Kauffman, Baublitz excel on Day 1
SHIPPENSBURG — Mallory Kauffman made it well known at the District 3 Class 2A track and field championships that she was going to be the heavy favorite in the discus entering the PIAA championships in Shippensburg after breaking a longstanding district record set by East Juniata’s Heather Colyer.
Coming in as the top seed with a throw of 160 feet, 3 inches, Kauffman reared back and shot for a personal best and had already locked up the gold medal with a throw of 145 feet before her last attempt.
With another one of Colyer’s marks in mind — the state record of 162 feet, 10 inches –Kauffman was dialed in.
“I got chills over my whole body, and I was about to go into the circle, so it added that fire pumping through my veins,” Kauffman said. “It was so much nicer entering my last throw knowing that I had (the gold medal) secured.”
While Kauffman fell short of the state record, she comes away with her first of what could be two gold medals this weekend, with a final throw of 151-7 inches.
“It means a lot,” Penn State-bound Kauffman said of her accomplishment. “Over the past year, I’ve really been working at discus and shot put, so to come in and win a gold, I’m really proud of that. It means so much. Just to represent Greenwood and come out with a gold, it means a lot to me.”
Kauffman’s dead-eye approach was evident as her attention quickly shifted to the shot put as she stepped off the podium. She is the top seed in that event as well, with a top mark coming in of 46-3 3/4.
“I’m so excited for shot tomorrow,” Kauffman said. “As soon as the discus was over, I looked over to the shot circle and was ready to go. I’ve been practicing a lot this week in the shot and I just know it’s super close. I’m really confident heading into tomorrow morning.”
Juniata’s Garrett Baublitz had an outstanding day, coasting to first-place finishes in his heats in both the 1,600-meter run and the 800-meter run to advance to Day 2 of the PIAA meet. Baublitz is competing at states after reaching in each of his three seasons and showed poise in advancing.
“It felt great to be honest,” Baublitz said, referring to covering the mile with a time of 4:27.02 — 12 seconds behind his qualifying time. “I felt very comfortable. I don’t think it will leave me tight for tomorrow. I wanted to grab first to get a good starting spot for tomorrow.”
Baublitz focuses his attention to the 1,600 — his top race — while he originally considered the 800 a bonus. Baublitz will battle it out with Grove City’s Jonah Powell in the 800, while trying to keep his top seed and grab gold in the 1,600 and hold off Penns Valley’s Colton Sands.
“I feel a lot faster time coming on,” Baublitz said. “I want to see my District PR come down even more. I feel it. It was a good week of practice and I’m really confident.”
Along with Kauffman, freshman teammate Emma Roltson had a stellar performance in the high jump, tying her career-best by clearing 5-2 inches. Roltson landed on the podium tied for eighth place.
“It was pretty exciting and definitely a lot of fun,” Roltson said. “I was a little shaky coming in since it was my first time, but I felt pretty confident after clearing the five-foot mark. I’m pretty happy with how it ended.”
Roltson said she entered with nerves but was particularly happy to tie her season best clear after earning a big personal record after struggling to clear 4 feet, 6 inches, earlier in the year.
“My coaches were telling me to calm down and stuff and my nerves were pretty high,” Roltson said. “Once I got over five feet, I felt fine because I would be happy with that too. I just hope to keep working at it. It was good. I’m pretty happy with how it ended.”
The two Greenwood girls were the only field contestants Friday, thus the only ones who could medal.
Also advancing for Juniata is Jeremiah Parson, who survived a close 400-meter dash after finishing in third-place in his heat. Jitters, blistering heat and wind hit Parson, but he persevered with a time of 51.03 seconds.
“I just felt kind of drained,” Parson said. “The sun and the nerves combined. I just tried to go up there and survive until the finals and be ready tomorrow. I could just tell I wasn’t feeling the same and I didn’t have that quick burst that I normally have. I’m fortunate enough to make the finals.”
