Garner repeats as District Three champ

By on May 24, 2017
Warwick senior Eric Garner prepares to release his gold-medal winning throw of 200 feet, 6 inches in the District Three Triple-A boys javelin last Saturday at Shippensburg University. Photo by Casey Kreider

Warwick’s Eric Garner wins the 3A boys javelin at the District Three Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University on Saturday, May 21.

Eric Garner couldn’t wait for the District Three Triple-A Track and Field Meet.

The Warwick senior had taken a silver medal in the javelin at the L-L Championships a week earlier, just behind Penn Manor’s Alex Scheivert in an ongoing friendly rivalry between the two throwers.

Runner-up wasn’t going to cut it at Shippensburg University last Saturday.

“Like I said last week,” Garner smiled, “I may have lost the Lancaster-Lebanon (title), but I was coming today. I was pumped up.”

That adrenaline was firing on all cylinders for his third throw of the trials, when he uncorked a heave of 200 feet, 6 inches, enabling Garner to repeat as the District champ.

Scheivert, who lost to Garner in a dual meet on April 24, won the silver medal at 193-11, while Lampeter-Strasburg’s Josh Eidemiller claimed bronze with a throw of 182-7.

“I know last week (Eric) was mad that he didn’t win the L-L Meet,” Warwick coach Alex Daecher said. “He’s been going back-and-forth with Scheivert and this week, it was kinda like, ‘I need to get back on top here.’ I know (Eric) wasn’t happy that he lost to him last week and I think he had a little more of a fire in his belly to do well.”

Garner wasn’t the only one to do well for Warwick. Senior Drayk Cassamajor claimed a fifth-place medal in the 800 in 1:56.89, senior John Wilson took fifth in the high jump at 6-2, and sophomore Connor Shields placed sixth in the 1,600 in a PR time of 4:23.67, all qualifying for the PIAA Championships to be held this Friday and Saturday back at Shippensburg. Senior Caleb Christner added an eighth-place medal in the pole vault (13-6), helping the Warwick boys finish 10th in the team standings with 21 1/2 points.

Nearly half of those points came from Garner, who had throws of 192 and 196 on his first two efforts.

“I definitely had a good flight, better than my other ones,” he recalled.

The University of Nebraska recruit was close enough to the 200-foot mark that he could taste it. Sure enough, his third throw was the charm.

Garner looked over at his parents, Dave and Sue, and coach Alex Daecher and gave a fist pump after reaching the mark.

“Usually, on a further throw that I have, I’m more relaxed, “ Garner said. “and I definitely felt relaxed on that throw … My first throws were pretty close to the 200-foot mark, so I told (the District officials with the measuring tape), ‘Just let me know when it’s past that mark.’ They all gave me the thumbs up and I was so pumped up.”

He opened up in the finals with a throw of 186-8, and by the time his last attempt came, knowing that the title was in the bag, Garner was able to celebrate a little bit.

“Josh (Eidemiller) and I were talking and we were like, ‘Let’s just both get a scream here,’” he smiled. “Once I knew I had won, I just let it go. It was fun.”

Daecher said that Garner made a couple small tweaks in his technique during his week of practice and the adjustments paid dividends.

“When you’re a javelin thrower and you get a good one, when it comes out, I think you just know automatically that it’s a good throw,” Daecher said. “His goal is to win the State Meet, and I think he’s done a great job of listening to coaching and advice from multiple people and it’s paying off. I think he can throw 210. I think he’s got it in him and the potential is obviously there.”

Cassamajor dropped his seed time by .60-hundredths of a second while taking fifth in the 800 in 1:56.89, not far behind Cumberland Valley’s fourth-place Yahya Soliman (1:56.62).

Shields, meanwhile, capitalized on a strong final lap in the 1,600, passing four runners to move up to the sixth spot in 4:23.67 for his first District medal.

“I just wanted to make it to the State Meet and PR,” Shields said. “I knew I had to get top eight because I knew the race would be pretty fast. Everybody just wanted to run a good time to make it. I just wanted to stay in the race, not go out too fast, and kick it in at the end.”

In the end, Shields shaved nearly a second off his seed time of 4:24.59.

McCaskey’s Nathan Henderson won the race in 4:13.69.

“Connor was great,” Daecher said. “He really turned it on. I was starting to get worried there after lap two and I was like, ‘He’d better go.’ And that last lap, he went out and just started (picking off runners) … If you notice with a bunch of our kids, you don’t see them tailing off at the end of races and I think that’s a lot to do with (assistants) Matt (Bomberger) and Bobby (Rhoads) and their coaching and their build-up for kids that they’re not dragging at the end of races. They’ve got some still in the tank to jump kids who are dying.”

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