JT’s Hydro second at states
Jim Thorpe’s Sam Hydro rounds the turn during his 800 preliminary race on Friday. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
SHIPPENSBURG – Lungs burning and legs churning, Sam Hydro did everything he could to hold on.
The Jim Thorpe senior didn’t know who was coming behind him – and he didn’t care.
All that mattered was what he saw in front of him.
The result was the race of his life, a performance that helped him secure a silver medal Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.
Though Juniata’s Garrett Baublitz won the Class 2A 800 in 1:53.96, just edging Hydro, who ran a massive personal best (1:54.24), there was little to be disappointed about on the final day of competition at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.
“I really wanted to get first place,” Hydro said afterward. “I gave it my all, crushed my PR. I have to give up to (Juniata’s) Garrett Baublitz, he’s a great runner, and it’s very well deserved. But I’m more than happy with what I did today.”
“Last week, I PR’d at districts, I did a 1:56.99. It wasn’t a great race, and today, I went out hard, like I’m supposed to and did what I could that second lap and that’s about it. “
Hydro kicked in the final 300 meters, making a move on the outside going down to backstretch to surge to the front.
“I felt good. Coming down, I had no idea who was behind me,” said Hydro. “I felt really good, but that last 50 meters, (my legs) felt like concrete coming down. I gave it all I could, I had nothing left, and Baublitz just had a great kick, and that’s what happened.
“That’s where I gotta go. Last year, Collin Ebling (of Pottsville), he kicked at the 300, that’s what won him the race. And I’d say about the same thing happened. We came right down to that last 100, and that’s all I had. Baublitz really just had a lot more in him, and that’s about it.”
The kick sent Hydro, who was seeded third, to the lead with the race winding down, a position he has become familiar – and comfortable – with this season.
“I would say coming around that 300, everybody was kind of inside. I could tell people were slowing down,” said Hydro, who won the district title in the event last week. “Going into this, I knew that I couldn’t rely on anybody, so I just had to go out there and do my own thing, run a race I haven’t run as hard before. Coming down there, I felt so good about it; I thought I had it.
“Right there, I was just trying to hold on, hold off anybody that was there. I could hear somebody that was coming up behind me. Once he came up next to me – I usually never get out-kicked, but it’s just what it is, and I had nothing left. You gotta give it to him. He ran a great race.”
Baublitz also won the 1600 in 4:11.54 on Saturday.
“But it’s all I had,” said Hydro. “Baublitz has been here before doing it. But to come here, throw down this time, that much faster, it feels great either way. I’m very happy.
“This was definitely my goal coming off cross country, not having the season I wanted. I wanted to show up this season, and make a statement, and just have a great season.”
Hydro’s runner-up finish highlighted a day that saw six individual area athletes and one relay team capture state medals.
Palmerton’s Jordan Nelson captured his first state medal in his third trip to Shippensburg, placing third in the 2A 110 hurdles with a time of 14.89.
“It feels great. I get to enjoy it with the rest of my team and celebrate after,” said Nelson. “It’s just a wonderful experience.
“I wish I would have run a faster time today. But overall, I can’t complain. It was great weather, great competition.”
Nelson, who won league and district titles in the event, ran a 15.18 in Friday’s prelims, and a 15.45 in the semis.
“The final was competitive, definitely,” said Nelson. “I feel like I had a pretty good start, and they just picked up; I just had to keep up with them.
“It’s definitely grown a lot, especially when you see my time compared to other people. So every year, my confidence just keeps growing. My ultimate goal was just to go sub-15, and finally I did that.”
While Nelson captured his first state medal, his real breakthrough might have come at the league meet, where we won his second straight gold medal.
“I would say definitely at leagues,” Nelson said of when his confidence started to grow. “I feel like I really started to push myself then and there, and I feel like from then on, I feel like after I ran my times there, I feel like my confidence really just kept going up. “
Nelson hit his PR last week at districts, running a 14.68. Though he didn’t quite get the time he was looking for, the junior, who was seeded second, is eager to come back next year and improve his standing.
