Game of throws

Mifflin County sends 5 javelin throwers to podium

Sentinel photo by TAMI KNOPSNYDER
Mifflin County’s Cade Shoemaker attempts a javelin throw at the Distrct 6 Class 3A track and field championships Thursday in Altoona. Shoemaker won the event on the boys side.

ALTOONA — Maybe they should have called it Javelin High.

If in no other event, that’s where Mifflin County was able to stick it to the competition Thursday. The Huskies crowned two District 6 Class 3A champions in the event while five reached the medal stand — including the top three boys.

Junior Cade Shoemaker will make his first appearance at the PIAA track and field championships, while Skylar Ciccolini returns to Shippensburg. They were the boys and girls winners, respectively, in the district meet at Mansion Park.

Also advancing, both on the state qualifying time, were runners-up Chayce Macknair (1,600-meter run) and Seth Phillips (800 run).

Just as notable is the hurdler who didn’t make it, and the circumstances that kept him away. Michael Tate apparently won the 300-meter race, but an unusual disqualification gave Altoona’s Treyvaugn Toney a second attempt, and he undercut Tate by 2/10 of a second.

Shoemaker, whose 163-foot, 6-inch throw put him atop the podium, was surrounded by familiar faces — teammates Davis Wagner (second) and Hunter Sheaffer helped the Huskies sweep the medals.

“It’s nice having us all here. We’re all competing against each other all year and here it’s pretty much the same thing,” Shoemaker said.

He said all three have seen their distances improve during the season — by as much as 10 feet — and that none of the three has been the dominant thrower.

“It’s been a big swing,” he said. “We’ve all been pretty much around the same spot all year, it just pretty much fluctuated.”

Shoemaker comes from a baseball background but said he joined the Juniata Valley Striders and found his niche. He was the top seed and defended it, outperforming his seed mark by 2 feet. He will be without his teammates on the state runway.

“It’s a good opportunity and we’re going to see some really good competition. Hopefully I can get a view of that and do something,” he said.

His second throw was the winner.

“From there it was just, try to improve on it and if I didn’t I still had that to all back on,” he said.

Ciccolini, who said she’s excited to have Shoemaker at states, qualified with an early throw — her first was 118 feet, almost enough to win — but finished just two feet shy of her personal best and seven inches away from the meet record, set in 2010 by Indian Valley’s Laura Loht, with a 154-4 effort.

“My first throw was definitely rough — it was only 118. I gradually went up from there every throw, so I was happy about that,” she said. “I wasn’t worried. I knew I was doing what I needed to.”

And that was to follow her training, which paid off.

“After my second throw I knew that I qualified, so that gave me comfort in knowing I was going. After my third throw I was starting to feel more like myself,” she said.

Last year, she said, she felt out of place in Shippensburg, but performances at bigger meets — she was fourth at the Penn Relays, and won the Mid-Penn — have changed her outlook.

“It was definitely a big boost. I was actually thinking about that tonight,” she said of the Penn Relays. “I’m not really worried about placing at states. I’m a lot more comfortable this year going in than I was last year.

“I feel like I belong there.”

Phillips made an effort to win the 800 but said he was predominantly concerned about time — his kick, he said, was mainly intended to ensure State College’s Nick Feffer didn’t get off easy in the win.

And he might have won had he not fired the jets too soon.

In the long run, he got what he wanted — a trip to states, and a finish inside the state qualifying standard. His 1:55.22 was more than two seconds under.

“I came to this meet with a different mindset — it was to run time instead of place,” he said. “I’m not used to doing that. I felt confident doing the time.”

He pointed out that, in some districts, the advancing champion could be 10 or 15 seconds slower, and he likes knowing he hit the state mark.

“When you go to the state meet, you can say ‘I won my district.’ It’s more respectable to go there on time instead of place, I think,” he said.

After a state run in cross country in the fall, he’s looking to do well.

“The coaches are really putting me up. They’re not feeding me any negative energy, saying my time could really get me to finals if I push it, give it everything I have,” he said. “If I did it right, I could get a medal.”

Macknair went to Shippensburg in the 3,200 a year ago; he’s happy to make the shorter run this time out.

“The two-mile is right to the final and there are a lot of talented guys in that race,” he said. “Going in, I knew I had a better shot at the mile simply because I had been closer to the state qualifying time.”

He’s run within a few seconds of state time in the 3,200, but said, “That was a hard three seconds to shave off because I’m already going pretty fast” — not to mention a top-notch competitor from State College. He ran 4:23.55 in the mile.

Tate’s 300-meter hurdles race — the final heat, thus the presumptive finals — saw second-seed Chase Longenecker of State College disqualified when he fell, leaving his lane and interfering with Altoona’s Toney, the top seed. Toney, meet officials said, obstructed Tate as a result.

But both Toney and Tate finished the race, with Tate — seeded fourth — winning in 42.10 seconds.

Officials determined that, since Toney had been blocked, he was entitled to a second try. Tate also was allowed to run a second time, but opted not to — he would have been aligned by original seed, and would have had an undesirable lane that could have aided Toney.

Toney, running the event alone after the rest of the meet ended, ran 41.9 to win it. Tate also was runner-up in the 110 hurdles.

State College won the boys and girls team races. Mifflin County’s boys were third; the girls fourth out of eight teams.