---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- During a freshman year in which he dazzled fans on the football field, Selinsgrove's Juvan Batts was not living up to his own expectations in his rookie track and field season.
Recently, though, things started to improve, and on a day when the Seals needed him the most, Batts did what he said he wanted to do in Tuesday's dual-meet season finale.
"I knew it was time for me to step it up," he said, shortly after taking a much deserved rest on the Harold L. Bolig Memorial Stadium turf.
Batts and his teammates gave coach Ryan McGuire his first undefeated season and first Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I championship with an 84-66 win over Williamsport.
Batts won the 200-meter dash in a personal-best 23.19 seconds, anchored the Seals' winning 400 relay team, which turned in a PR with a 44.43, and took second to teammate Travis Lockcuff in the 100 with an 11.43.
"I was really pumped because I knew we would have a tough meet with Williamsport," Batts said.
A proud coach McGuire told his team afterward that he was pleased with how they got out to a fast start and that it was key to beating a quality Williamsport team.
The two squads came into the meet unbeaten for a winner-take-all HAC-I championship meet.
Although he cautioned his team to keep their eyes on the big prize -- a goal to win the District 4 Class AAA title in two weeks -- the third-year head coach said, "This is special to me because this is my first division title. Lewisburg and Williamsport have been winning the last few years."
Although he hadn't checked on all of them, McGuire said there were "a bunch" of personal bests on the day for the Seals (7-0 overall, 6-0 HAC-I).
Both Lockcuff (11.42) and Batts had PRs in the 100, along with Batts in the 200, and, McGuire said, Batts' ran a PR in his split on the 1,600 relay "B" team. Others included John Daku (second in the shot put, 45-11 1/2) and Mason Pope (second in the 400, 52.34).
McGuire said, despite the fast start, with his team leading the Millionaires (6-1, 5-1) by nine points at the halfway point and by 51-39 through 12 recorded events, "I was still nervous. Williamsport is a great team," he said.
He also noted that it may have been closer had the Millionaires not been missing one of their top point-scorers in Devin Miller.
Williamsport coach Sam Belle agreed that Miller's absence (the reason for which he declined to reveal) took points away in the sprints and jumps, as well as possibly the 400 relay.
But, he said, his team scored more points in the distance races than he expected and got a few unexpected points in the throws.
"We had some nice things happen and the kids realize it is not over and they can rise to the occasion," Belle said.
Lockcuff and Parks were double-winners for the Seals. In addition to the 100, Lockcuff took the triple jump in 20 feet, 8 inches. Parks won the shot put (46-8) and the discus (130-6).
n Selinsgrove 80, Williamsport 70
The Seals duplicated their male counterparts' achievement with an unbeaten season and the HAC-I title, the second in a row for Selinsgrove.
If Williamsport (5-2, 4-2) had won, the Seals and Shikellamy would have been tied in the division at 5-1.
Shikellamy beat Williamsport last week, but Seals co-coach Jeff Kiss said he told his girls going into Tuesday's meet that the Millionaires matched up better with the Seals.
Selinsgrove (7-0, 6-0) only outscored Williamsport in four of the track events and nine overall, but some key wins on the track and domination in the throws and the long and triple jumps made the difference.
Courtney McCartney won the shot put (43-10) and discus (120-11), and Alexis Auman took the 400 dash (1:03.18) and triple jump (34-0).
Kayla Swartz, who anchored the Seals' winning 400 and 1,600 relays also helped the team's cause when she gutted out a win over Millionaires' standout Jaid Harsch in the 300 intermediate hurdles. She came from behind and nipped her at the line by eight-hundredths of a second with a time of 49.08.