Photos by Don Rich, Patty Morgan, Charles Stone and Megan Clugh
Giving the AAA Guys Something To Think About
The Class AAA boys pole vault was still a day away, but Kane Area’s Patrick Anderson wanted to give the big school vaulters something to think about.
With victory in hand on his first attempt in the Class AA competition, Anderson knew the next two stops on his journey to the awards stand – cracks at the AA and AAA meet records. The Penn State recruit picked up the AA mark and his second consecutive victory with a leap of 15 feet, 11 inches.
“We were thinking coming in that 15 feet might be the winning height,” Anderson said of his opening height and a first-attempt clearance that made him a champion once again. “We knew that even if there were going to be people in, I’ve got to jump and I’ve got to compete.”
With runner-up Joey Rakowski of Quaker Valley and third-placer Ben Shank of Camp Hill unable to navigate over 15-0, the Penn State recruit was going it alone. His first-attempt clearance of 15-11 erased Hickory’s Eric Sparks and his 15-10 from 2005, with the AAA record vault by Hatboro-Horsham’s Joe Berry in 2007 up next.
“The AAA state meet record is 16-3 so we wanted to try to have the best thing out there,” Anderson said of the reason for attempting a height lower than his PR and the all-time state record of 16-7. “(My second attempt at 16-4) was my best one. I mean none of them were … I feel like I could have done better on all of them.
“The crowd, they were amped up. I was amped up, and that’s just what happens.”
Looking back on an outdoor season that opened with a 16-2 blast on the last day of March, Anderson has plenty of achievements, including his PR of 16-4.75 in April at a triangular meet.
“That was like a 60 degree day, and there were only about five kids in the meet,” the winner said. “I’d watch a couple of kids go, mostly my teammates, and then I get to go. It was a big difference from sitting here for four hours than sitting there for a half hour.”
His lone regret thus far in 2012? A Penn Relays performance that was less than he wanted.
“Penn Relays is one of the meets I was aiming for,” Anderson said. “I was fourth my junior year, so I wanted to come back and do something good there. It just didn’t happen. I jumped 15-1 and got fifth. That’s one meet I wish I could take and redo.”
Next up for Anderson is another title defense, this time at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
“Weight room work, drills, jumping, pretty much everything,” Anderson said of his upcoming prep work for the national meet. “We’re starting over now. We want to jump big then, and we’ve got time to work on things. We’re taking advantage of that.”
It’s not that she didn’t appreciate the encouragement, but Marissa Kalsey of Waynesburg Central wouldn’t have minded a couple thousand fewer people watching her every move. After all, she had a state championship to win and a record to try to break.
“I would probably say last week,” Kalsey said of her preference between jumping on a temporary runway inside the back straightaway at the District 7 (WPIAL) meet and competing front and center before Friday’s sun-baked throng at Seth Grove Stadium. “The crowd pumps you up, but I could focus more last week. Everybody was yelling for me, just a lot of pressure, I guess.”
Neither the pressure not the other vaulters in the Class AA field could get to Kalsey, who entered the competition at 11 feet. She registered first-attempt clearances all the way through her second consecutive winning height of 12 feet, 6 inches.
“My 12-6 today, I kind of wasn’t sure about it, I wasn’t sure if I would get it,” she said. “I feel like I can do 13-0 if I get everything right, but not every jump do you get everything right. That’s what happened at WPIALs. I don’t even know how I did it.
“It was so surprising to me. I was surprised that I was able to get it easily this time, too. It felt like everything was right, and I was able to get over good.”
At last week’s WPIAL championships, coach Howard Brunell put the brakes on his standout vaulter after she cleared 12-6 on her third attempt, citing that the risks outweighed the gains for a tired athlete.
On Friday, there was no holding back as she tried to take the 12-7 by Wilson Area’s Allison Vanek off the books. With the bar up to a meet record 12-8, Brunell had some simple advice for his vaulter before her three attempts.
“Just relax and enjoy it,” he recalled. “You’re in the limelight, you’ve met all your goals this year, the state record being the final one. If you don’t get it, everything else has fallen into place.
“She was even prom queen. You can’t beat that for a senior year.”
Kalsey might have had another first-attempt clear for a record, but the standards didn’t fit her vault.
“If I had moved her standards to 24, I think she would have had it,” Brunell said of the first attempt.
“Wind, tailwind, how the vaulter feels. There are so many variables in pole vaulting it drives you nuts. It’s very worthwhile when you get a kid who works like her, though. She deserves everything she got. She’s a really good kid, a really good kid.”
With a state championship and a pair of 12-6 clearances freshly printed on her season resume, Kalsey will turn her attention to vaulting next year at Westminster College, a Division III school that some might find a surprising choice for one of Pennsylvania’s best vaulters.
“I’ve had coaches call, and I’ve visited bigger schools, but I like the atmosphere of a smaller school better,” said Kalsey, who was 15th as a freshman, runner-up in 2010 and third a year ago. “And I really love the coach there. I definite want to focus on pole vaulting when I’m in college, but college is also about grades obviously.
“I think that working all the time on pole vault would be maybe not the smartest decision for me. I really like the coach at Westminster, and he would do whatever it takes to have a later or fit my needs.”
First throw proves to be the winner.
