PUNXSUTAWNEY — Senior A.J. Meterko, junior Kevin Byars and the Punxsy boys' track and field team's 4x800 relay squad enter Thursday's District IX Class AAA Track and Field Championship meet in Brookville as the Chucks' No. 1 seeds.
Meterko has the best shot of heading to states, as individually, he is seeded No. 1 in two events and No. 2 in another.
Meterko is the best bet in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. His time of 1:58.84 in the 800 and 4:32.47 in the 1,600 are both more than five seconds better than the competition. He's also the second seed in the 3,200-meter run to St. Marys' Gideon Woelfel, though Punxsy head coach John Smith said that Meterko may not run the 3,200 if he wins the 800 or 1,600.
"A.J's best chance at states is either one of those — (the 800 or 1,600). He's going to run them both at districts," Smith said. "We probably won't run him in both at states even if he wins both of them."
Byars, the reigning triple jump district champion, is the top seed in that event this year. His best leap this season — 43-0 — is nearly two feet better than St. Marys' Trenton Schreiber. Byars is also a competitor in the long jump, an event in which he is seeded third to DuBois' Tanner Gooden — 19-11 to 21-0.
"Kevin Byars is hoping to be in the mix there," Smith said. "The triple jump ... is another one that may be up for grabs. He has a good chance of repeating."
The 4x800 will provide an intriguing start to the district meet. Punxsy is seeded first with a time of 8:28.24, and Smith said that DuBois and Bradford have run similar times this season.
Punxsy is expected to use Derick Kelly, Nathan Ward, Kevin Hughes and Meterko in the event, though Tom Wagner and Quinton Weber are possible alternates.
"It's anybody's ball game. But this is one that we're out to win," Smith said. "We want to send some guys to the state meet. The weather might not be that good, and everybody will be pushing at the beginning of the meet."
Punxsy junior Brody Morgan has a good shot of advancing to states in the javelin, though he is more than 20 feet behind Bradford junior David Reinhardt, the top seed. Morgan's seeded mark of 179-11 is better than the 178-0 state-qualifying mark, so even if he places second, a throw of 178-0 or better Thursday will advance him to states.
"If he doesn't win it, Brody's going to have to throw the state standard," Smith said. "We're hoping that he can do it."
The top five places in individual events score a team point.
In line to place for the Chucks are Dylan Lettie (100 hurdles, fifth; and 300 hurdles, fifth), Hughes (400 dash, fifth), Tyler Presloid (pole vault, third) and Jesse Reichard (triple jump, fourth).
Some Chucks are seeded outside of the top five, but Smith hopes they are able to move up and place as underdogs.
"We're hoping for not too much rain and some good results," he said. "Every guy's just going to go out there and try to do his best."
The field events begin at 3 p.m. and will be followed at 4 p.m. by the track events.