BY JEFF FALK
SHIPPENSBURG – She’s Lebanon County’s best long jumper. She’s the best long jumper Annville-Cleona’s ever produced.
And she’s the best long jumper in District Three.
But Reagan Hess might not be the best long jumper that she can be.
On a steamy Friday afternoon at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the opening day of the District Three Track and Field Championships, Hess put forth a dominant effort in winning the Class AA long jump, but not her personal-best showing. The Annville-Cleona senior popped an 18-8.25 to lap her competition by more than two feet.
Hess’ performance also broke the District Three standard of 18-6 that she set at last season’s meet. It was the third District Three gold medal in the long jump in Hess’ illustrious career.
Hess’ effort was the initial Lebanon County highlight of a District Three meet that concludes on Saturday at Shippensburg University. Hess’ strong showing was just one of a number significant performances put forth by Little Dutchmen student-athletes.
“You look at the seeds. Everybody does,” said Hess. “But you have to remember seeds are just numbers. I felt confident. My seed was good. My season was good. And I felt good in warm-ups.
“My mindset was that ‘one-event’ focus,” continued Hess. “When I’m on the runway, I’m not listening to the length of other jumps. I know what my length should be. Unless something happens, there’s no reason not to get that jump.”
Hess’ long jump competition was sandwiched around qualifying for the finals of the 100-meter dash and qualifying for the finals of the 200-meter dash. Hess entered the LJ competition with a seeded distance of 19-1.5, one that was 46 inches ahead of the rest of the field.
“It’s great,” said Hess. “It’s an amazing feeling. It (the district record) was a goal of mine. But I don’t know how I feel about it. It’ll probably set in when I finish the 200 (on Saturday).
“It’s (going between events) exhausting,” added Hess. “You’re trying to get enough energy to pop out a good jump. The heat didn’t help at all.”
Hess will find herself in similar positions in the 100- and 200-meter dash finals on Saturday. And her formula for success will be similar as well – focus on herself and take care of her own business.
“The long jump is probably my favorite event, most of the time. But it’s really close to the 100,” said Hess. “I was expecting my (trial) times to be slower. I felt pretty good.
“It’s incredible to see other teammates do well,” added Hess. “I know Stanley Miller has been looking forward to this meet for a long time.”
Miller, a junior sprinter, turned in a steady performance in the 100- and 200-meter trials and the Class AA long jump, while junior Noah Myers enjoyed a surprisingly strong outing in the Class AA discus.
Myers used his personal-best heave of 129-5 to capture third in the competition. His effort was seven inches farther than his previous best.
Dante Manneta won the Class AA discus with a throw of 138-1.
“I’m very excited because at the beginning of the year I didn’t think the discus was my strong suit,” said Myers, who in the fall doubles as the Annville-Cleona football team’s quarterback. “Coming into the season, I thought it was the javelin. But through practice, I saw how much I got better. All the throwing events helped me, just because they’re so much of a mental thing.
“I came in seeded eighth,” Myers continued. “I thought that was great. Placing third, I couldn’t be happier. It felt like any regular throw. But when you see it sail it’s like, ‘That’s good.’ But form is where it’s all at.”
Unlike Hess, Miller was able to get his long jump competition out of the way before tackling the sprint trials.
Seeded third coming in, Miller reached 19-8.25 which was fifth to winner Brendan Sparr of Schuylkill Valley’s 21-8.75. But Miller held it together to qualify for the 100- and 200-meter finals.
I was actually happy with that,” said Miller of his long jump performance. “I had some issues with my legs, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I just couldn’t get enough height.
“I feel pretty confident (for the sprint finals),” Miller added. “I feel like I’ve done everything I can do.”
Meanwhile, Annville-Cleona baseball player Cameron Hoch came in a satisfying fourth in the Class AA javelin. Hoch’s 153-3 was slightly off the winning toss of 158-1 uncorked by Delone Catholic’s Seth Leonard.
Friday was more of an uneven day for Cedar Crest star Ariel Jones.
Competing in the Class AAA triple jump, the second-seeded Jones’ 37-8.25 went four inches past her personal-best, but it only netted her a fourth-place medal. The competitors spent most of the evening chasing down the winning 37-11.25 that Lower Dauphin junior Karina Long posted early.
Jones was one of seven competitors to surpass her seeded distance. Another was Palmyra’s Camryn Simpson, who recorded a 37-4 to finish fifth.
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