On a day when many in Pennsylvania were asking if a rodent saw its shadow – he didn’t, by the way – Hickory junior Luke Lewis stepped into the spotlight and cast a huge presence over a Tri-State Coaches meet that featured numerous PA top 10 performances.
Lewis’ opening effort with the 12-pound ball was good enough to win by almost 3 feet, but he was far from finished. He moved into the No. 2 spot in the state on his next effort and unleashed a new PA#1 bomb in round 6, a put of 59 feet, 1.5 inches that is also good for US#6.
“Yes and no,” Lewis said when asked if he has been surprised by his indoor success. “You work really, really hard so you want to hit that mark, but you don’t know if you will. When you hit it, it’s really, really nice.
“Last week I hit 60 feet (at Youngstown State), but I fouled it barely. This week I was coming back and hopefully get it out. I worked really hard this week.”
A year ago, Lewis toiled in the shadow of Matt Bell, who won state indoor and outdoor titles before grabbing gold at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals with a school-record heave of 61-7. Lewis finished his 2012 season in seventh at Shippensburg and was the only non-senior in the Class AA top 10.
On Saturday, the winner shredded his bests from 2012 and this season. In addition to tacking 2 feet on to his season best and former PR of 57-0.75, Lewis had four of his five legal throws check in longer than his best toss from 2012 of 56-0.75.
“Matt Bell was amazing,” Lewis said of his former teammate. “He was one of those people that would push you and push you. I worked my (rear end) off because of him just so I could beat him last year. This year, I just want to beat his record, of course.”
According to his coach, Lewis is closing in on 60 feet for two simple reasons – plenty of hard work and no fear of competition.
“He never quits,” Hickory throws coach Keith Woods said of his new top performer. “He is the first one to practice, he’s the last one to leave. I’ve spent many, many, many hours long past when everybody else left and he’s still working on something. He is a good worker. He does exactly what we have in line for him to do.
“And he excels toward his competition. He knew that Max (Adams of Hempfield Area) was going to throw really well, which he did. He just couldn’t stay in (the circle). (Luke) always is a gamer.”
Green’s Inside Sprint Tops on the Track
Hanna Green of Greater Latrobe was quick in the 400-meter dash in the first meet of 2013 inside the Edinboro University bubble. Yesterday, she found a way to circle the 236.621-meter oval just a little faster.
Despite drawing the inside lane, the Virginia Tech recruit was unchallenged in dropping her 2013 best under 57 seconds as her 56.99 clocking was just 0.02 seconds off the state lead. Her sprint is still worth PA#2 and US#14.
“I don’t like it,” the winner said of her lane assignment. “Last year at states and nationals I was in lane 1, and I hated it. I don’t really like it.”
Shaler Area’s Brianna Schwartz also spent a lot of time in the inside lane in securing two distance wins. With a pair of training partners sharing some of the workload, Schwartz covered the mile in PA#4 5:03.05, holding off Mary Malone of North Hills (PA#5 5:04.45) and Gina Alm of Hampton (PA#7 5:09.13).
“Going into the mile we wanted to get a good time, get around 5 minutes so we were happy with that,” the sophomore said. “I’ve been training with (Mary and Gina) so it’s fun to race with them.”
In the 3,000, Schwartz broke away from the field early on and was alone against the clock. Her pacesetting proved better than planned, with her winning time of 10:18.90 checking in at PA#5 and more than 30 seconds ahead of the field.
“It was pretty hard,” Schwartz said of the difficulty of the indoor distance double. “I wasn’t sure what my time would be coming into the 3K. I wanted to get a good workout on my legs and finish strong.
“My coach gave me my splits for each lap. I guess when I heard him tell me that just motivated me to go faster on the next lap.”
Emily Lelis of Springdale had a pair of fast finishes in the 60 hurdles, hitting the state top 10 in the prelims at 9.42 before running PA#3 8.97 in the final. Hempfield Area’s Jasmine Jones dominated the 60 and 200 dashes, sprinting to a T-PA#6 time of 7.84 and a 25.91.
After finishing third to Green in the 400, Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner ran an indoor best in the 800, blasting the field with a PA#2, US#17 2:15.86. Alm (2:19.96) and Bethel Park’s Amanda Ruschel (2:19.99) were pulled along to strong finishes.
In the girls shot, Rachel Fyalkowski of Hempfield Area held off Sophia Fustos of Hickory as the duo combined for 10 throws over 37-5.5. Fyalkowski became the second in PA over 40 feet this year, moving to PA#2 with a 40-1 toss, while Fustos had two throws that measured 39-4 and Butler’s Ava Bonetti hit a PA#9 37-11.
Also in the field, Malik Moffett of Cathedral Prep matched his PR in winning the boys high jump. Entering the competition at 6-1, the senior needed just one attempt each at his opening height and 6-3. A second-attempt clearance of 6-5 was good for the victory over Darnae Clemons of Indiana Area.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” Moffett said of his lofty opening height. “It felt good.”
For the girls, India McCoy of Ambridge Area cleared 5-5 to finish ahead of five other high jumpers over 5-1, while Brooke Mancuso of North Allegheny finished atop a logjam at 11-0 to win the pole vault.
Lydia Dennis of Mars Area was a double winner, with her 17-3 long jump leading a trio over 17 and her PA#3 37-4.5 claiming the triple jump. Sidney Black of Norwin was second at 36-9, while Anna Chodubski of McDowell had a PA#8 36-1 effort.
Other top winners were Ryan Smathers of North East, who took the lead with about 300 meters to go en route to a PA#8 1:59.41 in the boys 800. Fox Chapel Area’s Martin brothers claimed the other distance races, with Ethan slipping past South Park’s Tyler Rigby in the final strides as a PA#8 4:24.61 beat a PA#10 4:24.72 and Colin leading a trio under 9:06 with a 9:00.30 win in the boys 3,000.
Nick Conway of Port Allegany is now PA#7 after an 8.32 win in the 60 hurdles. Tyrell Jones of Woodland Hills ran a T-PA#6 6.99 in the 60 dash, while Jae'Len Means led a 1-2 Gateway finish in the 200 with a T-PA#5 22.63. Penn Hills’ Robin Hall was clocked in 50.12 to go to PA#5 in the 400, while Hempfield Area’s Sherman West was second in a PA#6 time of 50.49.
Penn Hills turned in the only state top 10 relay effort with a PA#8 1:32.89 for the victory in the boys 4x200. Five cleared 13-0 in the pole vault as Nick Anderson of Kane Area bested Kolby Koeck of Altoona, with the top pair both good over 14-0. Meanwhile, PA#3s won the horizontal jumps for the boys, with Isaiah Brooks of Woodland Hills going 22-10.75 in the long jump and De’lorian Day of Hempfield covering 45-6 to win the triple.