Lucas captures L-L League gold
Warwick track teams win 11 medals, shatter two school records
In baseball analogy, Warwick’s David Lucas was swinging for the fences last Saturday in the discus.
He didn’t hit a home run.
But the Warrior junior still went deep at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championships.
His throw of 167 feet, 1 inch was good enough to claim his first L-L gold medal, leading the Warwick track and field teams at Hempfield High School.
“I stepped up and I tried to hit a really big throw and that wasn’t in the cards,” Lucas said. “You’ve just got to step up and trust your technique. I threw a 167 &tstr; not my best throw, not my best day. But I was very excited to walk out as a League champ.”
As a team, Warwick was excited to walk out with 11 L-L medals and a couple of school records. Senior Aaron Martin added a silver in the 800 (2:00.25), senior Seth Spykstra took home a pair of bronze medals in the 1,600 (4:33.26) and 3,200 (9:53.86), while sophomore Ian Harpel placed fourth in the 400 (51.15) along with winning a fifth-place medal with the 4×400 relay (3:29.52) and sixth-place hardware with the 4×100 (43.91).
The 4×100 relay, consisting of Harpel, Hamzah Dawood, Daniel Gates and Antonio Rodriguez shattered the school mark of 44.4 seconds, previously set in 1986 by the foursome of Mike Wood, Chris Ulrich, Jed Althouse and Blake Bender, and again in 1989 by Brian Kerstetter, Nelson Mumma, Marc Goodhart and Jed Althouse. Meanwhile junior pole vaulter Linn Bjanes tied Gail Clair’s school record of 9 feet, 0 inches, set in 2006.
As a team, the Warrior boys finished sixth with 37 total points. Their place in the team standings probably would have been higher with a healthy Alex McCord competing in the long jump and high jump. McCord, unfortunately, still wasn’t 100 percent from a hamstring injury.
“We’re happy. On the whole I think the kids did real, real well,” Warwick head coach Alex Daecher said. “It’s a shame McCord didn’t get to jump. I know it was the right move (holding him out for Districts), but I kinda would have liked to see us do well with him there too.”
In addition to Bjanes, the Lady Warriors were led by sophomore Sheridan McNeill, who tied for the silver medal in the high jump (5-0), sophomore Erika Echternach, a bronze medalist in the 1,600 (5:25.50), Amanda Graber, who placed fifth in the 3,200 (11:58.91) and the 4×800 foursome of Echternach, Graber, Leigha Martin and Sam Shields, who took fifth in a season-best 10:05.98.
Lucas’ 167-1 wasn’t a season-best in the discus, but it was easily tops in the field of L-L throwers. Norlebco’s Matt Vines was the silver medalist with a throw of 141-6.
“It was a really nice feeling to be on top of that big medal stand that I’ve been looking at for such a long time,” said Lucas, who won L-L bronze a year ago at 145 feet, 7 inches.
It didn’t come easily, however. After unleashing his eventual winning throw on the first attempt of trials, Lucas admittedly began psyching himself out looking for a big throw.
“I think I was getting to myself mentally that day,” Lucas said. “I’m not really too sure why, but for some reason I think I started to think of trying to throw so far or trying to hit such distance and then I just tried to force throws that you can’t force. When you get to the point where you start to really get to competing agianst the big boys in the state, you can’t force those big throws. That’s just something that you have to trust your technique and let it happen.”
Knowing that Elizabethtown’s two-seeded Austin Brinser’s best throw this season was a 157-5, Lucas was confident that his 167-1 would get him to the finals. There, he had a throw of 163 feet on his final attempt of the finals.
With Lucas also having qualified for the finals in the 200, Daecher thought that might have affected him mentally. If Lucas had decided to compete in that event, it would have been between his second and third discus throws.
“I think that was kinda on his mind too,” Daecher said. “He kinda wanted to do it, but he really knew that discus is his bread and butter. He made the right choice. He ended up not doing the 200 and staying up to do the disc. But I think that kinda threw him off a little bit deciding should he go run it or should he not go run it.”