No matter how hard he tried – and he really didn’t try – Michael Shuey of Johnsonburg couldn’t hide his excitement. He was proud to be the Class AA javelin champion.
“I really wanted to win,” said Shuey, who had the support of a vocal Johnsonburg contingent. “We really tried hard to get better. I’m just really happy right now.”
For all intents and purposes, the competition was over soon after Shuey set foot on the all-weather runway for his opening throw. His first-round missile hit the turf at 200 feet, 1 inch.
“I always throw good the first time, and then I get too psyched out in my mind and I try to throw farther the next five times,” the senior said. “I knew if I just relaxed, it would be my best throw. I wanted to be first going into the finals so I could watch everybody.”
Earning his place at the end of the javelin line for the final three throws, Shuey watched as only three of the nine finalists were able to improve on preliminary marks. Sophomore Tyler Hope of Tamaqua Area grabbed the silver at 198-4, while rival Ryan Kerr of Brookville Area was third at 194-8.
“No, not really,” Shuey said when asked if he was concerned that his opener would stand up. “I throw against Ryan a lot so I knew what he was going to do and I knew what I was going to do.
“I was just worrying about relaxing and doing my best. I didn’t know what would take first. I just wanted to be relaxed, and I knew that would win it.”
Finishing ninth as a sophomore with a throw of 178-8 and seventh a year ago at 183-1, Shuey entered Shippensburg with a season best of 212-2 in April and a two-year run at his state title.
“(My sophomore year) is when I really started picking it up, and I practiced a lot more than I ever did before,” he said.
It wasn’t one if by land, and two if by sea, but the state’s top middle-distance runners showed there was more than one way to beat the heat, save a little energy and still qualify for Saturday’s finals.
“I do like to be in control of the race,” 800-meter standout Emma Keenan of Gwynedd-Mercy said of her strategy for qualifying. “I’m very comfortable doing that because then I know I’m going the pace I want to be going. I knew I had girls pushing me behind me so I felt comfortable out there in the front.”
Keenan allowed the chase pack to close the gap with about 250 meters left before she refocused and cruised through the line first and on to Saturday’s final with concrete goals in mind.
“There is definitely a medal goal for tomorrow, but recently I feel like numbers are just as important,” said Keenan, who is atop the yearly list at 2:08.08. “So I’m really hoping to break 2:08 tomorrow.”
At twice the distance, Pennsbury’s Sara Sargent got a little confidence boost from a negative-split 4:55.74, the day’s best by more than three seconds over defending champion Margo Malone of North Hills. The pace was not as hot, but six runners also advanced from the other heat.
The opening heat of the AAA boys 1,600 featured a blanket finish with the four automatic qualifiers separated by just 0.68 seconds. In heat No. 2, LaSalle’s Tom Coyle and Upper Moreland’s Drew Magaha worked together to spread the field and cruise into the final on Saturday.
“I made sure that I got top 4 doing the least amount of work that I can,” Coyle said of his eased-up heat winning 4:18.49. “I talked to Drew before the race, and he said, ‘Let’s take it out (and) kind of slow down the pace a little bit so we can really do well (Saturday). We executed our race plan perfectly.”
Kiski Area’s Brent Kennedy was not far behind the lead duo, making it through by doing some quick math throughout.
“I was counting heads, trying to get in there to fourth place,” the sophomore said of his approach in advancing to the metric mile final after anchoring the Cavaliers to a spot in the 4x800 relay final. “It took a lot of effort though.”
Alec Kunzweiler of Cumberland Valley won the second heat of the 800 in AAA, leading seven other qualifiers across the line by being certain “nothing crazy happened.”
“I ended up going out about a half-second faster than I had hoped,” he said. “I really wanted to put myself in a top 3 position right off the start, just to make sure I wasn’t messing around and wasn’t caught back in the pack.
“The first lap was mainly staying off the rail and not getting boxed in and making sure I had enough room to go out if I needed to. Then the last lap, pick it up at 300 and just kept going, making sure I had enough room in the last 100 that nothing crazy happened – like four guys didn’t pass me and then you miss it.”
Odds and Ends...
“It definitely was a season goal. I definitely wanted to get in the 47s. I’ll take a 47.7.” – Oliver Philogene, Seneca Valley of his 47.77 prelim victory in the AAA 400 dash.
“Last year after I got third, I wasn’t really satisfied so I started literally the Sunday after the state meet. I’ve been working throughout the year, even through basketball season, with my coach. He was helping rain, sleet, sunshine. He never gave up on me.” Rachel Fatherly of Williamsport about the key to her 46 feet, 9.5 inch victory in the AAA shot put. “He reconstructed my technique, and we did strength training during the summer. It helped me to become more explosive.”
“I was feeling it, but it just got away,” Kyle Long of Hempfield said of difficulties keeping a solid grip on the discus despite defending his AAA title. “I hate to waste a day, but I still came out with a 189, which is alright. That’s not bad for me. I’ll take it. I still got it done, but I’ve had better days.”
“From personal experience and seeing other girls, I know it’s more intimidating if you can make on your first attempt,” senior Taylor Morgan of Upper Dublin said of needing only one jump at each height through her winning leap of 5 feet, 7 inches. “A lot of girls were missing stuff. It was a very messy competition. I definitely strive to make on my first attempt.”