J.J. Kelly earns PIAA title in boys triple jump

SHIPPENSBURG — Before the thunder and lightning hit Shippensburg University on Friday, Chambersburg freshman J.J. Kelly created his own kind of fireworks.

J.J. Kelly

Kelly, on his final attempt, busted a triple jump of 48 feet, 1 inch to win the PIAA Class 3A championship in that event.

At the District 3 Championships last weekend, Kelly earned a gold medal by hitting 47-0, which was almost a foot further than his previous best and broke a long-standing school record.

On Friday morning, Kelly zoomed to a leap of 47-6.5 on his very first attempt to give the field a mark to stare at.

That distance stood up through the three-jump prelims, so he was in first place entering the finals. On his first attempt of the finals, Matthew Cusatis of Hazleton eclipsed Kelly with a mark of 47-10.25 to move into first place.

Kelly hit 47-4.75 on his first finals jump, then faulted on his second. But on his last attempt, he cleared 48-1, which was almost two feet better than his PR of just two weeks ago.

“All year, he’s answered the call when needed,” Trojan coach Bob Walker said. “His first jump got him into first place for the finals, then he was passed. But I had a good feeling he would answer, and he did.”

Kelly became the first Trojan to win a PIAA track & field title since Marshay Ryan won the long and triple jumps in 2013, and the first Chambersburg boy to win PIAA gold since Chris Clever captured the javelin in 1997.

Kelly’s distances for the day were: 47-6.5, 46-5.25, 46-10.5, 47-4.75, fault and 48-1. Only one other jumper, bronze medalist Dayshawn Jacobs of West Chester Rustin, managed to hit 47 feet (47-2).

In the same event, Shippensburg’s Traevon Kater placed seventh (45-7.25) and teammate Spencer Edey was 10th (44-3.5).

Greencastle-Antrim sophomore Claire Paci earned a silver medal Friday morning in the girls 3A 1600, finishing runner-up to Moon’s Mia Cochran. Paci ran 4:54.77, while Cochran best the field with a time of 4:46.53.

In the boys 1600, G-A senior Weber Long did not have his best day, running 4:18.37, five seconds slower than his winning effort in the heat last week in districts, and had to settle for 15th place.

Among the many heats that took place Friday before the storm hit, Chambersburg sophomore Jermere Jones advanced to tomorrow’s final in the 110 hurdles, putting up a fifth-best time of 15.04.

Trojan sprinter Natalia Holmes posted a 12.50 in the girls 100 prelims, but the sophomore did not advance. Chambersburg’s Sedrick Vessah, a junior, threw the shot put 47-2.25 to place 15th.

For the Shippensburg girls, Jillian Sydnor qualified in the 200 and 400 for states and she was able to get through the prelims in each event to run in Saturday’s final. The junior ran 56.30 to qualify No. 2 in the 400 and raced to the line in 25.07 to become the No. 6-best 200 time.

Also, Waynesboro’s True Benshoff was entered in the girls 300 hurdles and her time of 47.35 was good for 20th place.