4x800 Meter Relay
Entering the event, only 2014 runners up Wyomissing have broken 8 minutes (7:56.10), putting them right into the position of favorites. Kyle Shinn and Jack Dicintio give them the star power that will make them tough to beat. Shinn is a 2:00/4:19 800/1600 runner while Dicintio has 1:59/4:24 speed. Teams like Mercyhurst Prep (Sebastian Curtin), Mount Carmel (David Fletcher), and Masterman (Julian Degroot-Lutzner) have a star to help keep them in contention. Milton Area and Seneca join Mercyhurst Prep and Wyomissing as teams that have broken 8:06 this season. Matching the star power of Wyomissing will be the challenge for the chase pack to take down the division leaders.
110 Meter Hurdles
Luke Rarig of Southern Columbia was the only underclassman to make the finals in the AA high hurdles last season (3rd). This season, he has been the runaway top hurdler in the division, breaking 14.50 four times, with his latest performance being a lifetime best 14.28 at District 4. Tyler Burger of Northwest made the semifinals last season, but suffered from a false start. He has the 4th best time in the division at 14.87. Ian Nieves of Milton Area (14.70) and Morgan Ellis of Delco Christian (14.79) are in contention for a top 5 finish. Joseph Newton of Kane Area rounds out the sub 15 second performers in the event (14.96).
100 Meter Dash
The champ is back and this season the champ has yet to be knocked off his throne. Jahvel Hemphill of Bloomsburg has fought off all challengers so far and his enhanced dedication to the sport of track has resulted in a season that has lifted him to the top of the state rankings (10.59). Nkosi Pile of Church Farm School has been on a roll since May, running 10.85 to defeat a big group of top AAA runners at Henderson. 2014 bronze medalist Louis Berry of Shady Side Academy has run 10.87 and has only been defeated once this season. Ian Corbett of Clarion Area (5th) and Anthony Maurent of GAR Memorial (8th) are also returning medalists.
1600 Meter Run
This is the first of two title defenses for Dominic Peretta. The Beaver Falls junior will be defending both the 1600 and 800 titles and this is the first step. Peretta has improved from last year's personal best. He's run 4:15 for 1600 and 4:11 for a full mile. Griffin Molino of South Williamsport has emerged as a strong contender to the champion after running a division leading 4:14.70 to win District 4. Kyle Shinn of Wyomissing is the other sub 4:20 runner in the field (4:19.60). Sebastian Curtin of Mercyhurst Prep finished 2nd to Peretta last season by just 2 seconds and is back for another crack at the champ. The rest of last season's top five is also back. Out of that group, Simon Smith of Towanda looks the most likely to make a strong run at returning to the podium for a second time.
4x100 Meter Relay
The 4x100 meter relay is shaping up to be a tight battle between a close top 5. Aliquippa (42.67) and Imhotep (42.72) have the only two sub 43 second marks and will be favored to be near the top in the finals. Camp Hill will have Andrew Snyder on their team, and he had one of the best district meets in the division. Avonworth/Northgate lost to Aliquippa at District 7, and they will be looking for some payback. Springfield Montco have made it their calling card to be at their best at states, ran a strong 4x1 at District 1. May the best hand offs win!
400 Meter Dash
Andrew Snyder of Camp Hill has made himself the overwhelming favorite after recording a 48.04 performance at the District 3 championships. He's got almost ¾ of a second on the field. DeQual Isbell of Washington is a returning medalist (5th) and has run 48.77, the only other runner under 49 seconds. Kenny Baurle of Avonworth/Northgate was the 2014 runner up and has run 49.41 this season. Clay Stabolepsky of Schuylkill Valley (49.74), Wade Heidel of Milton Area (49.79), and Jahmair Craig of Delaware Valley Charter (49.91) are the other sub 50 second performers.
300 Meter Hurdles
Luke Rarig also has the best time in the 300 meter hurdles (38.57) and he will love to improve on the 8th place finish he had in the finals a year ago. But unlike the high hurdles, he is not the only returning medalist. Tyler Burger of Northwest was 3rd a year ago and has run 39.15 this season. Raheem Twyman of Elmer Myers was 6th in last year's finals and he the second of three sub 39 second performers on the season (38.75). The 3rd on that list is Morgan Ellis of Delco Christian at 38.94. These four are the only performers under 40 seconds. Rarig is the guy to catch at the moment, but the other three are right on his heels.
800 Meter Run
Dominic Peretta is truly in a league of his own in this event. His 1:51.50 is the 3rd fastest time in the state this season, and his nearest competitor is almost 4 seconds behind him. Julian Degroot-Lutzner of Masterman has the 2nd fastest time in the division (1:55.37), with Clay Stabolepsky of Schuylkill Valley (1:55.43) and 2014 4th place medalist David Fletcher of Mount Carmel (1:55.44) not far behind. To go from 1:55 to 1:51 will take a major jump into a different class, which will be the task required for those chasing the champion Peretta.
200 Meter Dash
Jahvel Hemphill is also on top of the list in the 200 meter dash. His 21.87 at district 4 puts him ahead of DeQuay Isbell of Washington (21.99). They may be the only sub 22 second 200 meter dash competitors, but they have some serious company. 2014 silver medalist Andrew Snyder of Camp Hill was on a tear at District 3 and should that momentum continue, he will be tough to beat. He's run 22.14 this season. Also in the mix is freshman Austin Kratz of Christopher Dock. Kratz has one victory over Hemphill at 200 meters at the Shippensburg Invite and he knocked off Nkosi Pile to win District 1. His best this season is 22.08. Kenny Baurle of Avonworth (4th), Logan Moroney of Karns City (6th) and Anthony Maurent of GAR Memorial (7th) are all returning medalists.
