By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL -- No matter what they are able to accomplish in today's invitational at Shippensburg University, Selinsgrove hurdlers Marissa Heddings, Mackenzie Apple and Kayla Swartz already saw the benefits of today's trip.
You see, had they not been scheduled to travel to Cumberland County this morning, the three would probably have been among the athletes who got drenched during the storms that rolled through the Silver Bowl here Friday night.
The trio finished 1-2-3 in the 100-meter high hurdles at the Gerald Breslin Invitational. It was the second consecutive invitational in which they accomplished that feat. They also did it last Saturday at Susquehanna University.
Heddings, Apple and Swartz have taken turns owning the Valley's best performance in the high hurdles.
First-year Selinsgrove girls co-coach Jeff Kiss said the competition among the three is what drives them as they make their way through the regular season.
"And all three of them are great sports about it," Kiss said. "All three are pushing each other in practice and in meets because, in most of these meets, one of them might finish first or second and in the next meet, it might be a completely different order."
He said the three are working hard to be the best hurdlers on their team and in the area.
"It's neat to see three girls, in both hurdles, who are pushing each other so hard, seeing them coming down the straightaway and seeing all that blue coming down together like that," Kiss said.
Heddings won Friday's race in a Valley season-best 16.17 seconds followed by Apple (16.80) and Swartz (16.84).
Apple is a sophomore and, Kiss said, "She put a lot of time in with me during the winter and it's paying off for her this year. She has been (setting personal records) almost every meet."
He said Apple has caught the other two with much-improved times from last year to get into the front-running mix.
The girls were unavailable for comment because, said Fish, "I sent them home because they are going to Shippensburg in the morning."
No team scores were available because of scoring problems in a meet that was rushed because of the impending bad weather. But the Seals looked like they would have won the team title in both the boys and girls meets.
Despite the weather conditions -- including a deluge during the running of the 3,200 meters -- there were five season-bests, including Heddings' race.
Mount Carmel's Eric Joraskie, one of three Valley athletes to win two events, hurled the disc a season-best 156 feet, 1 inch; Southern Columbia's Luke Rarig ran a best in the 110 high hurdles (15.0 seconds); Matt Gass, of Shamokin, ran a best in the 400 at 50.45; and Selinsgrove's Travis Lockcuff set a new season mark in the long jump; with a leap of 21-1.
The double winners were Joraskie, who also won the shot put with a 49-4¾ effort; Southern Columbia's Andrew Steely, who took the 800 in 2:01.13 and the 1,600 in 4:36.86; and Selinsgrove's Courtney McCartney, winning the shot in 42-9 and the discus in 114-10. McCartney was also scheduled to compete in Shippensburg.