PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” This afternoon, four AAA schools from District IX will send their best athletes to compete at the D-IX Track and Field Championships in Kane, and Punxsy head coach Barry Young said this year's field is one of the deepest and strongest he has seen in some time.
"The expectations are kind of varied this year, because all the district teams â€” Punxsy, Bradford, DuBois and Clearfield â€” have some outstanding female athletes, especially in the sprints and jumps," he said. "We're a very strong team this year, but so are the other three. Whoever makes it to states in each event will be well deserving to go there. This is probably one of the strongest District IX groups I've seen in both AA and AAA."
To advance beyond the D-IX meet and earn a trip to states, an athlete must either win her particular event or meet the state qualifying standard â€”Â a standard Young said is a very tough benchmark in each competition.
There is one loophole, though, which allows a second-place athlete to compete at states if a first-place finisher opts out of the event to participate in another she won. So Young also said his girls can't give up just because they see they aren't going to finish atop the podium.
On the AAA performance list â€” which seeds athletes based on their best times throughout the seasonÂ â€”Â Punxsy is without a listed No. 1 seed, but one of Punxsy's sprinters â€”Â junior Karah Hollis â€”Â is in the mix at the top of a very close 100-meter dash field.
Hollis' seed time is a 13.14, tied with the top-seeded runner, DuBois' Chereese Langley, and just 0.01 seconds ahead of Clearfield's Jessica Shomo's 13.15.
Hollis is also slated to compete in a pair of other events â€”Â the 200-meter dash and the high jump.
In the high jump, Hollis is seeded fifth at a height of 4-9, but DuBois senior Kaitlyn Corby enters the event a full five inches ahead with her seed height, so Hollis knows she has some work to do to place first.
In the 200, Hollis' time of 27.74 gives her another fifth seed, less than a second off the top-seeded time of 26.94 seconds by DuBois' Jordan Ball.
Punxsy sophomore Juliann Boddorf is just 0.1 seconds behind Hollis, seeded seventh in the event, as well.
Boddorf's top seed, though, comes in the 400-meter run, where her time of 1:01.79 is just under two seconds off Catherine Sheffo's â€” another Lady Beaver.
Emily Reitz (1:07.84, ninth seed) is also set to run the 400 for the Lady Chucks.
In addition to Hollis, Punxsy has just one other two seed â€”Â senior Kirsten Dean in the triple jump. Dean's seed jump of 34-9.25 is second to only DuBois' Danielle Sciremammano (35-11.5).
Dean is also seeded fifth in the long jump (15-9.5), where Shomo, Ball and Sciremammano hold the top three spots.
Despite not having any top seeds, though, Young said he is confident in his team's abilities, adding that anything can happen on any given day â€” it's why they hold the meets.
"It'll be fun, and it'll be interesting," he said. "It's what sports are all about. Realistically, you probably won't beat that girl who you know always throws farther than you do, but if you do your best and just see what happens, you never know."
One thing he said he was certain of is that all of his participants will give their best efforts, because they've been doing so all year.
"I know these girls will do their best, and I'll be pleased with them," he said. "They've done the work. Not everyone can be a champion, but if you work hard and do your best, you're a champion in your own right."
The Lady Chucks' only third seed comes on the field side of things in the shot put, where sophomore Sydni Bowers' throw of 31-9 was good enough to edge out her teammate, Alexis Minich, who is seeded fourth with a throw of 30-10.5.
Minich hopes her lucky number is four, as she is also seeded fourth in another throwing event â€”Â the discus â€” where she is seeded at 92-5.
Senior Cenneca Dilts (79-6, eighth seed) and junior Cassi Aul (75-11, 10th seed) are also set to throw in the discus.
Back on the track, senior Alexis Young has the same lucky number as Minich, as she is seeded fourth in a pair of events â€” the 1600-meter run (5:36.34) and the 800-meter run (2:37.24).
And in the event's longest race, the 3200-meter run, Punxsy freshman Ala Small hopes to make some noise from the fifth seed (12:40.97).
Reitz, who is seeded ninth in the 400-meter dash, is also Punxsy's top seed in a pair of hurdle events. In the 300-meter hurdles her seed time of 53.63 seconds is good enough for sixth best, and in the 100-meter hurdles, she is seeded eighth at 18.44 seconds.
Punxsy's final top-six seed comes in the pole vault, where Anna Monyak is seeded at 7-0. Unfortunately, though, Bradford's strong pole program has a pair of girls â€” Elizabeth Coppella and Mackenzie O'Brien â€”Â seeded at 10-6 and 8-6 respectively to lead the way.
In each of the three relay events â€” the 4x100-meter relay, the 4x400 and the 4x800 â€”Â Punxsy is seeded fourth of the four teams, but Young said he is hopeful to see good times out of them, as well.
Despite not knowing exactly what to expect, Young does have realistic expectations for his team, he said.
"We're going to go and compete and let the results fall where they will, as we always do," he said. "DuBois and Bradford are definitely the heavy favorites. We lost to both of them handily this year, and we are realistic. We won't say we'll go in there and beat up on those teams. But we do hope for our share of places, and hopefully, we'll even sneak in a few first places, too."
Other Lady Chucks' athletes competing in the D-IX Championships, with their seeds, include:
â€˘ 100-meter hurdles: Hannah Rummel (10th seed) and Sarah Johnston (11th)
â€˘ 1600-meter run: Kaston Mohney (11th) and Kaitlyn Glatt (12th)
â€˘ 400-meter dash: Logan Brooks (12th)
â€˘ 300-meter hurdles: Johnston (10th)
â€˘ 800-meter run: Mohney (13th)
â€˘ 3200-meter run: Glatt (11th)
â€˘ Long jump: Alexandra Mancuso (13th) and Hannah Rummel (14th)
â€˘ Triple jump: Rummel (11th) and Hunter Smith (12th)
â€˘ Shot put: Dilts (11th)
â€˘ Javelin: Rachel Barnett (ninth), Cassi Aul (10th) and Shaina Reddinger (11th)View more articles in: