It was an afternoon of firsts for area athletes Tuesday at the District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championships at Mansion Park.
The biggest factor was the lightning and sheets of rain which caused flooding throughout the venue.
“This is a championship qualifier,” said District 6 official Steve Rhodes at a meeting of the coaches. “Your kids need this meet and your kids need to have this facility in good condition. We will get this facility in good condition for your kids, but it won’t happen tonight. Mother Nature did us in. I’ll be honest with you, in 32 years, I’ve never seen it look like this.”
The meet was rescheduled for 4 p.m. today, weather permitting, where events will pick up where they left off.
Prior to the thunderstorm, a number of area boys qualified for the PIAA Track and Field Championships on May 23-24 at Shippensburg University. The top three finishers in each event automatically qualified.
Northern Cambria senior Gus Yahner earned his first District 6 title in the pole vault in impressive fashion.
Yahner cleared 15 feet, 3 inches, a district record that eclipsed the old standard of 14-6 set by Rudy Bilka of Bellwood-Antis back in 1983.
“The first thing I wanted to do was to get 13-6 so that I would qualify for states,” Yahner said. “Last year I was consistent at 14-6 but in the last two meets I’ve been able to pr (personal record).”
Penn Cambria junior Garrett Sutton knew he would have to be at his best if he wanted to earn his first trip to the state championships.
Sutton, seeded third coming into the meet, won the 1600 run in a time of 4:30.40.
“I was hoping to win today, but I was somewhat surprised, I guess,” Sutton said. “I was very happy. It’s exciting. I was seeded third coming in but I was just three seconds behind the No. 1 seeded time. I was pretty confident that I was going to be in the top three.
“I’ve never had a meet cancelled like this before. I know I’ve had postponements of waiting a couple minutes and getting off the bus, but I’ve never had a big meet like this be gone. It’s exciting to come back and go at it again and hopefully have fresher legs for the 800 and maybe the 3200. I’m seeded first in the 800 and if I qualify in that, I may not run the 3200.”
Sutton won the 800 at the Laurel Highlands meet and was second behind Bedford’s William Kachman in the 1600 at the LHAC championships.
The other area winner on Tuesday was Central Cambria junior Will Seymour in the shot put.
Seymour, who also won the Laurel Highlands title, had a throw of 49-5.75 to move on to the PIAA Championships.
Richland held the lead in the team competition when the rains came. The Rams had 41 points followed by Juniata with 39 and Bellwood-Antis with 31.
Other qualifiers for the PIAA Tournament on the track were: The 3200 relay quartet of Mike Walwro, Bryce Descavish, Javaunte Neumann and Jonah Lambie of Central Cambria; Richland sophomore Colby Warshel in the 300 hurdles; Portage senior Chris Onder and Forest Hills junior Eli Piner in the 100 hurdles; and Bishop Carroll junior Matt Karlheim in the 100 dash.
Other field event qualifiers were: Richland senior Michael Somiari in the long jump; Richland junior Linnie Joy in the shot put; and Richland junior Brennan Mikulsky and United senior Jacob Beacker in the pole vault.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.