“I just wanted to get somewhat close to my district time, and third place, I’m fine with that running a 14-89,” said Nelson. “I definitely want to go for gold next year.”
Northern Lehigh’s Reagan Pender won her first medal at the PIAA Championships with a fourth-place finish and in the 2A 3200, securing a PR in the process (11:10.50).
“I thought it was fast; I thought I blinked and it was over,” said Pender. “But I thought it went well. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Pender has had a stellar postseason. The junior was a Colonial League champion and a district runner-up before picking up her first state medal.
“I worried for about a month. Last night we went out to dinner, and that was fun. Then I went home and I rested. And I my best friend’s up here … she’s kinda like my stress release; she knows how to talk me out of things when I start thinking a little too much. But my team, my coaches, my parents – lots of prayer - all helped.
“It’s the stress of getting here, and then when you’re here, it’s like, ‘I’m here, so let’s do the best I can do.’ And then it’s like, ‘Oh no, what if I can’t.’ It’s just in my nature to worry a little bit too much. It’s cool to know that it doesn’t “payoff,” but in the same way, it helps me grow stronger.
Pender stayed in the top-five throughout, and used a kick in the final 50 meters to secure fourth place.
“I think the fifth lap (I knew the race was going well), because that’s when you’re into the race, we have three laps to go, and once we do that lap, it’s an 800 left, so it’s all you have left.
“The girl behind me (Fairview’s Maddison Hayes) was pushing me a long a little bit, and we were battling a little bit, so I knew I was where I needed to be. I tried to stay with Cori (McCormick, North Schuylkill) for a little bit, but she’s so fast. So I knew that was fine, and I just tried to stay where I was. I felt like I was going fast enough, so I just tried to stay there and not let anyone pass me, and if they did, start going with them.”
A state medalist during the cross country season, Pender is already looking toward next season.
“I’m going to rest a little bit before cross country training starts in a couple of weeks,” she said. “I was sixth last year, so hopefully I’ll be able to go back again this year. And I love cross country, so I’m so excited.”
Palmerton’s Jake Martinez was fifth in the 2A 1600 with a time of 4:23.43 to capture his second state medal.
“Honestly, when I thought back to freshman year, this is what I always dreamed of being. It’s pretty crazy. It’s my last race, and to be able to medal again, and to be on the podium with some great runners, is just a dream come true. I wouldn’t want to end my career any other way.”
Martinez, who was eighth in the race a year ago, picked his way through the field to work his way into contention. Martinez was next to last after the first lap, and hung around eighth over the next 800 meters.
“I’m a guy that really likes to race plan, but it got completely blown up after the first lap,” Martinez said. “We took it out so fast, and I was just struggling to stay attached. But I stayed calm. My coach, and my parents, they always have taught me through the workouts we do, just how to stay calm when the situation changes. I was really happy to execute and take care of business.
“Coming down the stretch, I was trying for third. I was kicking, and I just got out-kicked by the guy right behind me. Honestly, my goal today was to medal … that was my main goal. I don’t care what place; if I can get on the podium … I couldn’t be happier.”
Jim Thorpe’s Lydia Wallace earned her first state medal with a sixth place finish in the 2A 300 hurdles in 46.63. Wallace was seeded 22nd with a 48.28, but the sophomore ran a huge PR of 45.97.
“It means a lot,” said Wallace. “Just starting the hurdles this year, I never would have thought I would have gotten here. My goal was to medal in the 800 by my senior year, and now I’m a sophomore, and I medaled in an event I never would have medaled in at states.”
Wallace also qualified for states in the 800, but did not make it into the finals.
“I think the other events, the sprints, and the mid-distance races, they definitely helped me. They helped me get used to the feeling. It wasn’t as bad, comparable to the 800, which is a really tough race.”
Already a state qualifier for the second time and now a medalist, Wallace is hoping her steady progression continues next season.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “This was a meet with really good competition. I was pulling out 48s all season until leagues and here. I never thought I would get 45 (second) running this, so I’m happy I PR’d.
