SHIPPENSBURG – Taking care of business.
Getting healthy at just the right time.
Making the most of a golden opportunity.
Defending a title with heart and honor, again.
Ahh, to be an Annvillle-Cleona track and field athlete yesterday. Because if you weren’t Dutch, you weren’t much.
On Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, the Little Dutchmen enjoyed an absolutely marvelous District Three Class AA Track and Field Meet. Annville-Cleona stood out, both in the male and female portions of the competition, individually and as units.
Spearheaded by the middle distance prowess of seniors Ben Mason and Shawn Wolfe, the Annville-Cleona boys finished fifth in the Class AA team standings. Mason won the 400-meter dash for the third straight time, Wolfe returned from dizzy spells to set a new record in 800-meter run and the two combined to anchor Little Dutchmen quartets that ran first in the 300-meter relay and was second by .01 of a second in the 1600-meter relay.
“I have a fainting problem,” said Wolfe of an illness which has kept him out of invidual events over the last month. “It’s an electrolyte deficiency problem. But I felt 100 percent at the beginning of the day. I felt the best I have all season.”
“You have to balance it,” Mason added. “You don’t want to do too much for yourself, and you don’t want to do too much for the relays and take away from individual races.”
On Saturday morning, Wolfe, Mason, Mark Bachman and Jeff Inman smoked the Class AA competition in the 3200 relay. Then during the final event of the day, Wolfe, Mason, Bachman and Eric Bowman were out-kicked by a Trinity Shamrock outfit in the 1600 relay.
In between, Mason was again defended a Class AA 400 championship he first earned as a sophomore. Mason kicked it into gear halfway through the one-lap race and had plenty to hold off Trinity’s David Bricker at the tape.
“I remember thinking that he was going to go out a little fast, so I wanted to go out faster than ususal,” said Mason of Bricker. “I caught him on the backstretch and I could feel myself pulling away from him.
“That’s the event (the 400) I focus on most,” continued Mason. “Yeah, I think that’s (three in-a-row) awesome. I knew it was going to be tough, but I wanted to defend my title.”
Wolfe appeared fresh, well-rested and showed no ill effects from his lay-off. Running strong and hard, with his signature curly locks flapping in the air, Wolfe took control of the 800-meter run early and was never seriously headed.
His time of 1:54.39 shaved .34 seconds off Adam Smith’s old District Three Class AA mark established in 2004.
“It’s awesome,” said Wolfe, who claimed his first District invidiual gold medal, to go along with a slew of team and relay medals. “The person who had it before me (Smith) was a fast runner. It felt like it was all adrenaline over the last 200 (meters).
“The plan was to go out and run 55 seconds (over the first lap) and then whatever happens happens,” added Wolfe. “It looked like I was by myself out there, but there were a lot of fast guys behind me.”
The top seed in the girls’ Class AA shot put, Annville-Cleona’s Avree Wright wasted little time establishing herself as the favorite and putting pressure on her competition. Wright uncorked a 37-01.25 on her initial attempt, and it withstood the gold standard.
“It’s what we call our ‘nervous throw’,” said Wright. “Normally, my first throw isn’t that great. I was a little nervous because when you’re the first seed you always have pressure on you.
“I would say I felt it was good enough to get the gold medal,” Wright continued. “I had a good feeling it was good enough.”
With no one stepping up in the high jump event, Little Dutchmen junior Alex Siebecker recognized it was her time to shine. Seeded third – but tied with six other competitors – Siebecker leapt 5-0 to jolt the rest of the field, including teammate Sidni Peiffer, who came in as the top seed.
“Yeah, I never would’ve expected winning,” said Siebecker. “I was just hoping to get third. Actually it was between me and the girl from Hanover (Morgan Herrick). We were jumping 5-0 and on my third attempt I got it. When that happened I thought, “maybe I can win it.’
“I definitely had a lot of butterflies,” added Siebecker.
The Lebanon County competitor who took home the most medals from the Distirct Three meet was Northern Lebanon senior sprinter Joe Vedilago in Class AAA. Vedilago ran second in the 400-meter dash, fourth in the 200 and sixth in the 100.
But he would’ve traded them all for a shiny gold one.
“I’d probably take what’s behind door number two,” said Vedilago, proliferating the Let’s Make a Deal reference. “I would take gold in the 400.
“But I thought I did pretty good,” Vedilago continued. “I got a PR (personal record) and a school record in the 400 (49.08), and I’m moving on to states.”
Just as impressive was the Palmyra girls’ 3200-meter relay team of Olivia Farabaugh, Miranda Salvo, Maria Tukis and Katie Dembrowksi. The Cougars’ fearless foursome destroyed their Class AAA competition by more than ten seconds, clocking a 9:17.49.
Farabaugh, Tukis and Dembrowski teamed with Haley Bova to finish fourth in the 1600-meter relay.
With four different schools getting in on the fun, Lebanon County nearly swept the boys’ Class AAA pole vault contest on Friday afternoon. Super vaulter Tim Moses of Palmyra led the local charge by winning it with a 16-0 effort, and he was followed by Northern Lebanon’s Derek DiAngelis, the reigning Lancaster-Lebanron League champion who finished third, Lebanon High’s Zac Norman, who took fourth and Cedar Crest’s Daniel Neiswender, who was sixth.
Also on Friday, Palmyra senior Rachel Kline copped runner-up honors in the girls’ Class AAA high jump, Annville-Cleona’s Samantha Becker was third in the girls’ AA pole vault and Shanna Sweigart of Cedar Crest took home bronze in the girls’ AAA shot put.