It was snowy and cold outside, but it was scorching hot inside at the Ashenfelter Center for a Sunday special edition of the PTFCA Indoor State Championships! The athletes were on fire all day from the first race all the way to the very last race, and we had a state record, several US#1s, and a few very tight finishes!
We had one PA All Time State Record and it was set by someone who already had it. Sam Ritz of Germantown Academy went head to head with Kevin James of Cardinal O'Hara in the mile. With three laps to go, Ritz went into another gear that no one was going to be able to keep up with. Ritz's third quarter split was 61 seconds, which set himself up for a strong finish and a state gold medal with a time of 4:09.56! His time breaks the old record he set 3 weeks ago of 4:10.50 by nearly a full second! Ritz's time is now US#5! James ran 4:12.57 or US#11.
Ritz was hoping to make it 2-for-2 with gold medals with a victory in the 800 meter run against John Lewis of Cheltenham and Elias Graca of Fox Chapel. Lewis went straight to the front, going through the first 200 meters in 25 seconds and the first 400 meters in 52 seconds. That pace proved to be too much for Ritz and Graca to handle. Lewis set a lifetime best in the indoor 800 and came within an eye lash of the state record set last year. His time of 1:50.57 is PA#2 all time and US#1 for 2015! Graca's 1:50.86 is now US#2, and Ritz's 1:51.79 is US#3!
The boys 3000 started off slow, as no one was very interested in pacing the 15 lap journey. But then Dominic Hockenbury of Lake Lehman had enough of sitting around and he made a big move after 1200 meters. The move similarly resembled the move he made to break away from the pack in the AA 3200 meter run last May to win his first career state gold medal. The move was looking to have the same result as last May, as Hockenbury managed to hold on his established lead. Then late on, Matt McGoey of North Allegheny made a run for Hockenbury after it appeared that he was out of it. McGoey then made a dramatic late move on the home stretch the snatch the title away from Hockenbury with a time of 8:35.53 to win by nearly a second over the gutsy AA state cross country champion.
The short sprints were dominated by Christian Brissett of Cheltenham. Brissett successfully defended his 60 meter dash championship by holding off Charles Headen of Lasalle to win in 6.82, just .02 seconds off the state meet record. His performance puts him at US#6 for 2015. Later, he earned another victory in the 200 meter dash, making up for the 8th place finish he had a year ago. His time of 21.88 was just slightly faster than the season best he set in December, but it was enough for him to win his first career 200 meter gold medal.
He then joined his Cheltenham teammates in two dominant sprint relay performances that epitomized their season. In the 4x200 meter relay, Cheltenham was off to the races, running 1:28.81 for the gold medal. In their specialty relay, the 4x4, Cheltenham were never in any real danger to an upset, leading from start to finish to put the icing on the cake of a fantastic meet, running 3:20.27.
In the 60 meter hurdles, Mitch Valko of South Fayette became the only hurdler in the state of PA to break the 8 second mark, overcoming the 1-2 punch of Mason Weh and Akeim Thomas of Upper Darby, matching every move they made to win the gold medal in 7.98!
In the 400 meter dash, Charles Snorweah of Pennsbury was thrown in as the favorite after John Lewis of Cheltenham neglecting to run the 400. After a 49.60 from Tyler Whitmore of Upper Moreland in heat 4 of 5, Snorweah had it all to do to get the gold medal he strived for. A slow start to the race put the gold medal in doubt, but a strong finish did just enough to snag the gold medal by .04 seconds, running 49.56.
In the 4x800 meter relay, Pennsbury had to grind out a victory in their specialty relay, with defending champions State College and Penncrest nipping at their heels. But Alek Sauer was able to remove the possibility of an upset by pulling away in a big way in the final 200 meters to secure the championship in 7:51.77, their 3rd time under 7:53 this season.
The distance medley relay was a battle for the first 3 legs, until Conestoga gave their anchor Andrew Marston a good lead to start the final leg. But within 2 laps, the rest of the field, including Kevin James of Cardinal O'Hara, caught up, and then James took over. James started in 3rd place and by the 2nd half of the anchor leg, he was all alone in front, as he split 4:15 to lead Cardinal O'Hara to the state title in 10:21.88, good for US#4!
In the field events, it was upset city in both the long and triple jump, as top seed Isaiah Brooks of Woodland Hills struggled all day and had to settle for a 2nd and a 3rd place finish in his respective events. The long jump title went to Saahir Bethea of Cheltenham, as he managed to put his struggles behind him and pull off a gold medal win by five inches of Isa Paschall 22-10 to 22-5. Paschall would rebound nicely in his main event, the triple jump, as he had his best indoor triple jump performance of his career, jumping 47-6.25 to win his first career gold medal.
As for the other boys field events, the favorites did what everyone expected they do, and that's win. Ryan Wilkes of Valley View won the pole vault with a clearance of 15-6. After he clinched the title, he made a go for the meet record 16-4, but he missed on all three attempts. Chris Stone of Springfield Montco may have lost out on defending his pole vault title, but the Auburn bound athlete did defend his title in the high jump as the only athlete to clear 6-6 in the competition.
In the shot put, fans got to see Jordan Geist of Knoch compete, some of them for the first time. Despite one foul, Geist had his five other throws break the 60 foot mark, with his best on the day being 64-11.50, winning the competition by nearly 10 feet!
Cheltenham cruised to the team championship with an impressive score of 74 points, led by six gold medal performances!