New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Hopes and dreams fueled area athletes at the WPIAL Track and Field Championships yesterday.
Aspirations of capturing a WPIAL title and punching a ticket to the state meet filled the minds of those who packed Baldwin High School to prove their mettle.
A lone Lawrence County athlete was able to reach the mountaintop — capturing a WPIAL championship.
That distinction went to Mohawk High’s Lucas Grim, who took the crown in the 800.
“Going into qualifiers, I was thinking I could get a medal here. Last year, I got third and I was hoping I could do better,” Grim said. “I was coming into this meet (seeded) first, so I thought I could get first.”
This marks the first WPIAL championship for Grim, who also was the starting point guard for the Warriors’ basketball team this season.
His winning time of 1:58.90 outdid runner-up Roy Hadfield (Quaker Valley), who clocked in at a time of 2:00.01.
“It feels great. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I like that team aspect of it, but it is special (to win as an individual).”
When it was all said and done, 17 boys, eight girls and three relay teams realized their goal by earning at spot at the PIAA Championship on Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University. The five top finishers in each event in Class AA and the four best in Class AAA, along with those finishing in the top eight and meeting certain qualifying standards, qualified for state.
Grim won’t be alone in Shippensburg. He will be joined by teammates Vince Menichino, Shane McFarland and Austin Main as members of Mohawk’s 400 relay team. The Warriors claimed fifth in the event with a time of 44.60. First-place Washington paced the pack at 43.29. Ellwood City Lincoln notched third, running at a time of 44.21.
“We worked really hard for this,” McFarland said. “From our earlier times, we were ranked third coming into this event. We just came in every day and gave it our all in practice and worked hard.”
McFarland cites the friendship of the team being key to its success all season stating, “We have a great relationship. We are all good friends and bonded together.”
The Wolverines squad of Nicholas Ioanilli, J.T. Baldelli, Keaton Docchio and Damion Barrett was excited to reach the next level.
“It feels awesome, amazing,” Barrett said. “I can’t wait for state. I thought we’d come in fifth, not third, but we did well.”
Barrett was one of two freshmen on the relay team, earning his first WPIAL medal in the process.
“I knew we could place for sure and move on to state,” Ioanilli, the other freshman said. “We just had to do what we had to do.”
Docchio will go to the state meet with two events on his schedule. Along with the 400 relay, he almost grabbed the 110 hurdles crown, losing a close race to South Side’s Ricky Fayad. Docchio ran a 15.27 while Fayad clocked in at 15.08.
“I was pretty disappointed, but you can’t be mad with a second place at the WPIAL,” Docchio said. “There’s next year, though. I’m only junior. We’ll see what happens.”
It’s the first time in three years Docchio will be part of multiple events in the state meet, having gone in the relay in ninth grade and the hurdles in 10th.
Kevin Court will be joining fellow Ellwood City athletes in the state meet after finishing fourth in the 300 hurdles at 41.19. Shenango’s Ron Davis wasn’t far behind at 41.20 in fifth, joining Court in Shippensburg. Riverview’s Tyler Murphy led the field at 38.89.
Davis will be accompanied by Wildcats’ teammates Jake Cochran, Nick Dombeck and Andy Feil, who placed fifth as a 1600 relay team at a mark of 3:32.78.
Eli Williams represents the lone Union athlete for both the boys and girls participating in Shippensburg next week. Williams registered a fifth-place result in the 400 at a time of 51.67. He trailed winner Alex Vaughn of Trinity Christian, who came in at a mark of 49.91.
Williams set a new personal record with his time, knocking two seconds off his previous high effort.
“It feels good. I was really excited,” he said. “It felt good to just run.”
Relatively new to track, Williams plays on the Scotties’ defensive line on the gridiron. He entered his second season running track and was thrilled with making it into the state meet.
“It’s way different from what you’re used to on the football field,” he claimed. “It’s all about staying focused and just running.”
Ethan Wilson and Joey Johnson will carry the green and white banner of Laurel with them to the state championships. Wilson claimed third in the 800 at a time of 2:00.19. Johnson met success in the high jump, earning fifth at a height of 6-0.
Neshannock’s Caleb Holes grabbed fifth place and a state bid with a 12-6 mark in the pole vault. Freeport’s Alec Stivers owned the top score of 13-3.
New Castle’s Mike Mazzanti placed fifth in the 800 with a state-qualifying standard of 1:56.62. His time was less than a second off the top mark of Penn Hills runner Dylin Wilhoite (1:55.88).
OTHERS WHO PLACED
In AA, the following local athletes earned a medal for placing in the top eight in an event — Shenango’s Jake Cochran (400, eighth), Matt Pherson (shot put, eighth), Vince Albertini (javelin, eighth); Laurel’s Clint Glenn (eighth, 800), Alex Brooks (high jump, sixth), Josh Finley (high jump, eighth), James Steele (triple jump, eighth); Mohawk’s Zach Shasteen (pole vault, eighth).
In Class AAA, two local athletes earned a medal for placing in the top eight — New Castle’s Levar Ware (javelin, seventh) and Antonio Rudolph (400, seventh).