HIGH SCHOOL TRACK: Southern Columbia boys capture District 4 title
SELINSGROVE - Southern Columbia surprised some people last year by winning the District 4 AA team title.
The Tigers maybe even surprised themselves by winning it again this year.
Paced by four individual champions, Southern outpointed Lewisburg, 83-65.5, for their second straight title, with Mount Carmel coming in third with 59 points.
The two area teams combined to send 19 athletes (not counting alternates) in 13 events to next week's state championships at Shippensburg University.
Sprinter Joe Kleman was a double champion for Southern, winning the 100 meters in 11.31 and the 200 in 22.85. Luke Rarig won the 110-meter high hurdles (15.00) and was second in the 300-meter hurdles and long jump, and Cody Pavlick threw a career-best 150 feet, 10 inches to win the discus.
Meanwhile, with all three of their relay teams qualifying, Mount Carmel will actually take more athletes (12) to the state meet, in six events.
The Red Tornadoes' Eric Joraskie won the shot put (49-8¼) and was part of the Tornadoes' odd looking winning 400-meter relay team, which won in 43.85 seconds. He also placed fourth in the discus but did not qualify in that event.
The other runners on the 400 relay team were Nick Troutman, Elijah Duran and Christian Kelly.
Other state qualifiers from the two area schools were Duran in the triple jump (second at 42-7¾), Southern's Andrew Steely (third in the 1600 with qualifying time of 4:25.75, Southern's 3200-metger relay team of Steely, Tony Chiavaroli, Jansen Ring and Dylan Swank, third with a time of 8:09.84; and Mount Carmel's 1600 and 3200-meter relay teams, which each finished fourth but met qualifying standards. The 1600 team of Treyvon White, Juwan Sullins, David Fletcher and Dondre Glasper was one of five teams to make the state meet with a 3:29.45, and the 3200 team of Fletcher, Mac Greco, Cory Hoffman and Justin Skavery met the qualifying time in that event by .03, with an 8:14.97.
Just missing the state meet, by .04 seconds, was Southern's 400 relay team of Rarig, Kleman, Bryce Parry and Adam Feudale.
Also qualiyfing, for the second straight year, was Mount Carmel pole vaulter Rob Varano, who finished third at 13-6.
"I went out today with a lot of confidence," said Kleman. "I felt pretty good with my starts, but I felt stronger out of them during the trials. But the 4 x 100 was disappointing. I feel really bad for Bryce (Parry). He finished fifth in both the 100 and 200 and we wanted to get him to states because he's worked really hard."
Rarig, the Tigers' top scorer on the day with 27.5 points, won the event he wanted to, even though it wasn't the event he won last year, when he won the long jump.
"I definitely wanted to win (the hurdles)," he said, citing it as his favorite race. It took a desperate plunge at the finish to nip Athens' Nick Pane by .01 of a second.
Rarig was also happy with his seconds, because he hit his caree-best in the 300 hurdles (40.22) and his season best in the long (21-01/2, two inches under his winning distance last season).
"That was my PR (personal record) by a second in the 300s," the sophomore said. "I wasn't going to run that because we were trying to put together a 4 x 400 team, but that fell through, so I went back to the hurdles. I hadn't done work on them in a couple of weeks, but for some reason, I cleared the hurdle with my right foot every time, and that's the first time I've been able to do it."
Rarig's second in the long jump was pivotal, coming at the end of the meet after the Tigers had to scratch their 4 x 400 team.
"The trainer wouldn't clear Joe (Kleman) because his hamstring was bothering him," said interim head coach Tom Donlan, who took over when head coach Lanny Conner had a heart attack in preseason. In addition, Chiavaroli had to leave for work and Steely probably didn't have much left after three hard races.
"Joe Kleman and Luke had great days," Donlan said. "Then you throw in Cody's win and a bunch of kids who scored other points. We had bunch of PRs today. The only disappointment was that relay. This is a great group of kids to work with. They really train well."
Mount Carmel coach Mike Farronato was jubilant at getting all three of his relay teams through.
"I don't know if we've ever done that before," he said. "This is one of our goals every year, to get as many kids to states as we can through the relays. Other teams may have other goals, but that's what it's all about. We're going to have 18 kids (counting alternates) at states out of 38 on the team. That's amazing, and they're going to have the experience of a lifetime, one they'll always remember."
Joraskie was a little disappointed that he didn't make it in what he considers his best event, the discus, but was just as pumped to make it in the 4 x 100 relay.
"That's wild," the 6-5, 250-pounder said. "My defensive coordinator (at Northwestern, where he will go on a football scholarship) is going around to all the other coaches there bragging about me being on a 4 x 1 relay team.
"I bothered the coaches to let me run a 100 all season, and they did against Midd-West, and I ran the third best time of the year. That got me on the team and we all just took it from there."
Joraskie had Pavlick to thank, among others, for his discus loss.
"I didn't think I threw it that far but then a bunch of my teammates down there started yelling, and I knew it was good," Pavlick said of his winning throw. "I'm really honored to go to Shippensburg and see how I can do. I've never been there and everybody who has says there are thousands of people watching. I'm really looking forward to next week."
Other AAA boys placewinners were:
Fifth - Parry, Southern, 100, 200.
Sixth - Southern Columbia's Trent Donlan, shot put; and Steely, 800; Mount Carmel's Nate Bartos, 3200.
Seventh - Varano, javelin.
Eighth - Troutman, 100; Southern's Josh Tripp, shot put.