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4x400 victory helps Chucks edge Raiders

April 5, 2011

Punxsy's A.J. Meterko (left) begins the final leg of the 4x400-meter relay race after receiving the baton from Nathan Ward Tuesday in Brookville. The Chucks won the 4x400, and that helped them earn a 77-73 victory over the Raiders. (Photo by Dan Walk/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — When the last track event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay, arrived Tuesday in Brookville, Punxsy boys' head coach John Smith wasn't sure if his team would be able to pull out a victory.

That's when he urged his 4x400 runners — Tom Wagner, Derick Kelly, Nathan Ward and A.J. Meterko — to finish strong, considering their victory and the five team points the foursome could earn would push the overall win in the Chucks' favor.

The 4x400 was relatively close, until Ward handed off to Meterko for the final leg, and he pulled away, helping the Chucks win the event and ultimately defeat the Raiders, 77-73.

"I told them that we had to win that (the 4x400) if we even had the slightest chance," Smith said. "It was going to be a close one, and the kids pulled through. It could have gone either way. Brookville did a great job, and I think all the kids did a great job under the conditions."

Brookville head coach Dan Murdock agreed about how important the last relay race was.

"I was real happy with our effort. It came down to the end," Murdock said. "I thought if we won three relays we could win this meet, and we won two relays, and we ran out of gas in the end."

Meterko, a senior, was once again one of the stars of the show Tuesday. Along with helping Punxsy (2-0) win the 4x400, he finished first in the 800-meter run (2:08.25), the 1,600 (4:56) and the 3,200-meter run (10:59.98).

Ward was right behind Meterko in two of those events, finishing second in the 1,600 (5:12) and 3,200 (11:30.23).

"We knew it was going to be a close meet, regardless," Smith said. "We had some kids like A.J. Meterko and Nathan Ward, who pretty much had to take 1-2 in some of the events like the mile and two-mile."

Also winning multiple events was Brody Morgan, who had the best throws in the shot put (43-4 1/4), discus (116-11 1/2) and javelin (179-11).

The javelin victory was huge for Morgan, who lost to Brookville's Ryan Kerr by more than 19 feet last year in Punxsutawney. Morgan defeated Kerr (174-11) by five feet Tuesday.

"Morgan has been a godsend," Smith said. "With the windy conditions, it's tough for either one of them to throw. They've both fine athletes. No one should feel bad about how it turned out."

Also winning an event for Punxsy was Spencer Fiumara, who took first in the 200-meter dash in 24.95.

Brookville's Vinny Dougherty controlled the jumping events, but the Chucks were sure to grab second place in all three events.

Dougherty was followed by Punxsy's Kevin Byars in the long jump (21-4 1/4 to 19-10 1/2) and triple jump (43-7 to 42-7 1/2) and by Punxsy's Dylan Lettie in the high jump (5-4 to 5-2).

"Kevin Byars had some good jumps again today," Smith said.

Devon Luzell also had a strong showing Tuesday. He grabbed second in the 100-meter dash (11.96) and shot put (36-9).

Lettie placed in three events. Along with second in the high jump, he was third in the 110 hurdles (19.04) and 300 hurdles (48.56).

"There were some outstanding performances, and there were some kids that plain gutted it out," Smith said.

Punxsy's other places came from Wagner (second, 400 dash); Tyler Presloid (second, pole vault); Jordan London (second, discus); Matt Burke (third, 100 dash); Glenn Perry (third, 200 dash); and Stephen Stumpf (third in shot put and discus).

"People have to realize how close this was. One little place in the shot put would have switched this around, and the same in a lot of the other events," Smith said. "We're pleased overall with what we did."

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