Kady's Stories: Redemption, perseverance and just plain talent.


Photos by Don Rich, Patty Morgan, Kathy Leister, Megan Clugh, Bill Shearn, Bill Ledgett



A short story with a happy ending.

SHIPPENSBURG – On Friday, the wind picked up as the PIAA Class AAA girls’ javelin got underway. However, the conditions did not seem to effect freshman Madison Wiltrout, who finished in first place with an outstanding throw of 151-1. 

Those in the crowd, it seemed, were astounded not only with an impressive throw, but also that it was achieved off only a five-step approach. 

Wiltrout later explained, somewhat embarrassingly, that the first time she threw the javelin she used a longer approach and fell flat on her face on the runway. 

She learned from the experience. 

However, her stride was shortened as a result this year, which made her focus more on her mechanics. 

Wiltrout said she plans on lengthening her approach in the future, since gaining more momentum will help her to throw farther. 

But for the time being, she said, she can be happy with the result. 

Wiltrout, who is a four-sport athlete in basketball, softball, soccer, and track, recognizes that what she does in other sports helps her to prepare for the javelin. 

The freshman began her track and field career as a jumper, but she believes she’s found her niche in the field events. Over the next three years, Wiltrout says, she hopes to continue improving while also having goals of defending her title.





Lewis puts monkey on his back to rest.

SHIPPENSBURG – After a disappointing performance in the shot put at the indoor state meet in February at the PTFCA Indoor Track Championships at Lehigh University in February, Luke Lewis, a senior from Hickory, came hungry for the win on Friday at the PIAA Class AA track and field championships at Shippensburg University. 

His hunger was satiated as the senior became state champion in the shot put with a throw of 161-8.25. 

Hickory, with a phenomenal throws program, has continued to produce state champions year after year. Lewis, however, had fallen short the past two years. 

Lewis said Friday that he was ready to perform at the indoor state meet in February, but things just didn’t come together. This experience drove his desire to win even more, and in the months following he dusted himself and got back to work. 

Heading into the outdoor state championships at Shippensburg University, the pressure was on. So, Lewis said, to come out and throw 59-8.5 on his first throw took some of the pressure off. Lewis was confident that he had the win in the bag. 

As it turned out, he was correct. Everything finally came together for the senior, who will continue his career in the fall at Purdue University. What’s more is that Lewis credits all of his success to his coach, who calls Lewis him one of the best throwers in the nation.

“We don’t have a lot of talent, but he develops the talent,” Lewis said of his coach. “He takes what he has and makes great throwers out of them.”

The senior says he hopes to improve his throwing at Purdue. 


YouTube student aces triple jump final.


SHIPPENSBURG – Sometimes, fate works in your favor. 

Huntingdon Area junior Kobren Frederick entered the PIAA Class AA boys’ triple jump as the fifth seed. 

He didn’t expect to win. 

But to his surprise on Friday, he walked away with a state championship after a leap of 46-2.25. 

What’s more amazing, though, is the fact that Frederick doesn’t even have a coach. Instead, he’s consulted YouTube in learning how to jump.

Frederick, tall and lanky, began high school playing volleyball. He quickly discovered that volleyball was not his calling and asked the triple jump coach at his school at the time if he could join the track team late in the season. 

Frederick described his experience his freshman year as a “hot mess.” 

However, in his sophomore year things began to fall into place. During this time, he said, Frederick and his father Kenneth became students of YouTube. 

And because there was no coach, Kenneth played a large role in his training, as he was constantly researching different techniques. 

Because of his father’s help, Frederick qualified for states his sophomore year. While his performance at the 2013 state meet did not put him in contention for a medal, it fueled his fire to come back stronger and more prepared for his junior campaign. 

His hard work paid off as he became state champion for his school, locating in the small town of Huntingdon, with just 7,000 residents.

The junior said he hopes to repeat in 2015. No word on whether YouTube will help him get there, or not. 


Virgo Deja vu.

SHIPPENSBURG – Fleetwood junior Cyre Virgo, the PIAA Class AAA girls’ high jump state champion on Friday after leaping to a height of 5-9, spoke of how basketball aided in keeping her in shape over the winter months. 

It also gave her good practice in jumping. 

