3A: Hard-luck Huskies fall short on track

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Mifflin County’s Seth Phillips (382) runs in the Class 3A 800-meter preliminary during the state track and field championships Friday at Shippensburg University. Phillips did not qualify for the final.

SHIPPENSBURG — Mifflin County entered the 2019 PIAA Class 3A track and field championships with high expectations.

After elite finishes at the District 6 Class 3A championships, the Huskies were hoping to continue to peak and enter states with a chance for multiple podium finishes. Instead, the Huskies realized just how demoralizing a tough day against the best competition in the state can be.

Mifflin County’s Chayce Macknair, Seth Phillips and Ella Spriggle all recorded numbers below their seed times Friday and were unable to advance to Day 2 of the state championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

For Spriggle, the lone underclassman in competition Friday, the moment is relished as a learning experience, one that she hopes will allow her to develop against top competition. She finished with a time of 15.91 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, after clearing the race in 15.30 seconds at districts on May 16.

“It was a really big accomplishment (to make states) and I’m really happy that I made it here,” Spriggle said. “I would’ve wished for maybe a little bit better of a race but it’s my first time here. I’m just happy that I made it here. It’s good for the experience and I hope that I can come back stronger next year.”

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Mifflin County’s Chayce Macknair runs the 1,600 in Class 3A. He did not advance, but will run in today’s 3,200-meter race.

Spriggle admitted that she struggled with nerves before the events and said that her biggest area of improvement next year will have to be in handling the pressure better.

“I just can’t get all worked up about it,” Spriggle said. “I need to focus on next year. It’s hard, because I get nervous a lot, but I try to calm myself and just focus on my race.”

Macknair and Phillips, both seniors, were left with bitter tastes in their mouths.

Macknair is been one of the best distance runners in Mifflin County history and earned his fourth ticket to the PIAA meet in Shippensburg, where he will compete collegiately in the fall. Medaling in the mile was a personal goal for Macknair this season and one that he has admittedly struggled with, having failed to make it out of the prelims in each of his two previous trips to the state meet in the mile.

Unfortunately for Macknair, history repeated itself.

Macknair found himself stuck at the back of a 12-man pack before using a daring surge to get himself around the outside of the field. He led for the first two laps but quickly ran into trouble and couldn’t maintain his pace throughout the last half of the 1,600-meter run.

“I spent my first 400 just trying to get out of the back and people just keep pushing and I found myself with a hole where I could break free,” Macknair said. “I had it for a while and decided I was just going for the win and if it works, whatever. Obviously, it didn’t work out. That’s just how it is I guess.”

Macknair will shift his focus to the 3,200-meter run where he enters as the 15th seed with a time of 9:36.09. He ran in that race here as a freshman.

His goal is simple.

“Just to get a medal,” Macknair said.

Having taken hardware home from the state cross country, indoor and even this meet (as part of the 4×800 relaya year ago), he knows what it takes to do so.

Phillips saw his illustrious Mifflin County career come to an end in the 800-meter run, where he struggled to get out of the middle of a fast pack, forcing him to exert too much energy to gain positioning. Phillips was in good shape until the final stretch, where he ran out of gas.

“I had to do so much in that race and got boxed in from the start,” Phillips said. “I got clipped once in the home stretch and once in the back stretch. I just tried to push through all of it and I couldn’t. I couldn’t hold on in the last 100.”

Phillips, who will compete collegiately at Rhode Island next year, also was apart of the medal-status relay a year ago — in fact, it was largely his anchor run that clinched it. But he had the same issues with traffic in last year’s open 800, falling — literally — in the final.

The Huskies will be well represented in Day 2 of the PIAA meet, where Macknair will return to the track in the 3,200-meter run and the Ciccolini sisters, Skylar and Taylor, will both look to medal in the javelin. Skylar hopes to defend her state gold from a year ago while Taylor makes her first trip to the state championships.

PIAA championships

Class 3A

Mifflin County results

Girls

100 hurdles: Ella Spriggle, 15.91.

Boys

1,600-meter run: Chayce Macknair, 4:34.84.

800-meter run: Seth Phillips, 1:59.51.

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