By Harold Raker
For The Daily Item
LOCK HAVEN —
On a last-lap restart, most race drivers would prefer to be the hunter rather than the hunted.
That situation was ideal for Milton’s Wade Heidel on Friday night on the final leg of the final race in the Bald Eagle Invitational high school meet at Hubert Jack Stadium.
The junior took the final handoff of the 1,600-meter relay in second place and chased South Williamsport’s Ron Foran down the backstretch.
Coming out of the final turn, Heidel had a few more jets than his Mountaineers rival, and pulled ahead to give Milton the win in all three relays.
Milton won the team title with 131 points while next-door neighbor Warrior Run finished second in the 17-team event with 75.
Heidel also ran a leg on the winning 3,200 relay and won the 400 in 51.01 seconds, his second best career time.
Milton coach Tom Leeser, holding the team championship trophy in his hand, said, “This is a bonus.”
It was the first Lock Haven title for the Black Panthers, but Leeser was proud of the overall effort, especially the relays.
“We thought we had kids that were going to place and depending on (which teams) were here, we might have a chance, but it wasn’t a real focus. We try to put kids in their best events and tried to run three good relays,” he said.
He said he thinks the team has three real good relays, and said there was good competition in the 400 and 1,600.
The Black Panthers took the 3,200 relay with a team of Heidel, Gage Noll, Zack Lewis and Blake Wargo (in 8 minutes, 32.42 seconds) and the 400 relay (Tyler Porter, Greg Shultz, Josh Guthrie and Chris Reuss, in 44.87).
The other Milton winners were Josh Brown (186 feet, 10 ½ inches in the javelin) and Reuss (22.74 in the 200).
Warrior Run’s Jared McHenry added to his school record in the pole vault with a winning height of 14-6. Noah Rosencrans won the discus for the Defenders with a throw of 134-10 ½.
Richard Antonyuk, of Mifflinburg, won the triple jump with a 42-0 ½ leap.
Heidel was happy to see Foran ahead of him, but knew it would be a challenge.
“I hate running when there’s no one else around me because I don’t know how fast I’m going, and it makes it more fun,” he said.
“I know Foran is just as fast as I am. He has the ability to catch me and I have the ability to pull away, so I took it out as hard as I could and just tried to run him down on the last stretch with whatever I had left,” Heidel said.
“I run the corners as fast as I can and I like to pull away in the corners,” he added.
“I knew he was not right on my tail, but I knew he was coming.”
In the case of the 400, Heidel learned that sometimes mothers know best.
“At first, I wasn’t going to run the 400. I wasn’t feeling good today,” Heidel said. “But I asked my mom if I could scratch and she wouldn’t let me, so I figured I’d give it all I got and I went as hard as I could.”
Heidel and his teammates were ecstatic about winning the team title.
Said Heidel, “It’s great. I love our team. I think we can win districts this year. Last year we were runners-up and this year I’m looking for the title. I think we have a great all-around team.
Jenna Farmer made a late pass on a runner from Waverly (N.Y.) to give Lewisburg the win in the 1,600 relay to go with the Green Dragons’ first-place performance in the 3,200 relay. Lewisburg finished a solid second place in the team points, just a point and a half back of champion DuBois (88.5-87).
Joining Farmer in the 1,600 relay win were Kathryn Edwards, Blake Baylor and Lindsay Ayers. The team of Edwards, Jordan Hartzell, Maddie Scarr and Farmer won the 3,200 relay in 10:05.68.
Hartzell also won the 3,200 for the Green Dragons in 11:50.45; Baylor won the 1,600 in 5:20.54; and Mackenzie Moore took the 300 intermediate hurdles in 49.99.
Other Valley winners were Mifflinburg’s Kira Hoy (5-1 in the high jump) and Steph Shamburg, Warrior Run, 122-10 in the javelin.
Farmer said in the 800 she was just trying to make it past her own personal record, which was 2:19.5 so she was happy with the winning time of 2:19.12.
“It was great to go out there and run my own race,” she said.
In the 1,600 relay, Farmer said her philosophy is to maintain focus on the person in front of her rather than think about the competition behind her.
“So I wanted to stay on her back and close the gap and give it all I have on the final straightaway,” she said.
She caught the Waverly anchor with about 50 meters to go, but was never sure the race was hers. “You never know how much someone has left, but I have confidence in myself that I would give it my all,” she said.