SHIPPENSBURG — Punxsy senior Nickita Martz was two spots away from reaching the finals in the javelin at the PIAA Track and Field Championships Friday in Shippensburg.
Martz, who entered states as the No. 20 seed out of 27 Class AAA girls, vaulted to the top eight with her second throw of 123-10. But as the second flight came through, three girls surpassed the Punxsy senior and dropped her to 11th place, or two positions away from the finals and an opportunity at a state medal.
"She was frustrated and upset that she didn't make it. It's hard when you get that close and don't make it," Punxsy girls' head coach Barry Young said. "She took it hard at first, and then she accepted it and moved on."
While Martz fell short of her goal, which was earning a state medal, she improved heavily on last year's 97-8 throw at states.
"She threw with a lot more confidence this year. She came down this year expecting to do well," Young said. "Last year, she was unsure she could do well."
Martz's first and third throws Friday were 114-1 and 112-2, respectively. The senior finished her career with four District IX Class AAA Championships and four state berths in the javelin.
"She had a great year and a great career," Young said. "Not many people get four district championships."
Punxsy senior A.J. Meterko competed in the 1,600-meter run, and the Chucks' 4x800-meter relay team of junior Derick Kelly, freshman Kevin Hughes, sophomore Nathan Ward and senior Tom Wagner also ran at states Friday.
Punxsy boys' head coach John Smith said that Meterko was off to a good start, but became tired down the stretch. Meterko finished in 27th place out of 30 runners with a time of 4:31.87 after he ran a 4:30.04 at districts.
"He ran pretty good for the first lap or two. He couldn't put it away in the last lap," Smith said. "We were hoping he would run a little better. The 1,600 and 800 had just unbelieveable competition."
Smith expected the cut-off point for the final to be in the low 4:20s. The last runner to qualify for today's final was 4:23.77.
"I don't think it was a matter of nerves. They were going at an extremely fast pace," Smith said. "(Reaching the final) didn't happen, but we're proud of him. He ran in a state meet in the fall, winter and spring, and not many kids can say that."
Meterko is a three-time state-qualifier in cross country; advanced to states in the 800 for indoor track and field; and was a first-time qualifier in the 800, 1,600 and 4x800 this year. He chose to run in just the 1,600 Friday to preserve energy.
Punxsy's 4x800 team finished last out of 29 schools with a time of 8:41.95. With Meterko as the anchor, Punxsy finished in 8:12.04 at districts.
"They got a little bit of an experience down there. There was a little bit of nervousness," Smith said. "The first lap was good. As they ran the race, they kind of lost contact with the rest of the pack."
Punxsy's split times were: Kelly, 2:06; Hughes, 2:09; Ward, 2:11; and Wagner, 2:13.
"After Hughes got through his first lap, we didn't have contact to go after anybody," Smith said. "They were all a little nervous looking out at the crowd. The whole stadium was packed."
Punxsy's final athlete to compete at states will be senior Milea Schall, who will run the 3,200. She's in search of breaking Kelsey Acre's school record, which at 11:36.31, was set in 2008.
Schall will compete at 9 a.m. today.