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Bombers’ Walters 2nd in triple jump

SHIPPENSBURG - Nataly Walters has made an incredible impact, and left an indelible impression on the track and field world in just three years.

The lore of the Palmerton junior’s legacy grew this past weekend at the PIAA Championships, where Walters added three more medals - including her third state title.

Few compete harder - and not many expect more - than Walters.

Her performance Saturday showcased the skill and spirit that have made Walters a champion, as she claimed a runner-up finish in the triple jump and a sixth-place medal in the 400 relay.

Four individuals and three relay teams medaled in Class 2A on the second day of the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University.

Palmerton had a total of three individuals and two relay teams medal Saturday. Bryson Walters and Matt Machalik both collected individual hardware and helped the boys 400 relay team land on the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Northern Lehigh’s Katelynn Barthold capped a stellar junior season with a seventh-place finish in the 800, while the Northwestern girls concluded a record-breaking campaign with an eighth-place finish in the 400 relay.

More medals

Walters won the triple jump a year ago, and captured her second straight state title in the long jump Friday.

She owns the all-time area best in the triple jump at 39-8, and put on a tremendous display to place second in the event Saturday with a leap of 39-7 1/4, easily her best of the season.

Grove City sophomore Milena Sciullo claimed the title with a mark of 40-3, which she posted on her second attempt after a 37-3 on her first jump.

Walters hit her best mark on her third jump, and cleared 39-feet again on her next attempt at 39-0 1/2.

She fouled on her first jump and her fifth overall.

“I felt fine actually after I fouled because it was a really good jump,” said Walters. “To me, looking down at it, it looked like a 40-foot jump, along with the crowd saying, ‘Wow.’ It was a big jump that I fouled, and then second time I fouled it was also a really big jump. I think just those two jumps I had a lot of adrenaline, so it was just a hair over the board, and a little bit over the board means a lot that could go to waste.

“I try to look at the bright side that I did have two really big jumps, they just didn’t count in the books.”

The junior set a big mark in the long jump on Friday, winning with a leap of 18-8 3/4. She was seeded first at 18-6, and placed seventh in the event as a freshman for her first state medal.

Walters was seeded third in the triple jump with a mark of 38-4, and has battled back from and through an ankle injury this season.

“At districts, I was really hurting. I didn’t jump my best at districts so I was coming into this week knowing I should be first, and I know I can be first,” she said. “To get second, it’s just disappointing. I was looking for the gold. To walk away with silver, a lot of people would be happy with that. But I’m probably one of the biggest competitors from our area. So to come in and not do what I wanted to do, it is a bit upsetting.

“There’s next year. This is only going to push me harder through the offseason because I’m not getting beat next year. I’m going to win. Going to come into next year hopefully injury-free, be 100% and compete to win.”

Walters owns all-time area bests in both the long and triple jump.

Bomber relays

The team of Machalik, Bryson Walters, Ty Sander and Stephen Jones ran a school record time of 43.12 in the 2A 400 prelims Friday, which was seventh-best.

The group eclipsed that with a time of 43.01 to finish fourth in the event on Saturday.

“I don’t think realistically this is where we thought we would end up,” said Sander. “This is his (Machalik’s) first year, and then for Stephen and Bryson, this is their first time on a 4x100 team. So it’s a brand-new team. We started the year off a little slow, running high 44s, but throughout the season we got better and better. At districts, we realized we could place pretty high, but we weren’t expecting this.”

The group came into states seeded 10th with a time of 43.46.

“It’s a really good group,” said Jones. “We didn’t come in with any high expectations, so to come out with a fourth-place medal is pretty nice.”

The Palmerton girls 400 relay team of Claire Thomas, Nataly Walters, Sarah Sabo and Erin Gombert ran a 49.91 to place sixth. The group set a school and district record a week earlier, and lowered that mark in the prelims with a time of 49.29.

“I think it was a goal of ours to get here. We went to states last year, it wasn’t great,” Thomas said with a laugh. “So I think this year it was a goal of ours to go, but I don’t think any of us thought we would come home with state medals.”

Both the boys and girls relay teams own area bests in the event this season.

Each member of the girls relay team will also return next season.

“It’s really inspiring to be here around all of this talent,” said Sabo. “We were able to win a district championship, but now we’re able to see teams winning state championships. It’s very motivating.”

Swan songs

For both Machalik and Bryson Walters, the state meet marked an end to their high school athletic careers.

After a blazing run with the relay team, Walters collected his second state medal of the day with a sixth-place finish in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.13.

The senior, who was seeded eighth at 39.56, ripped off a personal and area best 39.22 in the event Friday in the prelims.

“That was a big PR for me,” he said. “Today, I wasn’t able to come close to that. But stuff happens. I’m glad I got the chance to run in finals. I would have wished for a better time, but I’m happy that I was able to do what I could.”

