---- — As you enjoy your morning coffee, or tea, this morning, athletes from as close as Shamokin and East Juniata to as far away as Athens and Sayre are warming up at Susquehanna University for what many of them hope will be the next to last weekend of track and field for the 2013 season.
Awards will be given for first through eighth places, but, for the Valley's Class AAA athletes, the only medal that will get them a ticket to next week's PIAA championships at Shippensburg University will be gold.
Unfortunately, for Shikellamy, Selinsgrove, Shamokin, Mifflinburg, Midd-West and Milton in boys and Shikellamy, Selinsgrove, Midd-West, Shamokin, Mifflinburg and Danville on the girls' side will need extraordinary performances to advance if they fail to finish first.
Even though, aside from Williamsport, the above-mentioned schools are at a huge disadvantage enrollment-wise over most of the Class AAA schools which will compete in Shippensburg.
For the rest of the Valley schools, competing in AA, their athletes will automatically advance to the state meet by finishing first or second.
The other way to punch a ticket to Shippensburg is to finish among the top eight and meet the state's qualifying standard.
In AAA, that's a tough ticket to punch.
It reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons when Bart pranks Moe with a phone call asking for Amanda Kiss-and-hug. When Moe asks why he can't find Amanda Kiss-and-hug, barfly Lenny yells out "Maybe your standards are too high."
That may be the case for many of the AAA athletes. For example, the Selinsgrove girls' 400-meter relay team is the No. 1 seed today with a season-best time of 51.52 seconds, but, if they don't win, they would need to cut that time to 49.96 to advance. The Seals' 1,600 relay team is top-seeded at 4:08.56, but, anything other than a first-place finish means they would have to slash their time to 4:02.50.
Danville's 3,200 relay team has run 13 seconds faster than its district championship team of last season (9:46.32 going into today), but would need to run 9:35.48 to advance with anything less than a gold medal today.
This makes today's 100-meter dash in boys' AAA even more exciting. It already shapes up as one of the most competitive events of the day, with the No. 9 seed, Milton's Tyrel Kling, running with 23-hundredths of a second of his teammate, top seed Chris Reuss (11.23).
Behind Reuss, the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds are Williamsport's Devin Miller (11.31) and Milton's Trevor Zimmerman and Shikellamy's Ryan Wary (both at 11.34), respectively.
To advance without winning the event, they will need to hit the line in 11.10.
If he were in AA, Reuss would be close to the state mark, which is 11.20.
There will be a lot on the line today at Nicholas A. Lopardo Stadium, which should make for a fun day for the fans, and, hopefully, the athletes.
n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school track and field. Email comments to email@example.com.