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Walters breaks D-11 record

WHITEHALL - Nataly Walters saved her best for last.

But everything before that was pretty good, too.

The Palmerton sophomore continued her record-setting season on Tuesday at the District 11 Track and Field Championships.

Walters won the Class 2A long jump with a mark of 18-10.5, establishing a meet record and breaking the mark previously held by Palmerton’s Debbie Rodrigues (18-10.25), which was set in 1976.

It was the longest-standing girls record in either Class 2A or 3A.

“Over winter and all over summer I trained really really hard,” said Walters. “I worked out constantly, working on form technique, weight lifting, speed, everything. Now, it’s finally paying off. At these big meets, I’m getting these big numbers and breaking these records that I have stood forever. Now that I can finally see the results coming in, I’m just really proud of myself and I know my parents are too, which really makes me happy that I’m finally proving that I can do this, my hard work is paying off.”

The triumph highlighted a day that saw three area girls earn Class 2A gold, with Jim Thorpe’s Celia Rodriguez Gonzalez winning the 3200 and Marian’s Fatikha Tikhtova soaring to the high jump title.

One Bomber to another

A week after setting the Colonial League record in the triple jump, Walters hit her best jump on her final attempt Tuesday.

“Normally, I hit that big mark on my first or second jump,” she said. “But this was my last jump. Last in finals, too. So it was after the 200. After the other five jumps that I did. So I wasn’t doubting myself. But I was kind of like, ‘This is all I got. It’s do it or don’t do it.’ And I just told myself I was going to do it. I was going to run as fast as I could, hit the board hard, and if I don’t get it, I’m still going to be proud of myself. But I had it in my mind that I wanted to hit this ... So I’m just glad it worked out the way it did, and I’m happy that it all worked out in the end.”

The top seed with a mark of 19-1.5, Walters locked in to hit the record.

“I had 18-8 and before that I had 18-7. So it was kind of slowly going up, slowly going up,” she said. “My first jump was not the best. I had I think 17-10, which is not a bad jump, it was still state qualifying, so that kind of lifted a little bit off my chest. I knew I made it and didn’t have to worry about not going to states.

“I went over to my coach and asked what I could do better? Get more lift. So I went back, I sprinted as fast as I could, got more lift and I think I had an 18-5 or 18-7. And then in my last jump, I ran the 200, then got back and it was finals so I got a little bit of rest, drank some water, got out there, did my final jumps, which I’m happy with.”

A fierce competitor, Walters is hard to beat when she has her sights set on something.

“I kind of begin this tunnel vision right in my warmups,” said Walters. “I start off with some broad jumps into the pit, and that’s really, ‘It’s go time, you’re about to jump, you need to focus, you need to focus on technique, what you’re about to do.’ So I start with my broad jumps, I focus on my landing, my takeoff and then I do some short approaches and I’m really focused in that time.

“Once finals started, I was kind of back in that tunnel vision. It’s me and the runway and the board. I run I run I run and I jump. That’s all I do. Run and jump. To have that tunnel vision and that amount of focus, it kind of takes a toll on you, because it’s not just all about the physical presentation of the jump. You have to be in the right headspace, and have the mental ability as much as the physical ability.”

Walters advanced to the finals in the 100 and 200, and is also the top seed in today’s triple jump.

“So going into tomorrow, with triple jump, I’m going to come in with confidence,” she said. “I know I can do it. I just have to be on my ‘A-game.’”

Going the distance

Rodriguez Gonzalez won the 3200 with a personal best time of 12:02.62.

“I don’t really know. I feel like in every race you should try to do your best,” she said. “If it’s a district championship, it’s really special and amazing, and I’m so happy. I got a PR, that’s what I think when I saw the time. So I’m really also happy for that.

“It is so special. I’m really happy about it all because being part of our relay it’s really fun and knowing that we are all going. I have my own race, but at the same time I’m so excited to be racing with my friends and with my teammates. It’s really cool.”

The junior was seeded first with a time of 12:06.52.

