Brookville track looks to have the race of its life

BROOKVILLE — Both the boys' and girls' track and field squads took home second place at the District IX Class AA Championships in 2011, but today, they are hoping to overcome that hurdle and win it all.

The Raiders have qualifiers in every event except shot put and discus, while the Lady Raiders will be represented in all 18 events except the shot put and javelin.

On the boys' side, Shane Hummel is a four-event qualifier. He will be a member of the 4x800-meter relay team, which will also include Leland Mowery, Shane Hummel and Dakoda Kellenberger. Hummel will then likely compete in two of the three distance events.

"Ultimately, it has to be comfortable and be in the right frame of mind in the right race for him," boys' head coach Dan Murdock said. "We're still debating that back and forth a little bit."

Murdock has high hopes for junior Aaron Ray, who has been very competitive in both the long and triple jumps. Ray is seeded second in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump, but Murdock is fully confident that Ray can surprise some competitors.

"Aaron prepares himself so well; he really understands the events and does all the right things in practice," Murdock said. "Everyone in that long jump is beatable. In the triple jump, if he jumps what he's capable of — and he loves to jump at Brookville — I look for him to have a great jump."

Ryan Kerr is another Raider for the other teams to look out for. Kerr has represented Brookville at the state meet for two consecutive years at the javelin, and he is seeded second behind only Mike Shuey, of Johnsonburg.

Kerr's ultimate goals are to break the school record of 201 feet, win the event and qualify for states.

The state qualifying mark in the javelin is 176-0, which Kerr has yet to throw under this season.

"That's an event that will be a great battle," Murdock said. "With Ryan and Mike Shuey and Kyle Armagost, of Moniteau, they've all thrown over the state qualifying mark. It'll be a great event to watch. Shuey and Ryan seem to bring out the best in each other, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone throws 200 (feet) and loses."

Another in place to score points for the Raiders is Braiden Smith, who is qualified in both hurdles as well as 4x100-meter relay and the high jump.

Smith is seeded sixth in the 110-meter hurdles, and Murdock said if Smith runs a great race, he has the chance to take second place.

"I think they're pretty evenly-matched from about second to sixth place, so we're hoping he can just have the race of his life," Murdock said. "With the hurdles and the 100-dash, it's just about getting to the finals first and seeing what happens. You never know what's going to happen."

Evan Matheny and Wyatt Long have both qualified in the 200-meter dash, but they will likely forgo that race to concentrate on the relays.

Matheny will also compete in the 400-meter dash, where he is seeded 12th, Murdock said he always expects great things out of Matheny and said that being in the slow heat could work to his advantage.

"I wouldn't bet against him as far as winning that heat and stealing a place out of the slow heat," Murdock said. "He likes to run to win, and that's good. It almost works out better."

On the girls' side, the clear ones to keep an eye on are Lanae and Aisha Newsome.

Lanae Newsome will compete in the 4x100-meter relay, the 100- and 200-meter dash and the triple jump, where she will look to defend her title.

"We honestly feel Lanae would be a favorite in any event that she's qualified for districts in," girls' head coach Doug Roseman said. "We'd like to see her nail a solid (triple) jump right off the bat."

Aisha Newsome will be running both hurdles as well as the 4x100-meter relay and will likely run the 200-meter dash. She has also qualified in the 4x400-meter dash, but a final decision has not been made about her events.

"Really, I would like to have Aisha use the district meet as a tune up for states," Roseman said. "I'd like to see her drop her time a little bit and have a solid day all around."

Both Newsomes are looking to return to states in multiple events, and Roseman said he has full confidence in them.

"Any time you send underclassmen to states, your first goal is to send them back next year," Roseman said. "That's our primary goal, to have some return to states. We're not hoping to just win, but possibly have a little better performances as well."

Another to watch out for is Ashley Wolfe, who qualified for seven events for the Lady Raiders. According to Roseman, she will definitely run in the 4x100-meter relay and compete in the long jump, but her other two events are undecided. She has qualified in both hurdles, the 4x400-meter relay and both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Wolfe, along with both Newsomes, were members of the 4x100-meter relay team, which won districts last year with Brianne Dietrich, who graduated. This year, they've added Francheska Smith to the team.

Katie Zents is another who qualified in more than four events, and her fate is also undecided. She will be a part of the 4x800-meter relay team, which will consist of Annie Amsler, Julie Shields, Ali Ruffner and Zents.

Zents has also qualified in the 400-meter dash and all three distance races.

Emily Rickard hopes to repeat as a state qualifier in the high jump. She is seeded fifth at 5-0 but is just two inches shy of top-seeded Kelsey Payne, of Port Allegany.

"We'd love to see Emily get to return to Shippensburg," Roseman said. "She's in with three or four girls all jumping very similarly, and she certainly has the potential to find the title."

Rickard will also compete in the triple jump, where Roseman said she could be a "bit of a dark horse."

Both Brookville squads have one major thing going for them — home court advantage. According to Murdock, both squads tend to find more success when the championships are held at Brookville.

"Without a doubt, we love to compete at home; I love it, the kids love it, and they're very familiar with it," Murdock said. "It may be all psychological, but it doesn't matter. It's just more comfortable, and it's certainly an advantage."

The field events will begin at 3 p.m. today, while the track events should start about 4 p.m.