Hopes are high for track & field athletes from Eisenhower and Youngsville as the District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships loom on the horizon.
The 2013 version of the event will be see the local athletes competing a little closer to home as well. After traveling over two hours each way to Hickory for the past several seasons, the Eagles and Knights will need only to travel to Harbor Creek for Saturday's 9 a.m. competition.
The top two finishers in each event - as well as those meeting state qualifying times and distances - will advance to next weekend's District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships at Shippensburg University.
Eisenhower's Jake VanHouten
Youngsville's Rocco Gatta
Leading the D-10 Class AA contingent is the Ike girls team with 10 total athletes taking place. The Eisenhower boys feature nine athletes, the Youngsville boys eight more and the Lady Eagles will have five members of the team looking for a trip to states.
Perhaps the team set up to make the most noise is the Ike boys team. After completing an 8-1 regular season which saw them finish second in Region 2, the Knights have a pair of top seeds in Saturday's field.
Both of those number one seeds broke school records in 2013, including Jake VanHouten in the 300 hurdles and the 4X400 relay team of Matt Eernisse, Andrew Onoratti, Ben Perkins and VanHouten. VanHouten blazed through the 300 hurdles with a season-best time of 39.94 seconds. The 4X400 team's best time was 3:26.97. Both times would meet state qualifying specifications.
The top seeded Ike athletes are the only Knights seeded amongst the top five for Saturday, but those won't be the only Eisenhower Knights in competition.
Also qualifying for the Ike boys are Matt Eernisse (16th-100, 10th-400, 16th-200), Anthony Amroski (10th-1600, 8th-3200), Ben Perkins (21st-400, 10th-pole vault, 13th-triple jump), Tim Lange (20th-300 hurdles), Richard Knisley (23rd-300 hurdles, 11th-javelin), Devin VanGuilder (9th-3200), Andrew Onoratti (17th-long jump, 21st-triple jump) and VanHouten (23rd- long jump, 12th-triple jump). The Ike 4X800 relay team of Knisley, Cody McMillen, VanGuilder and Amroski is seeded 10th.
"We started the season very slow and it seems that as the year has gone on, the performances have gotten better and better," said Ike boys coach David Bauer. "Where the guys are at right now is great. If they perform at that level tomorrow, they have a nice chance of advancing. I have a hunch they may even outperform what they've done so far this year."
Leading the contingent of eight for the Youngsville boys will senior Rocco Gatta. Gatta qualified for states a year ago as a junior and has a pair of top five seeds to his credit for this year's competition. Gatta's highest seed is a third in the 400 and he is also seeded well in the 200 with a fourth. A busy Saturday for Gatta will also include the 100 where he is ranked 12th and the 4X100 relay with Mike Hamrick, Thomas Chapman and Andrew Tyers where Youngsville is seeded a strong fourth.
Chapman and Hamrick will compete in two additional events each after the 4X100 relay. Chapman is competing in both hurdles events where is seventh in the 110 and 22nd in the 300. Hamrick is 14th in the long jump and 19th in the triple jump.
Thrower Mitch Wilcox will also be pulling double duty where he is seeded fifth in the javelin and 19th in the shot put. Brother Nathan Wilcox is seventh in the javelin, Austin Mechling is ranked 13th in the discus and Andy Lalwani is 15th in the 300 hurdles.
"We haven't had the biggest group all year, but we've got some performers," said Youngsville boys coach Jeff Manelick. "Out of 14 team members, we're taking eight to districts which is great. Rocco is obviously in good position in the 400 and 200. He's going to have a busy day but that tells you what kind of year he's had.
"Hopefully everybody can have their best performance tomorrow and we'll see where everybody shakes out in the end."
The biggest local group participating on Saturday will be Mike Logue's Eisenhower girls team. The team's highest seed in any one event is eighth so it could be considered an uphill battle for the Lady Knights. However, Logue says the large number indicates the amount of success his team has had this regular season.
"Individually, the girls have had a very good season," said Logue. "We have a total of 10 girls going this year with six or seven of those in individual events. That's the most we've had in the last seven years. We tried to focus a little more on jumping this season and that really paid off with Bizz qualifying in the long jump, Holly making it in the triple jump and Apprille and Emily making it in the high jump.