“I feel like at the beginning of the season, I started with a time around 12:40 something,” she said. “I’m from Spain, so I don’t really race the two mile, I race the 3000 meters. So it was like a new event, kind of. It wasn’t a bad time, it was actually pretty good. At one of the invites I got my last PR, which I just broke. It was really surprising, because I dropped 30 seconds in one meet. I feel like that was with the training and with the help of all my coaches and teammates, making practice really exciting and fun.”

Rodriguez Gonzalez came to Jim Thorpe in September and will be leaving in June when her time in an exchange student program will be over.

“It’s kind of sad, but it’s been a really fun trip,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m happy for all the stuff me and my team have accomplished together.”

Jim Thorpe’s 3200 relay advanced to states with a second place finish in the 3200 relay with a time of 9:57.96. The team of Rodriguez Gonzalez, Aubrey Bonner, Gabby Cinicola and Nicole Carroll placed second to Notre Dame Green Pond (9:47.84).

Northern Lehigh (10:00.39) finished third, followed by Palmerton (10:18.09).

“Honestly, no,” Rodriguez Gonzalez said of her expectations for the season. “It was so exciting. I didn’t know I would get this far in the season. I feel like it’s a lot of training. I kind of want to see what my times next year will be like so I can compare it with my times last year to see how much improvement there was.

“I like making friends. You get so many friends from sports. I feel like that with any sport it should be fun so that’s what I like the most. I’m so happy. I’m really excited.”

Taking flight

Tikhtova won the high jump, clearing 5-6.

The senior cleared 5-2, 5-4 and 5-6 on her final attempt.

“So I was cutting it close,” she said with a smile. “It really kept me on my toes. But I made it. I was worried, but I knew I could get it, because I was the top seed, so I just had to remind myself, ‘I’m already there, I just need to prove it.’”

She was unable to compete at districts last season due to transfer rules after putting together a tremendous junior year.

“It feels great to be recognized for my hard work because I’ve been doing high jump since 7th grade, and I’ve been trying to get better and better each year,” she said. “And I think it’s paying off.

“I think it’s fun. I guess I could say I’m good at it, so it just makes me want to do it more.”

Tikhtova has been on form this season and was seeded first with a height of 5-7.

“Obviously, I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to get this far,” said Tikhtova. “But personally, I think I can do even better so I’m hoping for states to maybe get past 5-8. My goal has been 5-9 all season so hopefully I can get that. My PR is 5-7, so I tried 5-8, I couldn’t get it, but maybe next time.”

Northwestern’s Faith Yost (5-4), who was third, and Palmerton’s Emma Rex (5-2), who was fourth and Palmerton’s Emma Snyder (5-2) and Northern Lehigh’s Zoe Hathaway (5-2), who were fifth and sixth, also advanced to states after hitting the state qualifying standard.

Trip to Ship

Yost also advanced to states in the long, jumping 17-8.25 and finishing second.

Northern Lehigh’s Caitlin Kirk qualified for states with a runner-up finish in the 2A discus with a throw of 106-07.

Marian’s Carly Minchhoff was second in the 2A javelin with a throw of 120-07 to advance to states.

Palmerton advanced to states in the 3200 relay with a second place finish with a school record time of 8:13.03. The team of Dylan Hartranft, Jordan Mann, Connor Hibell and Owen Hibell finished second to NDGP (8:11.84).

Northern Lehigh’s Nick Frame advanced to states in the javelin with a second place finish with a throw of 169-0, while Marian’s Jesse Rodino (141-04) finished second in the discus to advance to states,

Northwestern’s Gavin Nelson advanced to states in the high jump, placing second with a leap of 6-3, while teammate Matthew Santana (9:50.30) placed second in the 3200 to advance to states.

Palmerton’s Bryson Walters (40.83) advanced to states with a second place finish in the 300 hurdles.

In Class 3A, Pleasant Valley’s Reese Ruggiero cleared a personal best 11-3 to place second in the pole vault and advance to states.

“I PR’d today so that was fun,” she said. “I’m glad I get another chance to PR at states and I’m happy with my height, happy I made it to states. It was a goal of mine this season. So overall happy.”

Her previous best was 11-0.