Cyre’s high school, Fleetwood, permitted her to participate in two sports over the winter months, which included basketball and indoor track.  

But because of her commitment to basketball in the winter, there was not an adequate amount of time for her to prepare for the indoor season. 

With only one practice, focusing on technique and rhythm behind her, she went into her first indoor meet, at the Millersville High School Invitational in April, and jumped 5-9. 

Moving to the outdoor season, Virgo become more confident with her jumping, hitting a height of 5-10 in a dual meet. 

The junior described the meet at Millersville as being a big confidence boost as she jumped 5-10 once again and was well over the bar. 

This was the meet where she realized that she had the potential of being state champion for the second year in a row, as she left the state meet in 2013 with a gold medal. 

With one more year to come, hopefully Virgo can go for a third gold medal rounding off what will be a stellar career.







McCartney toes line and wins again.


SHIPPENSBURG – Selinsgrove junior Courtney McCartney, the top seed in the PIAA Class AAA girls’ shot put, walked away with a championship on Friday. The junior thrower uncorked a throw of 49-0.25, a personal record by almost two feet.  

It came on the heels of another monster throw. 

Hickory junior Elena Marchand, the second seed entering the event, set the tone by heaving a mark of 43-3.50, which came in the first flight.

While one could assume that her winning throw was in response to that of Marchand’s, McCartney said she wasn’t paying much attention to how others were performing. 

Instead, she said, she came into the meet with her own expectations. 

Even before the state championships, McCartney overcame adversity in the offseason, when she had surgery on her toe. 

However, she said, with perseverance and her coach’s support she worked through the injury, becoming stronger in the weight room. Everything came together on Friday as McCartney said she peaked at just the right time.

What makes McCartney such a fierce competitor, she says, is her desire to win. 

She expressed her disappointment with her third-place performance at the Penn Relays in late April. In reality, she said, it was the moment that defined her season. 

Just three years into her career at Selinsgrove, she has earned two state titles, as well as claiming the US#6 ranking. 

The junior is confident she will be back again next year to defend her title.


Central Bucks South leaves little doubt (and quite a record to beat).

SHIPPENSBURG – As Central Bucks South anchor leg Brianna Stratz powered down the home stretch of the PIAA Class AAA girls’ 3,200 relay on Saturday, she could hear the sound of the roaring crowd.

And as she crossed the finish, there was something more. The clock flashed 8:51.49, which broke the previous all-time state record of 8:55.43 set in 2011 by West Chester Henderson.

The team, consisting of seniors Kaitlin Poiesz and Alexa Kwapinski and juniors Amber Stratz and Brianna Stratz, entered states with the primary goal of winning the title.

They knew that if they could win, they said, they would have an opportunity to break the record.

After two very strong efforts from the first and second legs, Kwapinski took the handoff and did one better, finishing her 800 ahead of the field.

She gave one last handoff to Brianna Stratz, who later explained how important it was to keep the lead for her teammates.

She did just that, bringing the team’s efforts to the finish line with an impressive split of 2:09.

However, it wasn’t the first time Central Bucks South had claimed a 3,200 relay record.

In 2009, the Central Bucks South boys’ team set the boys' PA all-time record of 7:33.48.

Who says girls’ can’t do everything boys can?


Promise made. Promise kept.

SHIPPENSBURG – There wasn’t even a question. Lake Lehmen sophomore Dominic Hockenbury had this race sealed and delivered early.

Hockenbury claimed the PIAA Class AA boys’ 3200 title Saturday with a winning time of 9:17.18. He finished 14 seconds ahead of runner-up William Kachman of Bedford.

How did he gain such a substantial lead over the rest of the field?

After burning through 1600 meters in 4:37, Hockenbury dropped a 61-second lap on the very next 400 that put him ahead of the field.

After the race, the sophomore spoke of the 2013 PIAA Track and Field State Championships.

“Last year my training partner Kieran Sutton -- now running for Shippensburg University -- and I both wanted to go for a medal,” Hockenbury said. “We both just missed it.”

But not making it to the medal stand in 2013 served as motivation for the sophomore to train harder, he said, along with the promise he made to Sutton that he would return as a senior.

