Bittersweet L-L Meet for the Warriors
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
After four straight fouls in the boys discus, David Lucas had one final opportunity to show his stuff at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championships last Saturday.
In the end, the Warwick sophomore’s last throw was his best throw.
Unleashing a heave of 145 feet, 7 inches, Lucas earned the bronze medal in his L-L Meet debut on a rainy day at Hempfield High School.
"I’m very happy about (winning L-L bronze)," Lucas said. "I’m glad that I could come out my very first year on varsity and get a third in the League. I came in seeded third, I finished third … I’m satisfied."
Lucas’ bronze was part of a mixed bag for the Warriors on the first step of the post-season. Overall, Warwick took home seven L-L medals, but expectations were higher for the Warwick boys and girls, who finished 12th (16 points) and 15th (11 points), respectively.
"We had standouts in some places," Warwick head coach Katie Vann said. "Sheridan (McNeill), as a freshman, did really well in the high jump (winning bronze at 5-0). David took third in the discus, Mike Hoffman took sixth in the 110 Hurdles (in 15.71 seconds), so we had some good races with the group that we brought … I was happy in places. I think overall, we could have been a little bit happier with some things."
"In the sense of, if there’s a meet that you’re going to be off, this is the one you want to do it in," Warwick distance coach Ed Nixdorf said. "Not the next one (District Three Championships). Some of them that are borderline that had already qualified (for Districts) didn’t improve their times. So it doesn’t hurt you. It just doesn’t put you in a better seed."
Rachel Mueller earned a pair of top-six finishes in the girls distance events, placing fourth in the 1,600 (5:19.74) and sixth in the 800 (2:22.23), while her brother Ben Mueller, a senior, claimed a silver in the boys 1,600 in a time of 4:27.64, and Alex McCord added a sixth-place medal in the boys high jump (6-0) to complete Warwick’s list of medalists.
Although the Warriors were unable to strike any gold at this year’s L-L Championships, Lucas, who recently set the school record in the discus (156-3), had to like his chances during warm-up throws.
"During warm-up throws when it was dry, I had some throws that were pushing 170 (feet)," he said. "But the rain came and it was the mental game that got to me."
On his first throw of flight competition, Lucas broke off a throw of 139-10. Then as the conditions deteriorated into a driving rain storm, he fouled on his final two flight throws, but fortunately, his opening effort was good enough to get him into the finals as the number five seed.
Lucas’ struggles continued on his next two throws, with the discus landing outside of the sector both times, but the third throw in the finals was the charm, when he leapfrogged Elizabethtown’s Austin Brinser (144-7) and Columbia’s Vanyel Leytham-Peterson (133-3) with his throw of 145-7. Northern Lebanon’s Marcus Disbrow won the gold at 149-9, followed by Hempfield’s Tanner Unger (146-7) with the silver.
"During the course of throwing, the rain was starting to get to my head so I was trying everything that I could to slow everything down," Lucas said. "The 145 (throw), I sort of relaxed, told myself to calm down, took a deep breath and just went back to the form and technique and not try to rush anything."
Warwick throwers coach Alex Daecher credited Lucas for his ability to put together a solid throw with his back to the wall in conditions that were less than ideal.
"His two best throws were his first and his last, which I was excited to see. I mean, he fouled a bunch in the middle there, and it was good to see even with a little bit of pressure that he could throw a good last throw and move up a place," Daecher said. "In a driving rain storm, everybody didn’t throw well, it was good to see that he could get that third place with the weather as it was. He’s a sophomore, and I know he would have loved to have been a sophomore with a gold, but a sophomore with a bronze isn’t bad either."
Lucas will enter this week’s District Three Triple-A Championships at Shippensburg University seeded fifth in the discus with his throw of 156-10 at the Black Knight Invitational earlier this season.
"The big thing, I think, will be him throwing well next week and making it to States," Daecher said. "I think that would be a huge thing for him to get to States. I plan on seeing him at States for three years, and trying to get this first one under your belt as a sophomore and get that nervousness out so next year when you show up as a junior, it’s like old hat, and by the time you’re a senior, it’s like you’re supposed to be there."
Ben Mueller will have his eyes on States as the number-five seed in this weekend’s District Three Triple-A 1,600 with a career-best time of 4:20.02. The Warwick senior ran that time at the West Chester Henderson Invitational at the end of the regular season, and he entered last Saturday’s race with the mindset of finishing with another good time while going after the gold medal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
"I wasn’t very disappointed with my place, but I wasn’t happy with my race, the way I ran and my time and stuff," Mueller said. "I was never really in it, so it was kinda disappointing in that sense. I was seeded second and the guy that won (Penn Manor’s Harrison Schettler) is really good, he’s had a great year. So it’s not disappointing in that sense, but my time and my race I wasn’t happy with."
Mueller’s strategy was to get out fast with Schettler, who also took gold in Friday’s 3,200 in 9:39.36, and he accomplished that with an opening-lap split of 65 seconds. But then his second and third laps came up a little bit short and Schettler went on to break the tape in 4:20.19, seven seconds ahead of Mueller (4:27.64).
"I wanted to go out hard (with Schettler) to make it a race and stuff, but then my middle laps were just really bad," said Mueller, who is also seeded 15th in the District 800 (1:59.40). "As far as the start of the race, I did what I wanted to, but then the middle of the race, I fell off and I wasn’t there."
The girls 1,600 also involved a Mueller, with Ben’s sister, Rachel, a junior, competing in the race. Her fourth-place finish in that event was her first L-L individual medal after winning a ….-place L-L medal with the girls 4×800 last year. Penn Manor’s Greta Lindsley won the gold in 5:03.95, easily ahead of runner-up Joslin Sellers of Lampeter-Strasburg (5:15.36). Mueller’s time of 5:19.74 was just off her fourth-place seed time of 5:19.26.
"I think my goal was just to get a PR, really," said Mueller, who is seeded 18th in the District Three Triple-A 1,600 (5:19.26) and 800 (2:21.60). "I was seeded fourth, so I met my seed. But my coach just wanted me to go out and see how fast I could run because this is the first year I’ve really run the mile."
Not long after finishing the 1,600, Mueller was back on the starting line for the 800, and although she didn’t have a lot left in the tank, she managed to place sixth in 2:22.23. Manheim Township’s Meredith Newman won the event in a time of 2:16.57.
"I was really tired after the mile earlier, so I kinda just went out to see what I could do," Mueller said. "I had some time goals, but I didn’t meet those. But my coach just wanted me to go out there and see what I could do.
"I guess I can’t really be mad with a double (individual medal performance), but my legs are really hurting after that," she laughed.
McNeill and Hoffman have also qualified for this weekend’s District Three Triple-A Championships. McNeill has the 17th seed in the girls high jump (5-1) and Hoffman has the 14th seed in the boys 110 Hurdles (15.54).
More WHS TRACK, page B-10