Richland High School hit a double on Wednesday night, as the Rams captured the team titles in both the boys and girls District 6 Class AA track and field championships at Mansion Park.
The district meet took two days to complete due to a lengthy downpour that halted competition about halfway through the schedule on Tuesday night.
Both Rams’ teams set the foundation on Day 1 and finished off the two-tiered title run the next evening.
“It’s awesome for us both to win it,” Richland senior Alyssa Rozich said after participating in four girls events over two days. “This has been our goal all year long. A lot of our underclassmen really pulled through and we placed in multiple events.”
Richland’s girls had 79 points, followed by runner-up Bishop McCort at 60. Westmont Hilltop (51.5), Bellwood-Antis (51), Forest Hills (48), Ligonier Valley (46) and Central Cambria (41) were next in the team standings as Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference squads took five of the top-seven positions.
“Our depth means a lot because even if you have one person that wins first, the people who finish fifth and sixth place, their points matter,” Rozich said of the Rams.
The Richland boys needed to place in the 1600-meter relay to hold off Juniata. The Rams’ relay finished sixth. Richland won with 63 points, eight better than runner-up Juniata (55). Bald Eagle Area (50), Central Cambria (46), Homer-Center (42) and Bellwood-Antis (42) held the top-five places.
“It means a lot to us,” Richland senior Mario Rizzo said. “We’ve worked hard all year long, going to every meet determined to do the best we could. We knew all year if we worked our butts off, we’d have a chance to win districts.”
Richland’s boys also used depth to put key team points on the board.
“Having a big team, a close team, we all work hard together and it means a lot,” Rizzo said. “It is awesome to share the trophies with the girls. It’s an incredible feeling.”
The Rams’ Michael Somiari won the triple jump with a state qualifying standard jump of 45-10.5 on Wednesday.
Richland coach Chris Mangus said he’s not sure if Richland swept the district meet titles before, though he noted that the teams might have pulled off the feat once before in the past decade.
Longtime District 6 meet director Tom Musselman said boys and girls teams from the same school winning in the same year is rare, but no records were immediately available.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Mangus said. “We told the girls at the beginning of the year that we felt they had a shot at winning this. They finally came around and believed they could do it. That was the difference. They believed in themselves.
“The boys, really the only team that has beaten them this year is Bedford,” Mangus added. “Coming in, we’ve gone against most of the schools here, so I told them, ‘I expect you to win.’ To pull off the double, I don’t know if anybody has done that before.”
Richland will be well-represented at the PIAA Championship Meet at Shippensburg on May 23-24.
The top-three placewinners in all events held on Tuesday and Wednesday will advance to the state championship meet.
During Wednesday’s portion of the 6-AA meet, Northern Cambria’s Seth Bearer had a personal best 51.6 to win the 400-meter race and uphold a family tradition.
“It means everything to me,” Bearer said. “It’s really important to me. My dad went and my brother went (to the PIAA Meet). Now we have three generations going.”
His father, Andrew Bearer, graduated from Northern Cambria in 1989, and older brother Derek, was a state qualifier in 2012 and 2013 before graduating.
“They push me a lot through everything,” Seth Bearer said. “We all run the 400.”
Bearer edged Bald Eagle Area’s Nathan Styles, who briefly lost his footing on the stretch and had a 52.21. United’s Gage George placed third to advance to Shippensburg.
“We were pretty much neck-and-neck,” Bearer said.
Bishop Carroll won the 400-meter relay in a state-qualifying time of 43.71, which also broke the previous school record.
“They gave me a good lead,” anchor Matt Karlheim said. “The last three meets, the West Central, Laurel Highlands and this one, we’ve been under 45. Somehow, we shaved off a whole second.”
The relay included Alex Repko, Brody Shuty, Dan Lesney and Karlheim.
“We have a good starter, Repko,” Karlheim said. “From there, Brody Shuty, we both placed in the 100-meter dash, and they gave us the longest legs. Our third leg (Lesney) is a good turn runner.”
Central Cambria’s Chase Dill won the discus with a throw of 138-10 as the competition stretched over two days.
“It was my last throw before the big storm (Tuesday),” Dill said. “We were all excited and hyped up about it. I knew I needed to get one in before the rain and it just kind of happened. It was one of my best throws of the year.
“As soon as I knew I got a good one in, you don’t have to worry as much.”
Cambria Heights’ Shawn Lacue won the high jump with a state-qualifying standard jump of 6-4. Central Cambria’s Tanner Ambrisco was runner-up at 6-2.
Other boys’ qualifiers on Wednesday included Forest Hills’ Joe Donoughe, third place in the triple jump (43-6.5); Central Cambria’s Bryce Descavish, second in the 3200 (9:59.55); and Penn Cambria’s Garrett Sutton, second in the 800 (2:01.02).
In the girls meet, Bishop Carroll’s Brittany Krug won the javelin with a state qualifying standard throw of 126-9.
“It’s cool as a freshman to go and be able to experience this stuff,” Krug said. “I was just hoping on getting top eight when I first came into it. Getting a first, I didn’t think I was going to do it.”
Krug saved her best for last.
“My final throw was the one that actually got me my mark for states,” Krug said. “My coach kept telling me I was having my tip too high. Whenever I threw that one, I pulled it into my face and it was low. It just sailed.”
Westmont Hilltop’s Hannah Dorian won the 3200-meter run with a state qualifying standard time of 11:22.96.
She led a LHAC trio at the top. Forest Hills’ Tricia Varner was second and also had a state qualifying standard at 11:30.94. Central Cambria’s Samantha Ross advanced to the state meet with a third-place finish at 11:35.51.
The Bishop McCort 400-meter relay won in 51.18. The squad included Katie Downey, Tahlyn Miller, Allison Seidel and Maria Rhine. Westmont Hilltop advanced with a second-place (51.43) in the 400 relay with the team of Sara Trio, Shayla Salter, Emily Mundy and Bridget Sheehan. The Crushers’ 1600-meter relay won in 4:09.9, edging Richland at 4:11.02.
The McCort squad included Hollis Helsel, Tahlyn Miller, Kelly Ingram and Kathryn Downey. Richland’s squad also will advance with Gretchen Marx, Rozich, Samantha Ballow and Allison Patula.
Other area state qualifiers on Wednesday included Ligonier Valley’s Jasmine Connor, second in the 200 (26.64); Bishop McCort’s Tonni Melendez, second in the long jump (15-8.5); Forest Hills’ Kaitlyn Kline, third in the long jump (15-6.25); Richland’s Serena Pridgen, third in the shot put (35-2.75); Central Cambria’s Emma Wess, third in the 800 (2:24.84); and Penn Cambria’s Jadyn Tiracave, third in the javelin (116-6).
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.