DCC Tracksters Take Home 19 Medals at District Meet

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Tom Shade, Contributor

DCC Track & Field came of age at the District Nine Championships in Brookville.                                     A record 19 medals were taken home by the DuBois Central tracksters reflecting the 15 qualifiers that covered literally all event categories.

The coveted district medals were given to Cardinals in the sprints, distance, hurdles, relays and field events, including DCC’s first ever gold medal to a relay team, and two silvers.

All-in-all the Cardinals amassed 46 points, the third highest ever, and the Lady Cards came in third place in District Nine—an accomplishment not dreamed of less than a decade ago. For the last 6 years earlier teams boasted how they achieved 5th place in these championships. No more.

Few events require calmer nerves than intense high jump competitions and freshman record-holder Hope Jacob found herself in the thick of just that at the start of the meet. As rain poured down Jacob kept her cool and performed clean jumps right up until the winning height of 5 feet where all remaining competitors missed, save one. Her lack of errors while climbing the higher heights earned Jacob a tie for the silver and the day’s first state championship berth, and setting the critical momentum for her teammates.

Jacob’s day was far from over as her 4×1 relay team of Savannah Ross, Zoe Puhala and Madison Mortimer ran a Hall Of Fame 55.71 to cap off their finest race of the season. Jacob followed with a smashing of her 200 meter dash record (28.25) for a pleasantly unexpected medal performance. Her time was a mere 1/100 of a second off legendary sprinter Gabby Ridenour’s similar race over a decade ago, and from Hall of Fame status.

After Jacob’s good work only the final event, the 1600 meter relay, awaited.

Leading the scoring for DCC were Faith Jacob & Madelyn Schmader with 19 points each, and all points coming from their exploits on the track.

Faith began her impressive day with a PR (13.44) in the 100 meter dash that qualified her for the finals in the event. Jacob’s ability to gain ground in competition in track’s most explosive event earned her a medal in the final heat after it appeared her opponents had a faster start. Her excellent time moves her into DCC’s 100 meter dash Hall Of Fame, one of the more difficult honors to achieve.

Jacob went on to break her own school record (61.62) in one of track’s most spartan events, the 400 meter dash. Staying ahead of her own teammate, Zoe Puhala, by less than a second, she grinded out the silver medal run and a trip to Shippensburg next week. Now only the 4×4 relay was left at the end of the meet.

Season scoring leader Madelyn Schmader was also earning points and district hardware starting with her 4th place on the 4×8 team of Puhala, Sophie Rooney, and Chloe Benden, then followed by her 1600 run for a 6th place medal.

Going against conventional wisdom of conserving energy in big competitions Schmader continued to challenge herself in the grueling 800 meter run with an awe-inspiring school record blast (2:32) for a 4th place medal. Her final event awaited in the 1600 relay.

Chloe Benden began her outstanding day medaling in the 4×8 and immediately moving to the pole vault as the officials put the pressure on for her to start her jumping. Despite being tired from the relay and with little time to prep for the vault she still managed to earn second medal of the day with a 7-foot vault. She now had to wait for the final event, the 4×4, where her team was seeded first in District Nine.

In the meantime senior Micah Williamson, lead scorer for the boys, racked up 6 points with a solid 1600 run (4:45) for a bronze medal followed by an amazing 800 meter personal record charge (2:02) that also brought in the bronze for DCC. Williamson picked up a final 5th place in the last event of the evening, the boys 4×4, along with teammates Landon Schmader, Angelo Piccirillo, and Kyan Peck with a PR (3:42) nearly breaking the 48-year old record owned by Cathcart, Bianco, Armagost & Fauls of 1974. Williamson ends his high school track career with a Brockway High School record in the 1600 meter run and season points leader for the DCC boys.

Freshman Zoe Puhala had a news-making day after picking up the 4×8 medal. In the 400 meter dash she paced along side teammate faith Jacob to earn her place in the top two all-time runners in that event along with a bronze medal. Her 400 time(62.09) bested the old DCC record that was still standing prior to this season. Puhala went on to run a school record 3200 meter race (12:46) that also earned her yet another medal, and her days work was done.

Senior Landon Schmader earned 6 points for the boys with a solid 1600(4:51) for a 5th place  medal, then went on to an outstanding performance in the 3200 with a career best time (10:33) and another 5th place medal. His final event was the 4×4 for a personal record time.

Schmader leaves behind the most career points of all track athletes in DCC history, save two, and the Brockway High School 3200 record.

Freshman record-holder in the pole vault, Alyssa Yanek, had a very pleasant surprise as she hit 7 feet and earned a 5th place medal in the adventurous event. She now stands as the highest place winner in the event since track began in 1970.

The “elephant in the room” and likely the most anticipated event of the day was the girls 4×4. The Lady Cards, as last season, came in as the top ranked team in District Nine. However at last year’s championship the girls were shockingly outrun by 2 other teams, thus denied the state berth, despite setting a new DCC record.

Tonight the race began under the lights with perfect temperatures and no wind as lead runner Hope Jacob had a solid start trailing only a few competitors before handing off to Maddie Schmader, who gained a lead with what looked like a sprinter’s pace. Schmader, in the lead, gave the baton to the third leg, Chloe Benden, who refused to be passed despite being challenged by the gritty opponent from Redbank Valley, who was pressured to win to save her school’s team title.

Anchor runner Faith Jacob took the final baton from Benden with the lead still in hand, and despite a valiant effort by her Redbank competitor, Jacob’s speed and determination was too much. The Lady Cards took the gold, set a new school record(4:16) and won the right to compete at the PIAA Championships in Shippensburg.

It was the first time in DCC history any relay team, girls or boys, won a district title.

By midnight most teammates were back home.

The Cardinals will travel to Shippensburg on May 26th for practice on the university’s track facilities. State competition begins at 9am the next morning.