PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Five teams will travel to the boys' District IX Track and Field Championships this afternoon at Kane, but two are considered powerhouses â€” DuBois and Bradford â€”Â and it's expected to be a back-and-forth event for the two teams. But that doesn't mean Punxsy's squad doesn't have high aspirations of earning a few surprise first-place finishes and moving on to the state tournament May 31 at Shippensburg University.
"The bottom line is, it looks like it will be a big cat and mouse game between Bradford and DuBois," Punxsy head coach John Smith said.
"There's no denying that. They have two really strong teams and a lot of strong individuals. But nothing is for certain at the district meet."
Punxsy has just one top seed entering the tournament: Kevin Hughes in the 400-meter dash.
Hughes' seed time of 51.05 seconds is more than a full second better than the No. 2 seed â€”Â DuBois' Jeremiah Clinchoc, who enters the race with a best time of 52.19.
Even with a full second advantage, though, Smith said Hughes will have his work cut out for him â€” for the very same reason that all Punxsy's non-No. 1 seeds should enter the tournament with confidence.
"We have just one first seed in Kevin," Smith said. "And even though he's seeded first, the problem with that is everyone is gunning for him."
After Hughes, Punxsy's next best seed in the sprints is a No. 9 seed, which Smith attributes to the strengths of the other programs.
"Sprints will be a tough place to get anything," he said. "DuBois dominates the sprints, so we have our work cut out for us."
Freshman Eric Ingros and senior Derick Kelly, seeded ninth and 10th, respectively, are Punxsy's other two competitors in the 400.
In the 100-meter dash, Punxsy's three sprinters have a tough road ahead of them, with the No. 1 seed â€” DuBois' Teage Kolar â€”Â having already broken the PIAA qualifying standard with a seed time of 10.94.
Punxsy's three competitors are Travis Perry (12.12, 12th seed); Matt Burke (12.24, 14th seed); and William Boddorf (12.54, 15th seed).
The Chucks are hoping for an upset in the 200 as well, where Kolar is again king seed with a seed time of 22.74 seconds.
Burke's seed cracks the top 10 in the 200, where he is ranked No. 9 with a time of 24.54. Perry (25.03, 13th seed) and Thomas Renwick (25.44, 14th seed) will also run the event for the Chucks.
Another Punxsy competitor Smith is hoping for big things from is senior thrower Brody Morgan, whose best seed is in the javelin, where he is ranked second entering the tourney.
Unfortunately for Morgan, there is another top-notch senior thrower in the district in Bradford's David Reinhardt, but Smith hopes Morgan can give him a run for his money.
Morgan is seeded second in the javelin with a throw of 172-8, but Reinhardt's throw of 201-3 is best for king seed.
In the other two events, Reinhardt is atop the seedings again, and Morgan finds himself in fourth in each event.
"In the field events, Brody is seeded No. 2 in the javelin, and even though he's not seeded as well in the other two events, we expect him to score some major points in shot and discus, as well," Smith said.
One promising sign for Punxsy makes itself especially clear in the throwing events, though.
In what Smith calls a "senior-laden" district this year, Punxsy also has some highly-ranked underclassmen.
In the javelin, the top seven competitors are seniors, and Punxsy owns the next two seeds with sophomore Will Curtis (138-0) and Luke Shiock (129-11).
In the shot, Punxsy's Zach Minich (42-7.5) is the top-seeded underclassman at No. 5, and junior Jordan London's seed in the discus matches Minich's with a throw of 42-7.5.
"We realize that in some events, they're pretty senior-laden," Smith said. "That's especially true in the field. So, maybe next year looks good for us. Maybe the strength they have will swing the momentum in Punxsy's direction."
Sophomore Brock Getch (39-6, 10th seed) rounds out the shot put field, and senior Stephen Stumpf (117-2, seventh seed) will be Punxsy's third discus thrower.
In the distance events, the Chucks have a pair of No. 2 seeds, although those second seeds will have to run their best races to crack their respective king seeds.
In the 1600-meter run, Punxsy junior Nathan Ward looks to bring down top-seeded Aziz Yousif, of Bradford. But to do so, Ward will have to push the pace, as Yousif's seed time of 4:26.64 is 16 seconds better than Ward's 4:42.83.
With an equally-difficult task ahead of him is another Punxsy distance runner â€” freshman Bo Dinger in the 3200-meter run.
Dinger's seed time of 10:28.97 is good enough for second best, but the top seed, St. Marys' Gideon Woelfel, is seeded at 10:07.03.
"Beating those distance guys will be tough," Smith admitted. "But what we're hoping for is to place in some of those events and earn some points and gain some experience."
Jerad Meterko (5:03.86, seventh seed) and Luke Fugate (5:14.24, 11th seed) round out Punxsy's 1600 field, and Fugate (11:19.01, 12th seed) and Ward (11:53.43, 14th seed) will also run in the 3200-meter run.
Ward will also run the 800-meter run, where his fifth seed is Punxsy's best. Freshmen Seth Burkett and Zach Moore, seeded seventh and 12th respectively, will round out the Chucks' 800-meter field.
Another Punxsy second seed, senior Tyler Presloid in the pole vault, faces the same story with different characters.
Presloid's seed height of 13-3 puts him second-best in the district, but Brandon Teribery's height of 15-4 bests it by two full feet.
"Tyler's up against Bradford's top vaulter, and depending on what kind of day he has, it'll be tough," Smith said. "Bradford's exceptionally strong in the field with Teribery and Reinhardt, so they'll score a lot of points there. But hopefully, Tyler can score, too."
Tanner Evans (10-6) and Dylan Stanford (9-6) are Punxsy's other two competitors, seeded fifth and eighth, respectively.
Punxsy's final No. 2 seed comes in an event of a different variety: The 4x800-meter relay.
The Chucks list their potential competitors as Kelly, Ward, Fugate, Burkett, Hughes and Ingros, and despite a seed time nine seconds slower than DuBois, Smith said, "DuBois has the best time, but depending on how we set it up, we really could give them a run."
Punxsy's other two relay teams are ranked no better than fourth of five teams.
Junior hurdler and high jumper Dylan Lettie has a trio of top-six seeds.
His best seeds come in the 110-meter hurdles (16.84 seconds) and the high jump (5-8), where he is seeded fourth in each. He is also seeded sixth in the 300-meter hurdles (44.54).
Lance Deet (eighth seed) and Chris Fairman (12th seed) round out the 110-meter hurdles field for Punxsy; Deet and Renwick are seeded 14th and 15th, respectively, in the 300-meter hurdles; and Deet and Fairman will compete for Punxsy in the high jump, as well.
In the triple jump, Punxsy's Kevin Byars â€” who Smith said just may return to his "true form" today â€” is the top Chuck, seeded fourth with a jump of 39-10.5. Ryan Presloid is less than a foot behind him, seeded seventh at 38-11.5. Jesse Reichard will round out the Punxsy field, seeded 13th.
Tyler Presloid is Punxsy's top seed in the long jump, almost two feet behind Bradford's Zach Vleminckx. Presloid is seeded eighth with a best jump of 19-3, and Reichard (18-8.75) and Byars (18-0.5) round out Punxsy's competitors.
Despite the fact that Smith expects a two-horse race, he also said he has goals set for his team.
"We want to go out there and compete, and everyone wants to do their best," he said. "The top five place at this meet, so everyone's going to be gunning for that top-five finish."View more articles in: