Amazing, incredible, unreal.
You can toss in spectacular, phenomenal and mind boggling as well. All are accurate descriptors with the initial three being the one’s bandied about the most by the throngs of bobble-headed spectators shaking their heads in disbelief or utter amazement of what they had just witnessed.
The what, of course, was Central Bucks South junior Tom Mallon’s state meet record 1:51.79 in the 800 meters. Mallon decimated the former state indoor meet mark of 1:53.53 set by Joe Plevelich of West Chester Henderson in 2001.
Sure, records get broken all the time, but Mallon’s jaw-dropping effort was something special, considering the quality of his competition and the margin by which he bested the field and the existing standard.
Runner-up Mike Palmisano of Upper Dublin, a multiple state medallist, is legit with Lamborghini-type speed of his own. He toed the starting line to Mallon’s immediate right as the second seed, and applied pressure throughout. Palmisano finished in 1:53.66, just .13 shy of the old record too.
But it was Mallon who stole the show en route to posting the fastest time in the nation this season. By the time he reached the bell lap Mallon seemed incapable of going any faster, yet he found two, three, maybe four more gears that his competition did not possess. It was like watching a stock car racing a field full of go-carts, which was hardly the case.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mallon returned to anchor C.B. South to victory in the 4x800. South’s time of 7:49.01 (US #2) just missed the state meet record of 7:48.99, set by North Penn’s highly decorated foursome a year ago. Unofficially, Mallon, who was joined by Jeff Dickson, Dave Manion and Matt Poiesz, anchored in 1:52.
As impressive as Mallon was, though, it was highly debatable if his was even the best performance of the day. Officially, that honor was bestowed upon Brady Gehret of Altoona, who was selected as the top male performer of the meet.
Hard to argue really.
Gehret stated his case by cruising to a relatively easy victory in the 200 (21.76) before blasting a 21.3 leg to overtake Penn Charter’s anchor on the final turn of the 4x200 (1:29.27), won by Altoona. For dessert, he closed out the meet by anchoring his foursome to victory in the 4x400 (3:20.34).
No truth to the rumor that he was also driving the team bus home, but thanks in large part to Gehret, Altoona, which won the 2008 outdoor championship, captured the indoor team title with 42 points over perennial powerhouse North Penn (29). Upper Dublin, Malvern Prep and Central Bucks South finished in a three-way tie for third with 24.
In one of the most dramatic finishes of the day, Chris Morrales of Abington overtook Altoona’s Aaron Nadolsky at the line to win the 400, 48.56 to 48.58.
Leading coming off the final turn, Nadolsky, a teammate of Gehret’s on both of Altoona’s winning relays, did everything he could to hold off Morrales, even easing into lane two as the pair headed for home, forcing Morrales wide. Both runners drove to the tape, leaned, then crashed to the surface, with Morrales emerging as the winner by a scant .02.
On paper the mile was equally as close with Friends’ Central’s Ivo Milic-Strkalj bettering runner-up Matthew McCullough of Malvern Prep 4:21.19 to 4:21.46.
In reality, McCullough won the first, and what was by seedtime, supposed to be the slower of two heats. As it turned out McCullough’s heat wound up producing four of the eight state medallists, after the second heat, won by Milic-Strkalj opened the door by lumbering through the 800 mark in a pedestrian 2:15.
One-of the pre-race favorites, T.J. Hobart of Baldwin, who was sure to benefit from a slow early race pace, had his hopes of a state title dashed when he crashed to the ground after being tripped up with about three laps to go.
Lower Merion teammates Neal Berman and Ben Furcht set a quick early pace in the 3000, only to watch unheralded Robert Micikas of Crestwood overtake Furcht (US #4, 8:36.17) on the final turn to win in a US #3 performance of 8:35.58.
In the DMR, Palmisano anchored Upper Dublin to a US #5 clocking of 10:19.83. As expected everyone else was running for second with St. Joseph’s Prep earning that honor with a season-best 10:28.77.
The highlight of the field events might have been the shot put, which featured a pair of 60-feet throws. Top seeded Wesley Lavong of Methacton held on to win with a season best (US #5) throw of 62-2. Connellsville’s Rodney Richter placed second (60-1.5)
Phoenixville’s Kyriq Williams outlasted North Penn’s Sean Gentry in the high jump. Both athletes cleared 6-8 with Williams claiming his title by virtue of fewer misses. Earlier in the day, Gentry won the long jump with a leap of 23-2.25, bettering PA leader Carlton Lavong (22-10), who has been nursing an ankle injury since midseason.
Cardinal O’Hara’s Jason Johnson overcame his season-long bout with a hip injury, taking the triple jump with a leap of 46-4.5.
Nathaniel Hensh of Laurel Highlands won the pole vault with a mark of 14-6.
Season-long PA sprint leader Romarr Mayne, of Reading, won the 60 dash in 6.87 while Wallace Spencer of Malvern Prep won the 60 hurdles with a time of 8.08.