Zephs head to Ship
It will be a packed vehicle when the Whitehall track team heads to the state championships this weekend.
Heading on that trip to the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University will be Lucas Souders, Chad Hussett, Aspen Schache, Helen Davis, Aliyah Barkley and Kate Bonshak.
That group earned two silvers and a bronze at last week’s District XI 3A Track and Field Championships at the Zephyr Sports Complex.
The PIAA Championships are set to begin this weekend at Seth Grove Stadium on the campus of Shippensburg University.
It will also mark the inaugural trip to Shippensburg for first-year head coach Tyler Miller.
“Definitely a joy my first year as head coach to have some athletes make it to the big show,” said Miller. “Glad I have a great set of assistant coaches on staff.”
Hussett, a senior, finished second in the 100 meters. He ran a 11.08, his best time for the 100 in his career. His ability to run his best race on the big stage paved his way to the PIAA Championships.
Igniting that sliver medal was a good start. He said that getting out of the blocks quickly helped him vie for the win as he got edged out by Liberty’s Devon West. He also credited a strong field for helping him establish that personal record.
Hussett’s trip to the podium at the district meet came on the heels of an EPC performance that didn’t produce the results that he had hoped for heading into the league championships.
“I guess I didn’t prepare well enough,” said Hussett. “Also, my start was bad last week, and I guess God just didn’t have what was in store for me today [at the district championships] last week.
It will be the first time Hussett will be making the trip to Shippensburg. His goal will be to replicate his success at the district meet.
“Hopefully, I get to make it to the podium at Shippensburg as well,” said Hussett.
The boys 4x100 relay team also won a medal, taking fourth place in the event which was won by Wilson Area High School. The foursome of Jaiden Lee, Kresstoph Whittick, Allen Negrete and Hussett finished with a 43.42 mark.
The girls 4x100 relay team followed their EPC gold with a silver at the district tourney. Once again the team featured Schache, Davis, Barkley and Bonshak, with the flying foursome finishing in 49.60 to earn a trip to states.
Davis had said that she was going to make it to the PIAA Championships, and the senior was able to fulfill that promise by helping her team get the silver. She said that she was proud of the team, no matter what medal they earned.
With both local meets behind them, they’ll now look to see how they fare with the rest of the 3A schools from across the state.
“Right now we are focused on going to states and beating this [school] record,” said Davis who will be making her third trip to Shippensburg. “That is our last goal right now.”
It was a jumbled field heading into that final leg, and Bonshak, the anchor, knew it was going to take everything she had to cross the line ahead of the pack.
Bonshak said that she knew that East Stroudsburg South had a half-step lead heading into the final leg. She was also aware that she had to stick to what had made her successful in those situations.
“I just made sure I focused on my stride, and went through all the way through the finish line,” said Bonshak who joins Davis as a three-time qualifier for the state meet.
Barkley, who will be making her first trip to the PIAA Championships, ran the third leg of the race, receiving that baton from Davis. She had posted a 12.94 in the 100 meters earlier that afternoon, good for sixth place.
“We had a really good handoff, and when I got the baton, I was just in the zone, and I really ran hard to give the baton to Kate,” said Barkley.
Schache, who runs the first leg, will also be making her first appearance at states.
Bonshak echoed Davis by saying that their goal is to do the best they can at states and set a new school record in the process.
Miller said that the girls 4x100 team has been consistent the second half of the year, and that consistency was rewarded with a well-earned trip to states.
“I had no doubt in my mind they would make it back out there this year,” said Miller.
It will also be Souders first trip to Shippensburg. He got to states by finishing third with a 195-02 mark. It was a new personal best for the junior, beating his previous mark of 185-08 which was set at the Haverford Invitational earlier this spring.
That toss landed him on the third spot on the podium, and it also cemented a personal goal.
“It feels really good; I’m just really excited,” said Souders.
He had been throwing state-qualify distances the entire season, and that remained his thought process heading into the district meet.
“My mentality coming into it was just hit the state mark,” said Souders. “That was my beginning goal, and after that, I just got after it.”
He achieved his preseason goal by punching his ticket to the set meet and looks forward to the challenge ahead.
Miller said that Souders is seeded fifth at the PIAA meet.
“Lucas has been improving himself all season long so it’s a great feeling knowing how happy he is that he qualified for Saturday,” said Miller.
They had strong performances by other athletes as well.
Izak Bright was fifth in the discus with a 131-05 toss.
Lindsay Solderitch finished seventh in the 400, crossing in 102.22, while Autumn Dragovits was sixth in the javelin with a 109-04 mark.
The girls 4x800 team of Solderitch, Juanita Flores, Alyssa Marsteller and Devon Roberts finished ninth, hitting the finish line in 10:22.32. That was the same finish for the 4x400 team.