3200 Meter Run
Five of the seven medalists from the 2014 championship race are returning for another crack at the gold, including the defending champion Dominic Hockenbury of Lake Lehman. Hockenbury has come into his own in the past 12 months and has become a big favorite to repeat as champion. He rann 9:06.52 in one of the best non state 3200 meter races at Henderson. Weather permitting, the meet record of 9:04.09 has a good chance of going down.
Out to spoil the fun will be Griffin Molino of South Williamsport, the other sub 9:20 performer in the field (9:17.99). He struggled to a 6th place finish last season. Griffin Mackey of Sewickley has a 9:20.55 season best and has the ability to stay with the two ahead of him. Simon Smith of Towanda (9:28.37), Jack Dicintio of Wyomising (9:29.18), and 2014 silver medalist Will Kachman of Bedford (9:29.42) are the other sub 9:30 performers.
4x400 Meter Relay
Not much separates these teams, with the top ten teams all separated by just 3 seconds. Lakeland has the honor of holding the fastest time in the division at 3:24.18. Camp Hill and Andrew Snyder are on their heels at 3:24.55, with Schuylkill Valley (3:25.38), Wyomissing (3:25.53) Lancaster Mennonite (3:25.74) and Neumann Goretti (3:25.79) joining them. Lakeland and Wyomissing made the finals last year, with Lakeland finishing 4th and Wyomissing 6th.
Chris Stone of Springfield Montco is back to defend his title and he is once again the favorite to repeat as champion. Stone has cleared 6-8 this season, which is 2.5 inches over the field. The high jump has also been Stone's most consistent event despite injuries and sicknesses along the way. The group of three that have cleared 6-5 or better are senior Christian Riggle of Greenville, Brenton Harrison of Freedom (7), and freshman Noah Berry of Quaker Valley. Alex Brooks of Laurel is the other returning medalist from 2014 in the field (T-4th).
Stone also has a golden opportunity to win the pole vault championship. In last season's competition, Stone finished 2nd. But this time around, he has found his form in the event at the right time, setting a new district 1 meet record with a lifetime best 15-9 clearance. His best mark is a full foot better than the field, with 2014 4th place medalist Evan Lesnick of Riverview leading the chase pack at 14-9. 8th place medalist Danny Stoner of Biglerville has cleared 14-7 this season, while Ben Krouse of Northwest Area has cleared 14-3. With Stone running back and forth between the high jump and the pole vault during the final field event session of the meet, that could impact his attempts as the meet goes on, and that could open the door for his challengers.
Once again, Chris Stone will be one of the contenders during Saturday morning's event. He jumped a lifetime best 22-7.25 to win his district meet. He only trails best district performer and 7th place medalist Tre Tipton of Apollo-Ridge (22-11.50) and Jahmair Craig of Delaware Valley Charter (23-2.50). Brendan Sparr of Schuylkill Valley (22-1) and Alex Burns of New Brighton (22-0) are the other 22 foot plus jumpers in the field. Tyler Carter of Trinity Christian (4th) and Tyler Burger of Northwest (6th) are the other returning medalists.
The top ranked performer in the division did not qualify for the state meet, which has opened the door for a group of 45 foot jumpers. Defending champion Kobren Frederick of Huntingdon is back and has the best mark entering the meet at 45-11 on May 1. 4th place medalist Tyler Carter of Trinity Christian is right on his heels at 45-8.25, but finished 3rd at district 7. Anthony Milliner of New Brighton (45-3.50), Alex Burns of New Brighton and Jesse Romanchak of South Side (45-1.50) are the other 45 plus foot jumpers.
The Hickory duo of Evan Blaire and Austin Aikins have been tough for anyone to take down this season. Blaire has thrown 57-10.75 to win district 10 while Aikins was 2nd in 56-4. Aikins was the runner up in this event a year ago in a 1-2 finish for the team But this will be the first time they square off against the best thrower not named Jordan Geist. Joey Mundell of Schuylkill Valley finished behind Aikins at states a year ago, but this season he carries the best mark in the division at 59 feet. Mundell is unbeaten on the season and will have the edge of having a better mark over the Hickory pair. He has also thrown 57 feet or farther three times this season. Blaire has been consistent and improved on his best mark in his last 3 meets.
Austin Aikins is also the top returning medalist in the discus (3rd) and he has the 4th best mark in the division. 8th place medalist Dom Westbay of Shenango was the best performer at the district meets at 170-4 to win district 7. Thomas Peppernick of Fannett-Metal threw 169-1 to win the district 5 meet and has the 2nd best mark in the division. This will be his first state meet appearance. Behind him is Joey Mundell at 167-9. He made the finals last season but missed the medal stand. Joseph Armstrong of Lakeview has a season best 166-9 this season.
Michael Biddle of Williamsburg has been the best thrower in the division since day 1, picking up a Penn Relays watch and a 213-10 personal best along the way. Biddle was 3rd last season, but should be primed for the gold medal this time around over returning champion Matt Reinhart of Bethlehem Catholic. Hunter Watkins of Elk Lake (195-4) and Ethan Dabbs of Richland (192-6) are the closest contenders to Biddle. Chris Stone is also a returning medalist in this event (7th).