“I started the season at 9-10, so it’s been a good progression,” said Ruggiero. “I go to Philly Jumps Club and my coach there Sam Young, he’s really helped me progress and the other coaches there too.

“At states, I want to do good personally, get some rest in and see how it goes.”

Moving on

Jim Thorpe’s Kaila O’Connor (12.12), Palmerton’s Nataly Walters (12.56) and Erin Gombert (12.70), Carsyn Van Norman (12.83) and Kaia Grantham (13.16) all qualified for the 100 finals. O’Connor ran the fastest time ahead of Pine Grove’s Viktoria Luckenbach (12.16).

O’Connor (26.92), Walters (25.72), Gombert (26.44) Van Norman (26.94) and Grantham (27.34) also advanced to the 200 finals.

Northwestern’s Faith Yost (15.55) advanced to the finals in the 100 hurdles with the fastest time. Northern Lehigh’s Evelina Mayak (16.22) had the second fastest time. Jim Thorpe’s Aurora VanAuken (17.11), Northwestern’s Katie Brensinger (17.45) and Northern Lehigh’s Dekota Barthold (17.58) also advanced to the finals.

Jim Thorpe’s Zeeshan Issifu (11.49) advanced to the 100 finals.

Palmerton’s Bryson Walters (15.27), Justin Herrmann (15.76) and Emilio Gonzalez (15.84) advanced to the 110 hurdle finals. as did Northwestern’s Shane Leh (16.39).

Jim Thorpe’s Andrew Coolbaugh (23.50) advanced to the 200 finals.

In Class 3A, Tamaqua’s Katelynn Fredericks advanced to the 100 hurdle finals with a time of 16.71.

Pleasant Valley’s Patrick Moore (11.12) ans Jarael Moore (11.12) advanced to the 100 finals.

Tough race

In the 300 hurdles, O’Connor was disqualified for interference after falling and knocking her hurdle into another lane heading into the first turn after about 100 meters, which went into Pen Argyl’s Ellianna Wallbillich, who also fell and did not finish the race. O’Connor, who was the top seed by over four seconds, got up and finished the race, crossing the line in first but was later disqualified. Notre Dame Green Pond’s Savina Steele, who was second, was originally declared the winner with a time of 49.63, with Northwestern’s Katie Brensinger second (50.50).

But Wallbillich, who was the second seed, was able to re-run the race by herself after about 30 minutes had passed, finishing with a winning time of 48.06 and advancing to states, a result that relegated Steele to second and Brensinger to third, and out of a state qualifying spot.




Allentown Central Catholic (ACC), Bethlehem Catholic (BC), Catasauqua (C), Jim Thorpe (JT), Lincoln Leadership Academy (LLA), Marian Catholic (MC), Minersville (M), Nativity (N), Northwestern (NW), Notre Dame GP (NDGP), Palisades (Pali), Palmerton (Palm), Panther Valley (PV), Pen Argyl (PA), Saucon Valley (SaVy), Shenandoah Valley (ShVy), Weatherly (W)


(Top three and times, and TN athletes in top 10)


- 1. Thomas Smigo (Pali) 9:37.54, 2. Matthew Santana (NW) 9:50.30, 3. Kolin Long (M) 10:03.71, 4. Albin Petschauer (MC) 10:12.13, 5. Connor Hibell (Palm) 10:14.74, 7. Aaron Simpson (Palm) 10:37.31.


- 1. Colm McGroarty (MA) 40.57, 2. Bryson Walters (Palm) 40.83, 3. Joseph Phillips (NDGP) 40.90, 8. Colby Cavanaugh (JT) 43.76, 9. Shane Leh (NW) 44.32.

3200 relay

- 1. Notre Dame GP 8:11.84, 2. Palmerton (Dylan Hartranft, Jordan Mann, Connor Hibell, Owen Hibell) 8:13.03, 4. Jim Thorpe (Ryan Bailor, Ivan Turczeniuk, Dawson Meckes, Ridge Snyder) 8:23.75, 5. Northwestern (Samuel Bower, Greyson Wellings, Sean Kershner, Matthew Santana) 8:36.68, 9. Weatherly (Jacob Parker, Michael Berger, Nathan Tripp, Niko Saldukas) 9:27.03.