There will be no such decisions this Friday at the District Championships, for which Lucas has qualified in both the shot put and discus.
“I think any nervousness of performing on a big stage is out of his system,” Daecher said. “He’s been in one of the biggest venues at Penn Relays, so going to Districts and going to States I don’t think is going to be an issue.”
“I was very excited and very honored to get the gold at the L-L Track Meet,” said Lucas, who also placed eighth in the 100 in PR time of 11.28 seconds, “but looking at it in the wider perspective, taking the gold at the L-L Track meet is a stepping stone toward bigger and better goals as we continue to progress through the season.”
The L-L gold medal that Lucas won marked his fifth top finish this spring, including four Invitationals.
“It’s just a long line of gold medals that he’s going to win,” Daecher said.
Bjanes, unfortunately, didn’t come home with a medal in the pole vault, but she did earn a little bit of history by tying the school record in that event by clearing the bar at 9 feet, 6 inches. That easily topped her previous best of 8-6.
“(Historically), we’ve not been a real good pole vaulting school,” Daecher said, “but coach (Dan) Shelley’s new to it and he’s done a real good job.”
Warwick’s distance runners, too, did a real good job at Leagues. Spykstra’s time of 9:53.86 in the 3,200 was close to his PR of 9:51.5, leading at one point until McCaskey’s Duncan Hopkins (9:46.90) and Penn Manor’s Austin Stetler (9:51.01) passed him late in the race.
“He wanted to take over the race in lap five and he did,” Warwick distance coach Ed Nixdorf said. “What happened is he got separated at the start of the race a little too much and had to do too much to surge back to get in position to take the lead. He just didn’t have it the last lap and a half and got passed by two people.”
Spykstra qualified for Districts in the 3,200 with his time of 9:51.5, giving him the 16th seed, as did Martin (19th) in the 800, the boys 4×800 (Matt Polonus, Spykstra, Michael Urban, Will Howland, Martin, Clayton Bender) which has the 9th seed, and 4×400 (Daniel Gates, Banner Samuelson, Ben Bollinger, Harpel, Josh Martin, Donnie Garner), which holds the 10th seed, and Echternach (20th) in the 1,600.
“(Erika)’s just solid all-around in the distance,” Daecher said. “Ian Harpel and Aaron Martin did very well. Both our (boys) relays should do pretty well Friday and Saturday at Districts. We’re excited to see them.”
Unfortunately, Graber fell a little bit short in the 3,200 despite improving her previous personal-best (12:10.3) by 11 seconds.
“Mandy looked great,” Nixdorf said. “Her strategy was to try to get under 12:00 and earn a medal and she did both.”
The girls 4×800 relay missed Districts by only four seconds despite a valiant effort in Saturday’s action. In their first time running together this season, Martin and Echternach both ran splits of 2:32.3, Shields posted a 2:26.7 and Graber, after running in the 3,200 on Friday, had a solid time of 2:34.2.
“From my point of view, we came within two seconds of what I thought was our very best that we could have run and they ran well &tstr; very well,” Nixdorf remarked.
Echternach and McNeill will be the Warwick girls’ only two representatives at Districts. With her effort of 5-0 in the high jump on Saturday, tying her with Manheim Township’s Caitlin Hickey, McNeill nearly equaled her personal-best of 5-2.
“I was very happy with Sheridan,” Daecher said. “That was fantastic for her.”
In his first time at Leagues, junior Adam Wagaman took seventh in the shot put (46-10) and barely missed winning a medal, as Cocalico’s Abdul Saad edged him out on his final throw (46-10#-R) for the sixth-place hardware.
“I was very impressed with Adam,” Daecher said.
Mike Hoffman ran his best race in the 110 High Hurdles while placing seventh in 15.10 seconds and qualifying for Districts, the boys 4×800 took seventh in 8:42.37 and Shields chipped in with an eighth-place finish in the girls 800 in 2:27.20.