SHIPPENSBURG — The weather was just about perfect and so was the performance of the Chambersburg boys track & field team.
The Trojans had an electric first day at the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University on Friday and have put themselves in position to challenge for the team state title on Saturday.
Chambersburg coach Bob Walker said, “We had a very good day, and I think our sprinters did even better than we imagined they would.”
The Trojans’ J.J. Kelly earned his second straight triple jump title, hitting a distance of 47-7 in his fourth attempt. He won by nearly two feet — the runner-up, Matthew Cusatis of Hazleton, scored 45-10.
But Kelly was living on the edge in the preliminary round. He fouled on his first two attempts and needed a good jump just to qualify for the final.
The sophomore’s third jump was good — he hit 46-1, the best mark of the prelims — but first, there was a question from a judge.
“The referee thought I came out of the sand backward (toward the board), and you can’t do that,” Kelly said. “But I knew I came out on the side.”
The officials conferred and Kelly’s jump was ruled legal.
Kelly said, “My legs were rested and I was bringing a lot of speed to the board on the first two. On the third attempt I had to make sure I had a good jump. I had to keep my form and get into the sand with a good enough of a jump to get to the finals.”
On his first jump of the finals, he hit 47-7 and nobody got close to that mark, other than Kelly’s 47-5.25 on his last jump.
The Trojans’ 4 x 100 relay team of Kason Besecker, Kelly, Blake Mallast and Antonio Harrison II came in seeded with the third-best time. But after all five heats were run in the preliminaries, the Trojans had produced the fastest time, 41.65, which broke their own school record.
The team, which includes three sophomores and a freshman, will have a coveted middle lane in the final Saturday.
Besecker competed in the 100 prelims and the freshman lowered his best time to 10.67 and qualified for the final with the sixth-best time in the field of 35 sprinters. He’s getting closer to the school record of 10.64, held by Tyshawn Worrell.
Junior Jermere Jones also had a fine day in his event, the 110 hurdles. In the prelims, he posted a time of 14.45, which broke the school record he set last week at districts. Jones made the final with the day’s fifth-best time.
In addition to the three finals on the track that the Trojans will compete in Saturday, Kelly is the No. 1 seed in the high jump and No. 3 in the long jump.
Kelly said, “(When I’m competing), it’s definitely me against me, and I’m battling with myself. I just keep trying to push myself. But I know there is a lot of pressure on me because I want to help us get that first state team title. So the end, it’s not all about me.”
“As a coach, I don’t pay attention to the seeds and what other teams have, I’m just focusing on our kids and what they can do,” Walker said. “But I think everyone understands that the opportunity is there (to win the title).”
For the Chambersburg girls, senior Camryn Kiser added two special items to her list of career accomplishments. In the 1600 race, Kiser picked up her first individual track medal by placing seventh with a time of 4:53.96, and that was good enough to break the school record set in 2018 by ABby Yourkavitch.
Kiser said, “I’ve been looking to get the school record all year and after I ran that time (4:56.13) at Mid Penns, I knew I could get it. Today was the last chance, so I’m happy.
“I thought I had a chance to win, because I’ve beaten all of these girls except one in cross country. But I also knew every one of us had the same strengths, so it would come down to whoever could run the best time.”
Shippensburg’s Jillian Sydnor produced the second-best time in the girls 400 (55.32) and she’ll defend her crown from a year ago. Claire Paci of Greencastle-Antrim placed 23rd in the 1600. Waynesboro’s Jaylon Bean placed eighth in the triple jump with a leap of 44-7.5.
Team Standings: 1.
Triple jump — 1. J.J. Kelly (Chambersburg) 47-7; 8.Jaylon Bean (Waynesboro) 44-7.5; 16.Spencer Edey (Shippensburg) 42-9.75; Also, Trae Kater (Shippensburg) DNF, 3 fouls in prelims
Shot put — Sedrick Vessah (Chambersburg) DNF, 3 fouls in prelims
100 — 6.Kason Besecker (Chambersburg) 10.67 (qualified for final)
110 hurdles — 5.Jermere Jones (Chambersburg) 14.45 (qualified for final; school record)
4 x 100 relay — 1.Chambersburg (Besecker, Kelly, Blake Mallast, Antonio Harrison II) 41.65 (qualified for final; school record)
200 — 27.Seth Stouffer (Greencastle) 22.35
1600 – 1.Olivia Cieslak (Haverford) 4:49.01; 7.Camryn Kiser (Chambersburg) 4:53.96 (school record); 23.Claire Paci (Greencastle-Antrim) 5:04.45
100 — 15.Natalia Holmes (Chambersburg) 12.30
400 — 2.Jillian Sydnor (Shippensburg) 55.32
4 x 400 — 23.Chambersburg (Lashae Hang, Yosmary Cabrera Reyes, Katy Weller, Holmes) 4:14.72