PIAA Feature: Strong winds provide tricky conditions for athletes on day 1

If anyone is looking for a prime location for a wind turbine, they should check out Seth Grove Stadium during the state track and field championships.

For the second time in three years, strong winds blew through the PIAA championships, causing many to pause and decide the best way to beat Mother Nature.

“You are trying to wait but you only have so much time," senior Hanna Pitchford of Serra Catholic said after a lengthy pause on her second attempt in the AA discus. "You are like how can I throw it so it goes through the wind and doesn't get deterred by the wind. It's nerve-racking."

A first-time state qualifier, Pitchford said she faced the windy conditions on each of her three times into the circle en route to 15th place.

Inside the stadium, Kaitlyn Toman of Salisbury Township was mulling what adjustments to make as she pursued state gold in the AA pole vault.

"The wind was kind of swirling a little bit today," the senior said. "When we got here, they debated for a while whether to turn (the pit) or not. They said (the wind) was supposed to shift at some point in the day so they left it and I was like 'No.'

"It ended up getting a little bit better. It was a little bit of a crosswind which is not as bad as a headwind but still wasn't the best conditions to jump in."

Forced to make changes in an approach that had been rock solid all week, Toman wasn't able to match last week's 12-foot, 4-inch vault to win District 11. However, she left the stadium as a state champion after clearing 11-6.

A winner who actually flourished in the gusty weather was standout thrower Jordan Geist of Knoch. His flat throws were no match for the breezes as he was the AAA discus champ with a PR of 186-2.

"The wind is actually not favorable, but it's favorable for how he throws the discus ... nice and flat," said Mike Hambrick, Geist's coach and longtime family friend. "And his power was amazing today. You could see it. It was more than anybody else here had."