Paityn Wirth of Greenwood advanced to the finals in the 300 hurdles with a qualifying time of 46.37 seconds after finishing second in her heat. Wirth hopes to push for a PR around 45 seconds on Saturday. The senior — known better for field hockey has advanced in the state championships in each of her four years.
“I woke up this morning feeling pretty good,” Wirth said. “I would like to do what I’ve done in my past years at states.”
Other competitors on the track for Juniata included Will Tyson, Clay Yeager and two relays for the Indians, the girls 4×100- and boys 4×400-meters.
Tyson competed in both the 110 and 300-meter hurdles despite battling an illness but came up short of advancing to the next round. Like others, Tyson battled through a strong cross-wind and heat that kept track speeds slightly slower.
“It’s very exciting to experience,” Tyson said. “It’s a different feeling. It’s different than any other race I’ve ran before with a whole other level of talent than you would see at districts. Everyone pulls to get better times. It’s hard to explain and adrenaline keeps you going.”
Yeager made a strong performance in the 800 and knocked a little bit off his time at districts. Yeager was happy with his performance, finishing with a time of 2:02.42.
“All season my goal was to make states,” Yeager said. “At districts, I was a little nervous but today was all about just having a final race and seeing if I could make it to tomorrow. I’m happy with it, I beat my time a little bit and I’m happy with where I was. I would’ve liked to make it into the final, but I’ll work for that next year.”
Juniata’s 4×400 allowed Tad Shellenberger to advance into the PIAA meet and compete while his teammates had already appeared in multiple events during the day and were resting for Saturday. Shellenberger ran a strong first leg in the relay before the group, which had a lower seed, ran comfortably to finish the race.
Shellenberger was grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s just awesome to have people around me like that,” Shellenberger said. “Jeremiah, a senior who ran the 400, didn’t have to run this with finals tomorrow. Clay didn’t make it to the finals but could have headed home like everyone else, but he stayed and ran with us and still ran.
“This is the end of the season and where you peak. Everything builds up to this moment,” he continued. “Next year it gives me more motivation to make it next year and compete next year.”
Juniata’s 4×100 comprising senior Zoe Burns, along with Anna Stroup, Nylah Pannebaker and Ashlyn Pannebaker reached a personal best for the fourth time this season, knocking even more time of their school record with a finish of 51.43 seconds.
“We weren’t last,” Burns said with a laugh. “It was an accomplishment and we PR’ed by a lot. We couldn’t ask for much more and it’s not like we were expecting to make it into the finals. I’d say we definitely reached our goal. It was nice to get to run one last time.”
Greenwood’s girls 4×400 relay of Abrielle Weger, Samantha Schreiber, Hailey Womer and Wirth came up short of advancing.
Juniata, Greenwood and Midd-West will have multiple competitors vying for podium finishes on Saturday. Juniata will be represented by Baublitz in the 1,600 and 800, Parson in the 400, Megan Brubaker in the triple jump and Chase Lehman in the pole vault.
Greenwood will return Kauffman in the shot put, Wirth in the 300 hurdles, Amiyah Priebe in the 3,200 and Abigail Taylor in the triple jump.
Kailey Swineford will be Midd-West’s lone representative, in the shot put.
Discus: 1. Mallory Kauffman, Greenwood, 151-7
High jump: 8T, Emma Roltson, Greenwood, 5-
300 hurdles: Paityn Wirth, 46.37, Greenwood, qualified
4×100 relay: Juniata, 51.43
4×400 relay: Greenwood, 4:08.86.
110 hurdles: Will Tyson, Juniata, 16.83
1,600-meter run: Garrett Baublitz, Juniata, 4:27.02, qualified
800-meter run: Garrett Baublitz, Juniata 1:58.43, qualified; Clay Yeager, Juniata, 2:02.45
400 dash: Jeremiah Parson, Juniata, 51.03, qualified
300 hurdles: Will Tyson, Juniata, 42.32
800-meter run: Garrett Baublitz, Juniata, 1:58.43, qualified