- 1. Gian Greggo (PA) 152-3, 2. Jesse Rodino (MC) 141-4, 3. Michael Pascoe (PV) 138-0, 4. Zack Anthony (Palm) 136-7, 5. Ryan Burkett (Palm) 129-2, 6. James Rodino (MC) 128-2, 7. Bryson Heydt (JT) 127-8, 9. William Newton (JT) 123-7, 10. Paul Rutledge (JT) 117-9.


- 1. Jace Hershey (PA) 171-5, 2. Nick Frame (NL) 169-0, 3. Brad Jones (PV) 168-5, 4. Ethan Karpowich (NL) 165-0, 7. Bailey Smith (NL) 139-0, 8. Rowan Melber (JT) 138-4,

Long jump

- 1. Taylor LaBarre (PA) 22-8, 2. Noah Dolbin (N) 22-5, 3. Aidan Rompilla (BC) 22-0.25, 4. Lucas Bottelier (Pali) 22-0.25, 5. Stephen Jones (Palm) 20-10.5, 7. Michael Silliman (MC) 20-5, 9. Kit Kahn (NW) 19-0.75.

High jump

- 1. Michael Kadziela (N) 6-5, 2. Gavin Nelson (NW) 6-3, 3. Nick Frame (NL) 6-1, 5. Jose Ramirez (MC) 5-11, 8. (tie) Ethan Kozlowski (NW), Isaiah Ramos (NL), Josh Steffan (N), Tanner Riefenstahl (SaVy) and Thequoan Sebro (LLA) 5-7.



Bethlehem Catholic (BC), Catasauqua (C), Jim Thorpe (JT), Mahanoy Area (MA), Marian Catholic (MC), Mahanoy Area (MA), Northern Lehigh (NL), Northwestern (NW), North Schuylkill (NS), Notre Dame GP (NDGP), Palisades (Pali), Palmerton (Palm.), Panther Valley (PV), Pen Argyl (PA), Pine Grove (PG), Salisbury (Sali), Shenandoah Valley (SV), Weatherly (W).


(Top three and times, and TN athletes in top 10)


- 1. Celia Rodriguez-Gonzalez (JT) 12:02.62, 2. Alivia Bear (C) 12:08.52, 3. Katherine Koons (NDGP) 12:15.46, 4. Angelina Klein (NW) 12:15.95, 5. Emma Heil (NL) 12:15.97.


- 1. Ellianna Wallbillich (PA) 48.06, 2. Savina Steele (NDGP) 49.63, 3. Katie Brensinger (NW) 50.50, 4. Aurora VanAuken (JT) 50.95, 9. Megan Forwalt (NW) 52.69.

3200 relay

- 1. Notre Dame GP 9:47.84, 2. Jim Thorpe (Celia Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Aubrey Bonner, Gabby Cinicola, Nicole Carroll) 9:57.96, 3. Northern Lehigh (Natalie Moffitt, Emma Heil, Mikayla Gordon, Katelynn Barthold) 10:00.39, 4. Palmerton (Emma Rex, Cora Wentz, Emma Martinez, Natalie Mosier) 10:18.09, 7. Marian Catholic (Emma Ashfield, Abigail Kluck, Isabella Horvat, Ava Fritz) 11:19.14.


- 1. Randi Wood (SV) 116-9, 2. Caitlin Kirk (NL) 106-7, 3. Sadie Fenstermaker (NW) 104-0, 5. Mikayla Yuricheck (PV) 94-8, 6. Mara Levins (JT) 94-1, 9. Katie Brensinger (NW) 90-8, 10. Keona Dyer (NL) 84-10.


- 1. Maria Puglia (NS) 125-8, 2. Carly Minchhoff (MC) 120-7, 3. Mikayla Yuricheck (PV) 116-0, 7. Hanna Gober (NW) 103-7, 9. Kelly Reiner (W) 96-10, 10. Alexandra Diehl (NW) 94-8.

