Meet feature and photos by Phil Grove
Everybody SAYS that records are made to be broken. So if you are going to break a record, why not do it in such a way that everybody KNOWS that a record really was broken.
Max Adams and Brianna Schwartz did just that Friday at the 41st Baldwin Invitational, demolishing meet standards with performances worthy of the 2014 national top 10. A handful of PA#1s also were thrown in for good measure as all eyes have started to turn toward Shippensburg.
A senior, Adams is now US#6 in the boys’ discus after uncorking a heave of 192 feet, while Shaler Area’s Schwartz made the girls’ 3,200-meter record her own with a solo run of 10 minutes, 10.03 seconds that just missed the all-time state record.
Fast start, strong finish fuels Schwartz
Armed with a race strategy that would take her through 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, Schwartz tore into the night and ahead of the pack at seemingly breakneck speed. As it turns out, the opening 200 was faster than planned (33 seconds) as the distance standout had to take her foot off the accelerator a little and settle back into a pace that few in the country have matched this season.
“I definitely took it out a little too fast, but I felt relaxed and calm so I just got back to my pace after that,” the junior said. “I felt good for the first mile, but it kind of caught up to me in the second mile. I just hung in there, and I was able to get my best time so I was happy.”
Covering the opening lap in just over 70 seconds, the Shaler Area standout brought her pace back into line with pre-race expectations and hit the 800 in 2:27, 3:44 and the metric mile in 5:01. Schwartz was almost nine seconds ahead of the duo of Mary Malone of North Hills and Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian Academy after just two laps and 21-plus seconds up after four circuits.
“I knew that she was going to go out really hard so I knew that she wasn’t even going to be in the race,” said Malone, who was locked in another duel with the freshman Abdalah. “We wouldn’t even worry about her.”
With the crowd now fully behind her, Schwartz continued to race through the field as the all-time state record of 10:09.2 by State College’s Martha White started to come into view. Racing past lapped runners, Schwartz hit the line just shy of the 1978 statewide record but annihilated the meet record of 10:25.7 set in 1990 by former Baldwin and Villanova star Carole Zajac.
“Not only is breaking a record just a great feeling, but to know how great of a runner that Carole Zajac was is really humbling to know that I accomplished what she did,” Schwartz said of making history once again.
Giving chase behind Schwartz was Malone, who broke away from her running partner at the midpoint and embarked on a PR effort in a rare one-race meet.
“This is the first time I have run it fresh EVER,” proclaimed Malone, who is now PA#4 after her 10:41.99 clocking as the runner-up.
“And it felt really good. My legs felt really fresh and good. I felt good the whole time and strong.
“I wanted to break 10:50 because I have never done that. So I’m happy with it.”
Abdallah finished third in a PA#7 10:49.10.
Finals secure, Adams puts name in record book in prelims
Hempfield Area’s Adams has thrown well before at Baldwin, hitting a near-record 187-2 as the winner of the discus in the 2013 invitational. He also has won a pair of WPIAL titles at the venue.
Friday’s competition was on a higher level for the senior as he surpassed the old meet record of 187-9 by Connellsville’s Rodney Richter not once but twice and hit the national elite.
“I already knew I was going to get into finals with (170-3), so my coach (Dave Murray) goes, “You have five throws. Just try to do the best you can.’ So I just tried to kill it with my last throw (of prelims).”
The winner followed his opener with a foul before he rocketed to the top of the state rankings and to US#6 with his 192-0 effort. In the finals, he exceeded his previous season best on all three throws, hitting for 179-8, 190-3 and 185-10 to now have three of the four longest throws in the state this season.
“It’s the best day I’ve had in a long time,” proclaimed Adams, who finished almost 30 feet ahead of the field.
However, his performance in the discus was just the second half of a stellar afternoon at Baldwin. Moments before the discus final, Adams was locked in a shot put battle that featured all three of the state’s 60-footers thus far in 2014 – Adams, Hickory’s Luke Lewis and Knoch freshman Jordan Geist.
“I knew I was going to have to throw far because Jordan Geist and Luke Lewis are phenomenal throwers,” Adams said. “I knew I was going to have to throw far to beat them. I just had to get prepared and make sure I had my form down.”
Lewis’ opening throw of 58-9 held up for five full rounds, but the Purdue recruit continued to improve. His next four throws showed amazing consistency as the heaves were only separated by 7 inches and averaged 61-2, covering 60-10, 61-5, 61-1 and 61-4. The state leader closed out the proceedings with another 58-9.
Entering the finals at 55-7, Adams improved his way into the runner-up position and past 60 feet for the second time this season. His final throw covered 60-1, while Geist finished third at 56-1.
Gateway’s Montae Nicholson put up a pair of season-best efforts in his individual wins. A new PA#1 14.15 clocking in the 110 hurdles came despite a less-than-stellar semifinal race that put him in lane 2 and a false start that the field was unable to react to until it had run more than half of the distance.
Self-discipline (and) composure, my mom preaches that if something goes wrong you have to stay composed,” the Michigan State recruit said of his ability to overcome the obstacles to a state-leading time. “Anything can happen. Good or bad, you have to get through it.
“It gave me a little bit more drive. My prelims and semis gave some other people some hope because my steps weren’t that good. I crashed a few hurdles. It kind of gave me some fuel just knowing that other people were looking forward to me not running that well.”
In the long jump, Nicholson was equally as dominating although the senior’s opener was by far his shortest leap as it covered only 20-3.25. He quickly hit full stride and was in the lead heading into the finals as he stretched out to 22.4.25 and 22-10.5.
However, his prelim jumps couldn’t hold a candle to his trips down the runway later in the day. The eventual winning jump and new PA#1 of 24-3.5 in round 4 was followed by marks of 23-9.5 and 23-11.
A new PA#1 also came from the girls’ long jump, but that was just a part of a high-quality day turned in by Hempfield Area’s Maddie Holmberg. Opening with a state-leading 18-10, the junior came back with another PA leader at 19-1.
“I just fixed my form this week,” Holmberg said. “So this was my first meet that I had been able to compete with my new technique and new form. I’m happy with where it’s going.”
She also excelled in the 100 hurdles, running a PR 14.55 in qualifying before staving off Shaler Area’s Tori Soeder, 14.64 to 14.68.
“Tori’s a great athlete,” she said of her competitor. “She pushed me a lot so I’m grateful for that because I don’t know what my time would have been if she hadn’t pushed me.”
Holmberg is now PA#7 in the hurdles, while Soeder moved to PA#9.
And finally, Holmberg ran the second leg in Hempfield’s 4x100 relay. The squad finished with a PA#2 48.08.