Hokenbury is a man of his word. The sophomore did not expect to be at the top so soon in his career, he said, but hopes he can return to defend his title in 2015.





Chikotas learns from experience. First is much nicer than second.


SHIPPENSBURG – She turned her mind off and turned on her speed.

Saucon Valley senior Elizabeth Chikotas returned to the PIAA Class AAA 3200 with one goal in mind: to walk away with a state title.

After finishing second a year ago to St. Marys Area’s Adair Gennocro, Chikotas decided on a different strategy for this year’s race.

Instead of pushing the pace right off the line, she said, she would sit back and run conservatively through six laps.  

True to form, with 800 meters to go, the Penn State commit broke away, out legging Vincentian Academy’s Marianne Abdalah and Elk County Catholic’s Victoria Dippold.

“Coming into the race I didn’t really feel confident,” Chikotas said. “It wasn’t until the last two laps that the confidence really came.”

Once she made her break, there was no turning back. The senior cruised to the finish line in a time of 10:36.65. It was just five seconds off the PIAA Class AA record of 10:31.85.

“Once I broke away I felt really good, but looking back I am a little disappointed I didn’t make a move sooner,” Chikotas said of her race.

Even though she fell short of setting a new PIAA record, the senior said she is very pleased with how she finished her 3200 campaign.






Johnson side-steps injury for Silver in long jump.


SHIPPENSBURG – A true test of fortitude is what the 2014 outdoor track season turned out to be for senior long and triple jumper Greg Johnson of Schuylkill Valley.

Tearing both his ACL and LCL in the beginning of the season during the triple jump, Johnson understood the road to recovery would be long.

But he knew that despite this obstacle, he had to remain positive and train to the best of his ability if he had any chance of getting back to PIAA Class AAA state meet.  

Johnson, who wore a custom brace encompassing his leg, was able to do just that, pulling out a long jump of 22-0.25, which was good enough for second place.

Johnson entered the state meet with a jump of 21-06 from the District 3 meet.

“I had to go through districts with a brace that wasn’t extremely comfortable,” Johnson said. “ I just received my custom brace two days ago.”

While the senior acknowledged his injury affected his performance, he was still satisfied with a second-place finish, considering all he went through to get there in the first place.






Quigley overcomes hurdle to earn two medals (in hurdles)

SHIPPENSBURG – Pine-Richland junior Kat Quigley had to go through a lot of controversy in order to participate at states this season.

On Saturday, she captured a second-place performance in the PIAA Class AAA girls’ 300 hurdles in a time of 43.95 seconds and a fifth-place effort in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.55.

But at the District 7 meet in mid May, Quigley was disqualified for allegedly impeding another runner with a stray hurdle.

The judgment was later overruled and Quigley was able to keep her District 7 medal and advance to the state meet, even setting a school record with the effort.

Still, when Quigley first heard of the judgment, she was crushed. How could they do this, she thought.

However, it made her angry enough to use it as fuel and motivation for her other events. Quigley also ended up qualifying for the 100-meter hurdles.

Walking away from states, Quigley can breathe a sigh of relief.










Davison breaks five for first time during indoor, and breaks through to elite during outdoor.


SHIPPENSBURG – A year ago, North Allegheny's Madeleine Davison walked into a stacked PIAA Class AAA girls’ 3200 field and left with an eleventh place performance, outside the medal stand.

It was an improvement, but it wasn’t what she wanted.

On Saturday, things changed.

With a new year came a new event and new success as she secured a second-place medal in the girls’ 1600 meter run with a time of 4:47.06.

Entering the race, Davison was seeded second behind Brianna Schwartz of Shaler Area, who was the 2014 PTFCA indoor state champion (and new indoor state all-time record holder)  in the mile.

As the event took off, Davison was surprised to find herself so close to Schwartz.

“I just wanted to go out there and see how fast I could run,” Davison said. “It unnerved me a little to be running so close to such a fantastic runner.”

She described how her indoor season gave her more confidence and a better understanding of her capabilities.

Before the beginning of the 2014 indoor season, Davison had not broken the five-minute mark in the mile, but did so upon running her first indoor meet.

She credits her great improvement, from freshman to sophomore year, to increased mileage, paying close attention to the details, and having the camaraderie of other talented competitors in District 7.