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No stopping Cole train Barons’ senior becomes Central’s first male athlete to win State track and field gold
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Two years ago in his sophomore season, Manheim Central’s Cole Proffitt missed going to the State Track and Field Championships by just a few inches in the javelin.
It was at that time that he made a promise to himself.
"I remember telling myself, ‘I’m going to win that,’" Proffitt recalled.
Last Saturday at wind-swept Shippensburg University, he did exactly that.
Executing a throw of 201 feet, 0 inches in the boys Triple-A javelin competition, the Penn State University recruit became Manheim Central’s first male track and field athlete to capture a PIAA State gold medal.
Actually, Proffitt could have won the gold with any of his top three throws, all of which were 191 feet, 4 inches and better.
Spring Ford junior Brandon Palaia took home the silver medal with a throw of 189-9.
"To bring the gold back to Manheim, that’s an awesome feeling," Proffitt said. "It’s been my dream since sophomore year. Watching (Cocalico’s) Kyle (Felpel) and (South Park’s) Billy Stanley beat me last year, that was tough. But it feels awesome. It’s a good feeling."
Overall, Proffitt is the fourth Manheim Central individual to win a State Track and Field title, and the first since Beverly (Paine) Geib won triple jump gold in back-to-back years in 1979 (37-6!-W) and 1980 (38-5!-W). Cathy Roland took the triple jump in 1978 (38-10!-R) and Pam (Shenenberger) Ibach won the 440-yard dash in 59.0 seconds.
For Proffitt, Saturday’s competition capped a whirlwind five weeks. On April 26, he earned a gold watch thanks to a first-place school-record throw of 205-11 at the historic Penn Relays.
Two weeks later, Proffitt repeated as the L-L League javelin champ (204-1), then followed that with his first-ever District championship (196-6) one week later and finally capped his post-season trifecta with last Saturday’s State-winning performance.
"Last week (at Districts), I wasn’t as happy about how I threw," Proffitt said, "and then to win Leagues and win all three, that’s awesome. We’ve been working hard on the runway and it’s good to finally have a reward."
Afterward, surrounded by a hoard of reporters on the infield of Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, Proffitt acknowledged that winning gold at Penn Relays ranked at the top of his list. But grabbing the PIAA championship was a very special accomplishment in its own right.
"(The Penn Relays is) just an all-around huge meet, huge meet," Proffitt said. "Everyone knows about (the State Championships) a little bit more back at home, but as a track community, I would say Penn Relays. But this is going to feel a lot better coming back home winning a State championship."
The fact that he was the only thrower to break 200 feet in very blustery conditions couldn’t be overlooked. Proffitt was certainly in the right mindset to deal with the gusts after competing in similar winds at the Shippensburg Invitational on April 20, where he won the silver with a throw of 179-9.
"It was cold and windy and just like this, just as windy, and it was a crosswind, so that was a little bit more rough," Proffitt said. "But it kinda gave me the experience to focus more and ignore the wind. And I think if you wait on it, it’s already in your head. So you’ve just got to go with it and just attack it right away instead of waiting."
Proffitt definitely didn’t wait after Palaia grabbed the early driver’s seat with a heave of 189-9 on his first throw of the trials. Nine competitors later, the Barons’ senior took a lead he never relinquished by throwing 191-4.
He then took a stranglehold on the top spot with his eventual winning heave of 201-0 on his second attempt.
"It felt pretty good (leaving my hand)," Proffitt recalled. "I said, ‘Come on,’ like I do when I hit a good one. But I really just tried to rip it on that one. I had the confidence after throwing that 190 in the beginning and then I just wanted unleash on that one."
As others tried to catch Proffitt, he unleashed yet another gem on his third effort, stepping up with a throw of 192-5.
Seeded third entering the competition behind Boyertown’s Ethan Shalaway (208-8) and Baldwin’s Luke Smorey (200-3), Proffitt claimed the top spot going into the finals. And that’s when the waiting game began.
He took one warm-up throw and then bided his time.
Asked if the break seemed to drag a little bit, Proffitt said laughing, "Yeah, I felt like it was a little bit longer than usual sitting there waiting to throw. I had a runway throw in warm-up, but yeah, I was a little antsy."
While obviously hoping that his throw would hold up, Proffitt was also focusing on ripping off an even longer toss.
"You just got to kinda wait for it and hope they can’t beat you," he remarked. "But you want to just keep on focusing on putting another one out there that they can’t touch."
As it turned out, his lead was safe. Smorey’s throw of 184-9 was the best one in the finals, but still short of his 188-0 which he had in the trials to earn the bronze medal.
Shalaway, who claimed the District One title, was fifth at States at 179-11.
Knowing the distance that Shalaway threw one week earlier in Districts, Proffitt, when asked if he thought that he would need a 208-foot throw for State gold, said, "Not after seeing the wind. I figured a 200 would lock it away. This wind is crazy."
Several months ago, Proffitt wasn’t even sure he would be throwing the javelin this spring, let alone be reaching 200 feet. Coming off a foot injury during football season, he decided to have surgery and hope for the best.
That probably seemed like a long time ago last Saturday.
"It’s been a great ride," Proffitt said. "At the beginning of the season, I sat down with coach (Scott) Krall and I pretty much said, ‘Let’s get the surgery now on my foot.’ I thought there was no chance of me throwing this season and I’d only be, like, long jumping and running the 100 and stuff like that, just trying to get the team points. It was tough. But we had a conversation and we started thinking positive, doing the therapy, working really hard. Then I was able to throw and that’s a blessing in itself. But coach Wise, coach Butts, and coach Adams, all the coaches, they’ve been helping so much. It’s been great."
Elsewhere, Peters competed in Friday’s girls 1600 and finished 12th in her preliminary heat in 5:18.05. On Saturday in the girls 3,200, she placed 23rd overall in 11:31.45.
The Manheim Central boys 4×800 relay finished 12th in their preliminary heat on Friday in a time of 8:23.70, and Barons’ freshman was 16th in the boys shot put with a throw of 48-6.
More PROFFITT, page B-10
Manheim Central’s Golden Track and Field History
1980Beverly GeibTriple Jump38-51/2
1979Beverly GeibTriple Jump37-61/2
1978Cathy RolandTriple Jump38-101/4
1975Pam Shenenberger440-Yard Dash59.0