Looking for a Bright side
If you’ve driven by Hokendauqua Park recently, chances are you’ve seen a spherical object soaring through the air.
Relax, it’s not a UFO. Rather, it’s a discus belonging to Izak Bright whose working to maintain his throwing schedule during the layoff.
In this period of isolation and social distancing, Bright is among a handful of Whitehall track and field athletes who have made Hokey Park their workout destination. Bright said that Lucas Souders and his brother, Nicholas, are also at the park working out as they all await a decision about the future.
Bright, a senior, was spending last Sunday afternoon at home. As a three-sport athlete, track was going to be his final opportunity to suit up for the maroon and gold, and he was anxious to see where that journey would take him.
He was just medically cleared to begin competition prior to the track season and he was eager to begin throwing the discus. He suffered a dislocated knee during wrestling. Bright said that it occurred in their second match against Northampton causing him to miss the rest of the wrestling season.
That was a bitter pill to swallow since Bright had circled the regional tournament as his goal, and believed he had a good shot of making it out of districts at 220 lbs. Bright had a good run last season, winning two matches in the in the district tournament before losing to Stroudsburg’s Julian Sparks in the consolation round. Bright, who’s won close to 50 matches during his career, believed he could climb through the 220 bracket and earn a spot at the regional tourney.
Xavier Arner reached the AAA Northeast Region Tournament this year, and Bright was looking forward to accompanying his teammate in that arena.
“I think it would have been exciting,” said Bright. “Whitehall hasn’t had a regional placer in a long time, and to have two people go in my senior year, would have been exciting.”
While that was a firm disappointment in his senior year, the opportunity to compete in track, a sport that he’s decided to continue after graduation, would have certainly mitigated that situation. He believed the discus would carry him to Shippensburg and the PIAA Track and Field Championships.
But with everything in limbo, Bright’s just waiting to hear what the future holds.
“There’s been no definite word,” said Bright. “I’m kind of worried. I was looking at states this year. I expected to do really well. It would be a disaster if the season was canceled.”
Bright’s goal of reaching the championships is rooted in his steady improvement over his career. He finished fifth at districts last season in the discus, tossing it 131-05. He said he his best throw was 135 feet last year, and expects to increase that mark his final season.
“This year I’ve been making that and getting past it,” said Bright.
Without the benefit of working in a gym, he’s been using the park as his base. He said he’ll stand in the parking lot and let the discus fly. It’s a spacious park that gives him the ability to uncork his throws and work on his craft. He also competes in the shot put, but the discus is the event he believes will open the door to Shippensburg.
Bright will be heading to Indiana University of Pennsylvania this fall. He’ll be attending the IUP Honors College, a division of the school formally known as Cooks Honors College. Bright will be studying chemical education with the intention of teaching the subject in the future.
“I’ve taken honors classes [in chemistry] and AP classes, and I just like it,” said Bright.
Bright said that he’s visited the campus, and has attended three honors camps in the past. When he arrives, he’ll also continue his athletic career. He said he’ll be part of the Crimson Hawk’s track and field team throwing the discus.
Whether he gets the opportunity to end his athletic career at Shippensburg is still an unknown. However, he’ll be prepared to sling that orb if Pennsylvania schools resume classes. Those flying objects in Hokey Park is testament to that.