Long jump

- 1. Nataly Walters (Palm) 18-10.5, 2. Faith Yost (NW) 17-8.25, 3. Paige Casterline (Pali) 17-1.5, 5. Kelsey Patton (JT) 16-6.25, 6. Fatikha Tikhtova (MC) 16-2.25, 10. Abby Pomajevich (NW) 15-9.5.

High jump

- 1. Fatikha Tikhtova (MC) 5-6, 2. Paige Casterline (Pali) 5-4, 3. Faith Yost (NW) 5-4, 4. Emma Rex (Palm) 5-2, 5. Emma Snyder (Palm) 5-2, 6. Zoe Hathaway (NL) 5-2, 7. (tie) Norah Silfies (NW) and Calen Michaels (BC) 4-10, 9. (tie) Kelsey Patton (JT) and Alexis Chilinskas (MA) 4-8.



Bangor (B), Blue Mountain (BM), Easton (Eas), Emmaus (Emm), Dieruff (D), Freedom (F), Lehighton (Leh), Liberty (Lib), Nazareth (Naz), Northampton (Nor), Parkland (P), Pocono Mountain East (PME), Pleasant Valley (PV), Southern Lehigh (SL), Stroudsburg (S), Tamaqua (T), Whitehall (Whi), Wilson (Wil)


(Top three and times, and TN athletes in top 10)


- 1. Paul Abelin (Park) 9:39.41, 2. Ethan Willard (Park) 9:41.74, 3. Adam Kollgaard (Naz) 9:47.34.

3200 relay

- 1. Nazareth 8:02.46, 2. Parkland 8:03.01, 3. Liberty 8:09.16, 6. Tamaqua (Stephen Kieffer, Adam Schock, Jacob Hehn, Jesse Gormley) 8:35.56.

Shot put

- 1. Odin Ferency (Eas) 54-7.75, 2. Dylan Krugh (B) 52-2, 3. Xion Chapman (D) 50-8.5,

Triple jump

- 1. Kevin Polonia (S) 46-3, 2. Kyle Moore (Emm) 45-11, 3. Brooks Britt (F) 45-3, 6. Martin Griffin (T) 43-5.75.

Pole vault

- 1. Andrew Brinker (S) 14-9, 2. Tyler Grabinski (Emm) 13-9, 3. Andrew Szeplaki (Nor) 13-3, 8. Jason Cameron (PV) 11-9.



Allentown Central Catholic (ACC), Bangor (B), Blue Mountain (BM), Easton (Eas), East Stroudsburg South (ESS), Emmaus (Emm), Lehighton (Leh), Liberty (Lib), Nazareth (Naz), Northampton (Nor), Parkland (Park), Pleasant Valley (PV), Pocono Mountain West (PMW), Pottsville (Potts), Southern Lehigh (SL), Stroudsburg (S), Whitehall (Whi), Wilson (Wil).

RESULTS (Top three and times, and TN athletes in top 10)


- 1. Hailey Reinhard (Emm) 11:07.34, 2. Madelyn McCartney (Emm) 11:20.26, 3. Avery Errico (Wil) 11:27.73.

3200 relay

- 1. Parkland 9:39.28, 2. Easton 9:49.54, 3. Southern Lehigh 9:59.41.


- 1. Maggie Scalzo (Eas) 44.60, 2. Faith Schiffer (SL) 47.15, 3. Alexa Giuffre (Potts) 48.85.

Shot put

- 1. Rosalind Gergely (BM) 38-11, 2. Celis Miranda (ESS) 35-7.25, 3. Sydnei Jones Proctor (Lib) 33-2.75, 8. Madylin Wolter (Leh) 30-11.75, 9. Lorah Thomas (Leh) 30-11.75.

Triple jump

- 1. Danika Bolinsky (BM) 37-5, 2. Catherine Crampton (Park) 36-5, 3. Naomee Adisa (Naz) 36-3.5.

Pole vault

- 1. Annika Flanigan (Lib) 11-6, 2. Reese Ruggiero (PV) 11-3, 3. Danielle Jordan (Naz), 9-6, 10. (tie) Isabella Mystkowski (Leh), Genie Gilbride (PMW) and Olivia Hayes (Nor) 8-6.