Area athletes claim four gold medals
Jim Thorpe’s Debbie Loyd goes over the bar during the pole vault at the Schuylkill League championships on Tuesday. Loyd finished tied for second. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Tamaqua’s Barron Stauffenberg competes in the long jump at the Schuylkill League meet. Stauffenberg won the event. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
With winds swirling and the rains about to pour down on the Tamaqua Area High School Stadium early Tuesday evening, the only thing left undone was the shot put event on Day 1 of the boys and girls Schuylkill League Track championships.
But despite the late weather, there was plenty of action and it was the host team that may have set the early tone for the two-day event. The Tamaqua girls did that by pulling off a huge win in the 1600 relay event, outracing a strong North Schuylkill squad.
It was one of many interesting events that were staged throughout the course of the three-plus hours of competition.
Although one veteran coach felt that the Raiders were the favorites to capture the championships because of the home advantage, it was a strong contingent of Blue Mountain athletes that were the point leaders on the boys side of the ledger.
“I don’t know if you can really call us the favorites,” said Tamaqua head coach Tom Kanger after he was informed of being installed the front-runners. Kanger ceded that to Blue Mountain (the regular season Division I champions), and quickly inserted Jim Thorpe and a hosts of other schools into the conversation.
For certain, Blue Mountain leaped to the fore with 54.6 points to hold the early lead. Jim Thorpe followed a distant second with 31.1 points. Minersville was a surprise third (30). North Schuylkill (26) and Tamaqua (20) rounded out the top five.
Lehighton zoomed to the front in the girls race thanks to Kia Slaw’s standout effort in the long jump, which helped her team get staked to the first-day lead with 54.33 points.
Next was North Schuylkill (44), followed by Blue Mountain (29), Jim Thorpe (20.66) and Minersville (20).
There were several records forged early in the meet, including the performance by Tamaqua’s 1600 meter relay team of Brianna Dumond, Frances Kabana, Sarah Maue and Grace Stegemerten, who hit the tape in a school record time of 9:45.82.
“Coach just told us to run hard,” said Kabana when asked about the strategy behind the winning effort.
Lehighton got sterling performances not only from Slaw in the long jump, but also in the pole vault where Isabella Baka and teammate Sarah Labile finished one-two. Baka’s vault was at 10, while Liable cleared nine feet. Third and fourth place went to the Jim Thorpe duo of Debbie Lloyd and Tessa Bevilacqua.
“I told Kia early in the season that it wasn’t going to be long before she started to jump in the 17s,” said Lehighton coach Jim Blakeslee. “Early in the season, she was jumping 16 consistently and knew that was just going to contrinue to improve.”
Slaw seemed to know it as well.
“I had all the confidence coming in. I was really sky high,” said Slaw who had a personal best of 17-8 ½ two weeks ago at at the Allen Invitational. Tuesday she jumped 17-2 ¼. Slaw’s teammate Megan Aaron was third, adding six valuable points to the team scoring.
Marian’s Emma McClafferty was seeded second in the discus, but she wound up winning the event with a throw of 118 to upend the favorite, Emma Green of North Schuylkill.
“It wasn’t one of my best throws,” said McClafferty who has thrown the discus 131 feet. “I felt okay coming in and it was a bonus to get the win.”
Lehighton sisters — Abigail Meckes and Isabelle Meckes — finished in third and fourth place, respectively, in the discus.
The rivalry between Emily Zoscin of Weatherly and Shenandoah Valley’s Emily Demalis will be showcased today in the 200 meter dash. Both girls qualified for today’s finals. Although Zoscin finished third in the preliminary with a time of 27:34 behind top runner Kyle Kutz (26:52) of Blue Mountain with Demalis’ time being 26:44. Also qualifying were Panther Valley’s Adriana Tavares and two Tamaqua sprinters — Kayla Sherry and Caitlin Smith.
North Schuylkill’s standout 3200 runner Cori McCormick won her event as expected in a time of 11:23.91. In the 300 meter hurdles, Blue Mountain’s Jacey Miller set a new record with a time of 45.88, just ahead of Jim Thorpe’s Lydia Wallace (46.72).
Mahanoy Area’s standout Meredith Rhoades will be the girl to beat in the 100 hurdles after spinning out a time of 16.36 in the prelims. Brittany Bartasvage of Lehighton, and Thorpe’s Kaylee Dulski, also made the final.
The highlight for area boys came in the long jump, where Tamaqua’s Barron Stauffenberg captured the long jump in 22-2 1/2. Jarrin Geisinger of Jim Thorpe was second at 21-0.
Jim Thorpe’s 1600 relay team couldn’t quite keep up with the winners – North Schuylkill. The Olympians’ foursome of Blake Kilmer, Chris Candly, James Schwartz and Sam Hydro finished 10 seconds behind the speedy Spartans. Tamaqua was fourth in the race.
Jim Thorpe’s Billy Munson finished third in the javelin throw with a 155-06, which was won by Blue Mountain’s Henry Cotterill with a winning toss of 181-01. Tamaqua’s Jacob Rudy finished in sixth place.
Blue Mountain picked up a win in the 3200 as Kevin Haas finished on top with a time of 9:53.78. In the high jump event, Minersville’s Bryce Ellinger won the gold at 6-5, Lehighton’s Maso Carter was fourth and Thorpe’s Tahmir Spencer fifth.
The 300 hurdles were won by Mahanoy Area’s Chase Mazalusky in a time of 41.12, while Justin Ellis of Thorpe placed fourth and Tamaqua’s Zeno Zukovich came in seventh.
Several events had preliminary events, with the final scheduled for this afternoon. In the 100 meter dash, Jim Thorpe’s speedy Jarin Geisinger is the favorite after sprinting to an 11.18 qualifying time. A pair of Tamaqua sprinters — Matt Kistler and John Franko — also advanced as did Lehighton’s Spencer and Marian’s Gabriel Bauer. Tamaqua’s Nick DiMarco is the top seed in the 110 hurdles today. Kistler is the top seed in the 200, where Spencer and Geisinger also advanced to the finals, as did Marian’s Ean Chelak.