“My goals for next year are obviously to come back here, but you never know what could happen. But if I do get here, I just want to do better than I did this year, maybe get fourth on the podium. And you never know, there are seniors leaving, but there are freshmen coming in, so it’s anyone’s race.”
Tamaqua’s Grace Stegemerten, Sarah Maue, Brianna Dumond and Frances Kabana collected their first state medal together, placing sixth in the 2A 3200 relay with a time of 9:46.41.
“It’s amazing,” said Dumond. “It means the world to me just to see how much we’ve all grown and how far we’ve come. It’s just been an amazing season, and it’s great to see the payout come out this well for us.”
The Raiders, who eclipsed their seed time of 9:49.46, hung in medal contention throughout, running eighth after the second leg before Dumond raced up to fourth before handing off to Kabana, the anchor.
“The goal was to go out, stay fast, and try to stay with the next person in from of you,” said Kabana.
“Try to pass as many people as possible,” added Maue.
“Just stay in position to get a medal,” said Dumond.
And Kabana wasn’t about to let her guard down.
“My last 300, I was like, ‘I don’t know how many girls are in front of me, so I can’t let more pass me,’” said Kabana.
The strong start by Stegemerten put the team where they wanted to be.
“I thought Grace was in great position after the first leg. She knew what she had to do. She was right where we wanted her to be for us,” said Dumond.
“She passed a bunch of people at the finish of her leg, so we knew she did a great job,” said Maue.
Jim Thorpe’s Jarrin Geisinger collected his second state medal, placing seventh in the 2A 100 with a time of 11.19. The senior ran an 11.04 in the prelims and semis.
“It definitely feels good for my last year being here. I could have not placed, so I’m definitely grateful that I placed in the top-eight. I wished to be higher, but you can’t be greedy.”
Geisinger, who also qualified for states in the 200 and made it to the semis, ran an 11.04 in the prelims and semis in the 100.
“It was pretty windy, but that didn’t affect me,” he said. “I just didn’t have a good run, other people ran better than me today. It is what it is.”
For Geisinger, it was about more than just him on Saturday.
“I came out here to give it all to my boy Tyler (Kowatch), that passed away of heart problems,” Geisinger said. “And I definitely wanted a medal for him, for sure.”
Geisinger was also seventh in the 100 as a sophomore while competing for Marian.
“I just want to thank everyone from Jim Thorpe,” said Geisinger. “They were all supporting me through this, and I can’t thank them enough.”
PIAA TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS (DAY 2)
RESULTS OF AREA ATHLETES
3200 – Reagan Pender, Northern Lehigh, 11:10.50, fourth overall
3200 relay – Tamaqua, 9:46.41, sixth overall
Shot put – Emily Titus, Tamaqua, 34-04.0, 16th overall
Pole vault – Debbie Loyd, Jim Thorpe, 9-6, 15th overall
300 hurdles – Lydia Wallace, Jim Thorpe, 46.63, sixth overall
Discus – Isabelle Meckes, Lehighton, 114-06, tied for 12th
High jump – Kaia Slaw, Lehighton, 5-3, tied for 14th; Armani Dunkley, Pleasant Valley, 5-0, tied for 24th
Long jump – Kaia Slaw, Lehighton, 17-0.0, 19th overall
110 hurdles – Jordan Nelson, Palmerton, 15.45, second in semifinals, advances to final; Nelson, 14.89, third overall
100 – Jarrin Geisinger, Jim Thorpe, 11.04, first in semifinals, advances to final; Geisinger, 11.19, seventh overall
Triple jump – Jordan Nelson, Palmerton, 41-06.00, 14th overall
1600 – Jake Martinez, Palmerton, 4:23.43, fifth overall
200 – Jarrin Geisinger, Jim Thorpe, 25.44, eighth in semifinal heat, does not advance
800 – Sam Hydro, Jim Thorpe, 1:54.24, second overall; Jake Martinez, Palmerton, 2:04.48, 11th overall
Shot put – William Munson, Jim Thorpe, 46-08.0, 17th overall
Long jump – Barron Stauffenberg, Tamaqua, 21-01.25, 16th overall