Walters, who also qualified for states in the 110 hurdles, was thrilled with the relay.

“I enjoyed being with my guys,” he said. “That was my group of friends before track. We were able to come together this season and really have some great achievements. It’s just a great thing to have.”

Machalik, who will continue his football career at Lehigh University in the fall, ran an 11.07 to place seventh overall in the 100.

The senior was seeded eighth with a time of 10.95, and ran an 11.03, the eighth-fastest time in prelims on Friday.

“I didn’t get a good block start, but for my first year, I’ll take that finish, especially going up against the top guys,” said Machalik, who owns the area best in the 100 this season. “I’m happy I was able to come out here and compete. I wish I would have run a better time, but I’ll take a medal at states any day.

“But just making it to states with the relay is what means the most. We were shooting for that record, and we shined in the big moment, which meant a lot to us. We came prepared and have great chemistry, and were able to run our best time ever in the finals. That means a lot.”

Big day for Barthold

Barthold captured her first state medal with a seventh-place finish and school record time of 2:17.71.

“It’s amazing,” said Barthold. “I did everything my coach wanted so I’m really happy. The competition definitely helped, especially toward the end, because I was able to push and go after the people in front of me. I did get boxed in a bit, but just tried to do my best.”

Barthold was seeded sixth with a 2:18.40, a mark that was the area best.

“All the girls here want it,” said Barthold. “No matter how tired they are, they’re going to give it their all.

“I’m happy with my time, and just being able to gradually improve.”

Barthold was also on the Bulldogs’ 3200 relay team, along with Natalie Moffitt, Emma Heil and Mikayla Gordon, that won its heat and ultimately finished ninth in a school record 9:54.32.

The team was seeded 15th with a time of 9:57.85, another mark that had been an area best.

Tigers roar

The Northwestern squad of Sophia Schaffer - who also qualified for states in the 400 - Carsyn Van Norman, Taylor Langley and Kaia Grantham finished eighth in the 400 relay with a time of 50.51.

“It definitely feels great,” said Grantham. “It took us a while to get to who our actual team was going to be. Last year, we DQ’d at districts, so making it to states and medaling is all we could ask for. Obviously we would have liked to run a little bit better, but it was definitely a great season.”

Grantham is the only senior on the squad, which set a school record time of 49.76 at the Jim Thorpe Invitational this season, a mark that was also a facility record.

The Tigers were seeded eighth in the event at 49.78, and lowered their school record with a 49.51 in prelims.

“I feel like the race at Jim Thorpe was a great stepping-stone for us,” said Grantham. “We really bonded as a team, especially getting the school record. It felt great and we were all really excited, and from there, we’ve just been going up.

“Putting in the time, and working with my teammates has really helped me get a lot farther than I imagined. I was not expecting this, and I’m really proud of what we accomplished this season.”


Day 2

Results of Times News Area Athletes


Class 2A

3200 relay – Northern Lehigh, 9:54.32, ninth overall

400 relay – Palmerton 49.91, sixth overall; Northwestern, 50.51, eighth overall

800 – Katelynn Barthold, Northern Lehigh, 2:17.71, seventh overall

Pole vault – Grace Yost, Northwestern, 10-0, tied for 18th overall

Triple jump – Nataly Walters, Palmerton, 39-7.25, second overall

Shot put – Sadie Fenstermaker, Northwestern, 35-0, 13th overall

Class 3A

Long jump – Samantha Plasha, Tamaqua, 16-10.25, 21st overall

Discus – Lorah Thomas, Lehighton, 89-5, 24th overall


Class 2A

100 - Matthew Machalik, Palmerton, 11.07, seventh overall

400 relay – Palmerton, 43.01, fourth overall

300 hurdles – Bryson Walters, Palmerton, 40.13, sixth overall

800 – Alex Porambo, Marian, 1:59.14, 15th overall

3200 – Albin Petschauer, Marian, 9:47.37, 23rd overall

Triple jump – Jake Rutkowitz, Palmerton, 42-9.5, 13th overall

Shot put – Zack Anthony, Palmerton, 45-2.75, 17th overall

Class 3A

Javelin – Joseph Roth, Lehighton, 172-9, 12th overall

Northern Lehigh's Katelyn Barthold runs the anchor leg of the 3200 relay at the PIAA State Track & Field championships. The Bulldog team just missed earning a medal, placing ninth. Barthold did earn an individual medal, gaining a seventh in the 800. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
Palmerton's Nataly Walters soars through the air during one of her triple jumps. Walters placed second in the event at states. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
Northwestern's Sophia Schaffer passes the baton to teammate Carsyn Van Norman during the 400 relay. The Tigers medaled with an eight-place finish. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
Palmerton's Claire Thomas passes the baton to Nataly Walters during the 400 relay preliminaries on Friday. The team made the finals and finished sixth. The rest of the team included Sarah Sabo and Erin Gombert. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS