If the only men’s events you watched on Day 2 of the District 11 Athletics Championship were the relays, you probably left Whitehall Wednesday night quite satisfied.
Because the four relays offered as much excitement and achievement as possible and produced four formidable champions.
Wilson set a record. Northampton made history. Palisades set a standard. And Northern Lehigh led by example.
Here’s a look at each relay’s gold medal day that earned them all a trip to Shippensburg for the state championship on May 27-28.
The warriors in the lead
Wilson’s 400-meter relay of seniors Zack Gillen, Zakai Hendricks, Damian Simpson and Damon Simpson covered themselves in glory.
It would have been hard to have a better day.
The Warriors set a district record in 41.78 seconds, which means the old record — the 41.96 they ran in practice on Tuesday — lasted about 24 hours. That performance beat the mark of 42.20 set 12 years ago by Parkland in 2010.
Wilson’s 41.78 is also the No. 1 time in Pennsylvania, ahead of Coatesville’s 42.02 at the Penn Relays.
The 400 relay can be a tricky hair-triggered relay with high-speed transfers that can go wrong with the slightest miscalculation or the smallest of slips. Wilson, as they say on the track, ran as clean as your grandma’s freshly mopped floor. and as gracefully as the New York City Ballet – it was a thing of beauty. A video of the race could sell like a work of art.
“The first three legs gave me a good lead,” said Damon Simpson, who anchored Wilson at home long before the second Stroudsburg at 43.16. “I think our coach gave us the perfect preparation, and today was perfect race weather – not like all the wind yesterday.”
In effect. You often hear about wind-assisted performances, but Tuesday’s practice might have been wind-impeded performances with gusts of wind howling in the backstretch and second corner, and the Warriors still ran 41, 96. Not bad, you know.
But on Wednesday, the wind was at Wilson’s back.
“We’re glad we gave ourselves a chance to win States,” said Simpson, who also won the 100 and 200 meters. “Last year we went to states after winning districts and we came in sixth. That’s a little extra motivation for this year.
What an extra-motivated Warrior relay could do is almost frightening to think.
RESULTS: 3A boys
The K-Kids do it for the coach
Northampton’s 1,600 relay has gone where no relay under veteran head coach Tim Caffrey has gone before.
“Coach has never gotten a stint in the states before,” senior Victor Hunt said. “Since the beginning of the year, we have wanted to do it for the coach.”
They certainly did.
The Konkrete Kids relay of Hunt, Shaun Apsley, Logan Henry and Ben Henry, all seniors, turned what looked like a very close race between several top teams into their own prize pearl, returning home in 3 minutes, 24.95 seconds to win 3A gold.
The time was a Northampton personal best of nearly four seconds, and is the season’s No. 1 time of the season in the lehighvalleylive area.
The K-Kids saw several potential challengers fall by the wayside before Ben Henry ensured Southern Lehigh wouldn’t spoil the party with a powerful anchor leg that left the Spartans second in a nice 3 time; 26.61.
“Southern Lehigh worried us a bit,” Ben Henry.
But only a little.
“We had the will to win. said Logan Henry.
It showed. Caffrey’s first relay trip to Ship will be with a memorable team of exceptionally talented athletes – and talent usually shows up in the States.
Hackers show how it’s done
Palisades put on a perfect demonstration of how to win a 1600 stint in the 2A final as the Pirates roared to the States – remember, only the winner automatically qualifies in the boys 2A – in 3:30.73, ahead of the runner-up Palmerton 3: 31.95.
Run three good legs and drop anchor to your towering track talent, in this case junior Thomas Smigo.
Smigo’s teammates junior Bryce Guthier, senior Mitch Campbell and junior Hugh Salva put Smigo in position to win the race – and Smigo, who is not used to finishing anything but first – he won three district titles during this competition and now has eight in total – does just that.
It looked like Bryson Walters of the Blue Bombers might have a shot at downing Smigo with around 250 yards to go – until Smigo hit his championship gear and the race went like dinner.
“We never doubt Thomas Smigo,” Guthier said.
Salva, who gave the baton to Smigo, never doubted.
“I was sitting in the infield after running and hearing the fans and watching to see where Thomas was, and he was five feet over (Walters) with 100 to go and I knew we had him.” he said.
Smigo, who won the 2A 1,600-meter race earlier in the day, is best known for the distance run but certainly looked like a sprinter on Thursday.
“I think I have the speed to run the 400,” he said.
bulldogs grill bark
The sprinters looked like Northern Lehigh’s senior 400 relay quartet of Matt Frame and Trevor Anorim, junior Alexander Jimenez Wittong and senior Brett Miscera, who won 2A gold in 44.28 seconds, topping 44.66 from Palmerton and getting their ticket to Shippensburg.
Bulldogs are built like the murderous football players that they are – shoulders wide enough to land planes, rippling muscles all over, and legs that look like redwood trunks. No skinny, leggy sprinters here!
What they may lack in sheer speed they make up for in power, especially in the turns.
They also set a wonderful example as successful multi-sport athletes. Frame and Anorim also struggle and Frame was a state qualifier. Given that they propelled Northern Lehigh to a 2021 D-11 2A Football Championship, the group is showing that you can compete successfully in more than one sport – a lesson smaller schools need to apply as much as they can. .
RESULTS: 2A boys
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Brad Wilson can be reached at [email protected].