Swineford gets gold, advances

WILLIAMSPORT — Even though Kailey Swineford was sitting on top after a series of preliminary-round throws, Midd-West’s senior shot putter was keeping an eye on her fellow competitors just in case she needed to find some extra muscle in the tank.

As it turned out, Swineford’s early work was good enough.

Popping a 36-4 on her final throw of the prelims, that heave proved to be more than enough Saturday to win the District 4 Class 2A girls shot put title. In addition to standing on the top step of the medal podium at Williamsport High School’s sunny STA Stadium, Swineford’s gold-medal effort meant the Midd-West competitor would be heading to the PIAA championships for the first time.

“I am super happy,” said Swineford, whose top throw bested runner-up Morgan Millard of Troy by 10 inches and third-place finisher Munayyah Meredith of Lewisburg by 14. “I waited until my senior year to finally get first. I got third when I was a freshman, third when I was a sophomore, second when I was a junior. I finally got first and I’m flying really high right now.”

While Swineford was flying high earlier as the shot put competition played out, she continued to monitor Millard, Meredith and Athens’ Ariana Gambrell just to make sure they didn’t unleash a throw better than hers.

“I was kind of nervous at the beginning because the one girl behind me was throwing what I was throwing, so I was like, ‘All right, it’s time to step up,'” said Swineford, who is seeded eighth heading into the state meet. “My coaches told me not to watch other people, just worry about you, but I’m very much a person who likes to see what other people throw. It helps me. It pushes me to throw farther.”

Even though Swineford’s throws in the finals covered 33-11, 35-2¢ and 36-0¢ and didn’t measure up to her earlier work, she threw far enough to land that long-awaited state invite.

“I’m excited,” Swineford said. “(Getting to states) was like my main goal over four years and I knew a district title would get me there, so I’m really happy right now.”

Among the other Mustangs who returned to Snyder County with hardware tucked snugly amid their travel gear included sophomore Makenna Dietz, who finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles after recording a career-best 48.58. Leah Ferster was just a few steps away from Swineford with her sixth-place hardware in the same event.

Senior Shayla Heckman won’t be returning to the state championship meet, but she closed out her high school career by finishing sixth in the 200-meter dash with a season-best 26.73. Heckman also was eighth in the 400. Dietz, Heckman, Alyssa Keister and Emma Shellenberger recorded a season-best 4:10.95 in the 4×400-meter relay that earned the Mustangs a fifth-place finish.

Midd-West’s girls finished in 12th place with 25 points.

The Midd-West boys closed out their 2019 season by placing in three events, totaling five points and finishing in 17th place in the Class AA team standings.

Sophomore Stefan Leitzel clocked a career-best 52.85 that earned him an eighth-place finish, while senior Keenan Dietz popped a 42.63 in the 300 hurdles and finished sixth.

Leitzel, Dietz, Dominick Abate and Kameron Kline combined to finish sixth in the 4×400 relay, recording a season-best time (3:33.85) in the process.

East Juniata put one competitor on the medal stand during the two-day event, as junior Clarye Guyer finished fifth in the Class 2A javelin with a career-best throw (116-5).

“Fantastic, fantastic,” Tigers coach Cory Benner said. “She came in this year with a 106-0 PR and she improved that to 111, where she was sort of at all season. And then she tacked on another five feet (to get to) 116-5 — which is five feet away from states.

“So, I think she’s going to be throwing at states next year.”

District 3 track and field

SHIPPENSBURG — Mallory Kauffman earned her second gold medal in District 3 Saturday to lead a handful of Greenwood girls into the PIAA track and field championships.

The Wildcats as a team finished second in the two-day district meet.

Kauffman, who broke a 21-year-old meet record on Friday, added the shot put to her state resume again, throwing 46 feet, 3 3/4 inches to win the event in Class 2A.

Also grabbing the gold was Abigail Taylor in the triple jump (35-6 1/4). And the 4×400-meter relay foursome of Abrielle Weger, Samantha Schreiber, Hailey Womer and Paityn Wirth won their event in 4:07.92.

Wirth also advanced individually in the 300 hurdles, finishing second. Also a runner-up to move on was Amiyah Priebe in the 3,200 run.