BY JEFF FALK
LANDISVILLE – Because of its primal nature, track and field is the ultimate athletic competition.
Who can run faster? Who has more stamina? Who can throw farther? Who can jump higher?
But for Shayla Bonzelet, it’s all about ‘the turn’.
That she actually gains speed on ‘the turn’ is merely an optical illusion. But the key to her success is certainly her ability to manage and navitage ‘the turn’.
Under change-able skies on Sautrday at Hempfield High School, during the second and final day of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships, Bonzelet really ‘leaned into’ a pair of shiny medals. The Cedar Crest sophomore put on a spectacular show in winning what is quickly becoming her signature event – the 400-meter dash – before running a solid fifth in the 200 dash.
Bonzelet’s showing was a driving force behind the Falcon girls finishing a surprising fourth in the team standings. The team title went to Warwick, followed by Manheim Township and McCaskey.
Bonzaelet’s were two of a boat-load of medals garnered by local student-athletes at the two-day L-L T&F meet, but her triumph in the 400 was one of just two gold medals earned by Lebanon County competitors. Also on Saturday, Annville-Cleona senior sprinter Stanley Miller captured a silver medal in the 200 meters and a bronze in the 100 meters, while Elco junior thrower Ryelle Shuey added a bronze in the shot put to an earlier sixth-place performance in the javelin.
“I was determined,” said the soft-spoken Bonzelet. “In the 400, I was focusing on the back stretch. And I just wanted to stay consistent with my 200.
“My day went really well,” continued Bonzelet. “It went better than I expected. I feel really good about my 200.”
Bonzelet entered the 400 as the top seed, and got off to a strong start. But during the competition, one of the racers ran out of her lane and crossed into another.
Through disqualification, Bonzelet was awarded the win, despite not being the first girl to cross the finish line. She posted a winning time of 57.20, which was about a second-and-a-half quicker than her seeded time.
“Around 200 meters, the girl in one lane cut into another,” said Bonzelet. “It really didn’t affect my race. She was far enough ahead to not cut me off.
“I don’t know if it was a good run or not,” added Bonzelet. “In the 400, my goal was a PR (personal record). I want to do the best I can. I was more focused on the time. Not that the place wasn’t important.”
About an hour-and-half later, Bonzelet clicked off a 25.68 to finish fifth in the 200-meter dash. The race was won by Warwick’s Leah Graybill and her meet record of 24.72.
“Obviously, I’d like to get to states,” said Bonzelet. “In the 400, I’d like to get something like a 57. I’m not sure what the other times (in the district) are.”
After finishing a somewhat disappointing eighth in Friday’s long jump competition, S. Miller, aka ‘The Flying Little Dutchman’ rebounded nicely yesterday. With his 22.31 in the 200-meters, Miller now owns the Annville-Cleona school records in that and the 100-meter dash.
“It always feels nice,” said the upbeat Miller. “With the competition, this meet is harder than the season. I get a glimpse of how the rest of the world works. It also gives me a push towards districts.
“Being third in the hundred and second in the 200, with all these athletic greats and super skills, it makes you feel good,” Miller added.
For a time, Miller challenged Leonel Del Rosario of McCaskey for the lead in the 200, before losing to him by .14 of a second. Miller was third by an eye lash in the 100-meter dash.
“I feel like the 200 is an event I can do better in,” said Miller. “I can’t improve drastically, but if I focus on form, I can get those exra tenths-of-a-second.
“You come here with a lot of confidence,” Miller added. “Then you get hit with the reality that there are better guys. It’s humbling.”
After finishing sixth in the javelin Shuey turned it up a notch in the afternoon shot-put competition. The Raider junior’s 36-11.75 in the shot was a bit off Anna Cooney of Solanco’s winning throw of 41-9.25 and Jenna Raezer of Ephrata’s runner-up heave of 38-05.
“She was kind of out there,” said Shuey of Cooney. “When I saw her throw I was like, ‘Wow, that’s incredible!’ You need to set your goals high, but that was a little out of reach.
“It’s (third) huge,” Shuey continued. “A lot of people get tired going into the finals. But I get stronger.”
Shuey popped her 36-11.75 in the middle of the competition. She also counted a throw in the 35s, two in the 34s and one in the 33s.
“It’s been awesome,” said Shuey, a three-sport athlete who’s out for track-and-field for the first time in her high school career. “When I was in the middle school I had a ton of fun with it. I ran the 100, 200 and 400.
“It was awkward when I first started throwing,” continued Shuey, “but now I really enjoy it. Every meet I’ve been able to increase my throws.”
Cedar Crest senior Hannah Weddle was fourth in the shot put, while Falcon teammate Hannah Woelfling was sixth, adding to the gold medal she won in discus on Friday and the bronze she picked up in the high jump on Saturday morning. Another Falcon, freshman Gwyneth Young, ran third in the 1600-meter race, matching the bronze she grabbed in the 3200-meters on Friday.
Also taking home a pair of medals for Cedar Crest was junior DeAsia Holloman, who was fourth in the 100 high hurdles and fifth in the 100-meter dash.
On the boys’ side, the Falcon fourseome of Adam Wolfe, William Sheffield, Ryan Scicchitano and Nate Shutter collaborated on a runner-up finish in the 3200-meter relay.
Northern Lebanon senior Christian Trader came in fifth in the triple jump, after finishing sixth in the long jump on Friday.
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