaiah Wiggins (45-08.00) behind him.
But the senior found a little bit more than his rivals to claim the title.
"To be honest. I was a little bit worried when I saw Shaq do his last jump and get those claps going," said Mike Mitchell. "I thought he was going to pull out something crazy. But luckily he fouled.
"But it was pretty good competition. We were all blessed today and we did pretty good, so I'm feeling pretty good about that."
After a record-setting performance at last week's Colonial League meet, Fredericks continued to impress Tuesday, winning big over Shenandoah Valley's Zach Link (165-09).
Despite all of his success, Fredericks was unsure of how he would perform at the district meet.
"It's a really awesome feeling," Fredericks said. "This year, I really didn't expect to do too much. I was only expecting like 155-feet. But last week, I hit 177-feet, this week I jumped up to 184-feet. It's just a lot of hard work … it just means a lot to go to states as a sophomore. It's such a good feeling.
"I definitely wanted to hit 180-feet today. I thought it was an attainable goal. I didn't know if it was going to happen for sure or not. But I had a nice throw on my first one, bumped it up a little bit (on my second throw), then my third throw was the 184. I hit a nice block, and the javelin just flew. It did the rest."
It's a feeling that was indescribable for Fredericks.
"Right when you throw it, it doesn't feel like anything honestly," he said. "It doesn't hit you until you see it land and where it does. That's really it. You don't feel anything."
Palmerton's Mike Stasko will join Fredericks in Shippensburg. Stasko qualified for states in the Class 2A 300 hurdles with a second-place finish (41.13), just behind Pen Argyl's Eric Lobb (41.11).
"It was definitely my cleanest race of the three," said Stasko, who was only competed in the event three times this season. "I thought I might have had him (Lobb), but that last hurdle, I clipped it and I knew he had me then because I stopped my momentum.
"But I PR'd by over a second again from last week. It was crazy. But it was an exciting race."
Northwestern's Trevor Cunningham advanced to the state meet with a second-place finish in the Class 3A 300 hurdles, crossing the line in 39.51.
"It's awesome, I'm very excited for it," said Cunningham. "As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I was going. I got second, but I also heard my coach scream excitedly because I got it. It's a great feeling."
With a throw of 140-07 and a second-place finish, Northern Lehigh's Jackie Ni qualified for states in the Class 2A discus.
"The throw, I felt like I could have done better," said Ni, "but going to states, I'm very happy about that. I feel like that's an accomplishment all by itself."
The Tamaqua team of Raymond Kinder, Brad Clemson, Adam Melnick and Derian Stianche placed second in the Class 2A 3200 relay with a time of 8:26.81 to move on to states.
The Blue Raiders entered the event, but were still more than happy with their result - and the opportunity to compete at states.
"I'm impressed," said Clemson. "It might not have been our best time, but at the beginning of the year, I don't think any of us would have thought we would be this good. It was awesome to see our progression."
Jim Thorpe's Jonathon Fikentscher (47-5.5) placed third in the Class 3A shot put. Though he didn't qualify for states, the senior hopes the Olympians' underclassmen can carry on a strong tradition in the throwing events.
"I really hope that Bill Munson carries it on," Fikentscher said of the Jim Thorpe sophomore. "I hope he breaks 50- (feet) and can go to states and do something that I wish I could do."