"All we can do is go out there and look for personal bests. If they do that, we will end a great season on a high note."
The Lady Knights have a pair of eight seeds leading the way in high jumper Emily McJunkin and the schools' 4X800 relay team of Bizz Baran, Julia Bauer, Kate Daugharthy and Mollie Marsh. Bauer is also seeded 16th in the mile and 21st in the 800, Baran is 24th in the long jump and 27th in the 400 and the duo are also part of the Knights' 4X400 relay team with McJunkin and Apprille Seamens that is seeded 14th.
Also competing for the Ike girls are Seamens (15th-300 hurdles, 15th-high jump), Taylor Talasky (27th-200), Holly Chapman (24th-triple jump) and the 13th-seeded 4X100 relay team of Chapman, McJunkin, Tara Sleeman and Lacey Stanko.
Youngsville coach John Victor hopes his group of five Youngsville Lady Eagles can make a weekend to remember Saturday in Harbor Creek. While only five girls are making the trip, Victor says their regular season performances lead him to believe they can fare well against the best competition in D-10.
"We're excited because of the fact that we had so many girls qualify in individual events," said Victor. "We decided not to go the relay route this year and let the girls concentrate on their individual events. For such a small team to have so many individual qualifiers is really quite an accomplishment. Throwers, jumpers, runners, we have them all."
Abbie Swartzbaugh leads the Eagles with three qualifications, including a 10th seed in the high jump, a 12th seed in the 100 hurdles and a 13th seeding in the 300 hurdles. Teammate Kimmie Lindstrom will compete twice Saturday after earning a 13th seed in both the 400 and 800.
Mallory Eastman is ranked 12th in the 300 hurdles, Piper Olsen's strong season has her seeded 10th in the 3200 and Katelyn Hall is the 14th seeded competitor in the javelin.
Here are the complete list, along with seeds, for Youngsville and Eisenhower boys and girls track & field athletes competing at the District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships, beginning at 9 a.m., Saturday, at Harbor Creek High School:
2013 District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships
May 18, 2013
at Harbor Creek High School
3200 relay: 10. Eisenhower (Knisley, McMillen, VanGuilder, Amroski)
110 hurdles: 7. Chapman (Y)
100: 12. Gatta (Y), 16. Eernisse (E)
1600: 10. Amroski (E)
400: 3. Gatta (Y), 10. Eernisse (E), 21. Perkins (E)
400 relay: 4. Youngsville (Hamrick, Chapman, Tyers, Gatta)
300 hurdles: 1. VanHouten (E), 15. Lalwani (Y), 20. Lange (E), 22. Chapman (Y), 23. Knisley (E)
200: 4. Gatta (Y), 16. Eernisse (E)
3200: 8. Amroski (E), 9. VanGuilder (E)
1600 relay: 1. Eisenhower (Eernisse, Onoratti, Perkins, VanHouten)
Pole vault: 10. Perkins (E)
Long jump: 14. Hamrick (Y), 17. Onoratti (E), 23. VanHouten (E)
Triple jump: 12. VanHouten (E), 13. Perkins (E), 19. Hamrick (Y), 21. Onoratti (E)
Shot put: 19. M. Wilcox (Y)
Discus: 13. Mechling (Y)
Javelin: 5. M. Wilcox (Y), 7. N. Wilcox (Y), 11. Knisley (E)
3200 relay: 8. Eisenhower (Baran, Bauer, Daugharthy, Marsh)
100 hurdles: 12. Swartzbaugh (Y)
1600: 16. Bauer (E)
400: 13. Lindstrom (Y), 27. Baran (E)
400 relay: 13. Eisenhower (Chapman, McJunkin, Sleeman, Stanko)
300 hurdles: 12. Eastman (Y), 13. Swartzbaugh (Y), 15. Seamens (E)
800: 13. Lindstrom (Y), 21. Bauer (E)
200: 27. Talasky (E)
3200: 10. Olsen (Y)
1600 relay: 14. Eisenhower (Baran, Bauer, McJunkin, Seamens)
High jump: 8. McJunkin (E), 10. Swartzbaugh (Y), 15. Seamens (E)
Long jump: 24. Baran (E)
Triple jump: 24. Chapman (E)
Javelin: 14. Hall (Y)