By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
W’PORT — Seniors Rachel Hutchison and Ariana Gambrell are making a return trip to States next weekend, and they’re taking a few of their friends along with them.
Hutchison earned the Lady Wildcats’ lone gold medal of the day, while Gambrell won a silver medal, and junior Cassidy Stackpole, and the 1,600-meter relay team hit state standards Saturday at the District 4, Class AA Track & Field Championships.
“We’re excited about taking some new faces to States, and we’re excited about taking some experienced kids back to States,” said Athens coach Ben Gambrell. “We’re doing something good here.”
The Lady Wildcats did see their two-year reign atop District 4 come to an end, however, as Loyalsock cruised to the team title with 114 points, well ahead of runner-up Lewisburg, which tallied 68 points. Athens finished third with 60 points, while Warrior Run was fourth with 56, Mount Carmel was fifth with 55, and Sayre finished 19th with seven points.
Hutchison won the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 44.86 seconds, while Sayre junior Julia Boyle was 14th in 51.6 seconds, and Athens freshman Olivia Bartlow was 22nd in 55.92 seconds.
Last year, Hutchison qualified for States in the 300 hurdles, but clipped the first hurdle and fell in her heat.
“This race has definitely been on my mind,” said Hutchison. “I have been very nervous for it, but I’ve been preparing for it all season, and trying to get my mindset right after the way last season ended.
“I’m looking forward to next week,” she added.
“Rachel has been on a mission,” said Ben Gambrell. “Ever since that mistake at States, she’s been focused on the hurdles. Now, she can get back to States and take care of business.”
Gambrell finished second in the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 15.36 second to earn an automatic berth at States, and Boyle was seventh in 16.63 seconds.
“I thought the race went all right,” said Ariana Gambrell. “I got 15.3 again, I’m running that consistently now.
“It was a bit of a sloppy race for me,” she noted. “My form kind of went out the window when I was chasing.
“I think with that in mind heading into States, I can better myself, and better my time,” she added.
“(Ariana) absolutely crushed it today,” said Ben Gambrell. “She knew she had somebody who going to push her.
“I told her to run her own race, and not to worry about someone else ahead of her is doing,” he noted.
“She was actually running third at the halfway point, but (Ariana) said she saw her and turned it on,” added Gambrell.
Sayre coach Amy Wheeler said Boyle didn’t run her best race.
“She was so ready, and looked the fastest she ever has, but hit a hurdle early and got a little out of synch. She finished strong, though.”
Stackpole finished third in the javelin with a toss of 121-feet, 2-inches — besting the state standard by just 2 inches. Athens senior Paige McCarthy finished 12th at 97-feet, 2-inches.
“I felt good. It’s definitely a meet mentality,” said Stackpole. “In practice, I might be throwing a little bit less, but once I get to the meet something just clicks and I end up throwing as far as I did.”
Stackpole’s qualifying throw came on her first throw of the day.
“I’m not quite sure if it worked against me, or if my arm just got tired, but I didn’t throw as well the rest of the throws, but I wasn’t really worried about it,” she said.
Stackpole has come on strong in the second half of the season, including a personal-best throw of 123-feet at the NTL Championships.
“It’s just a lot of practice, some advice from my coach (Nicole Stroup), a fast arm, and a good block,” she said.
“(Cassidy) is a hard worker,” said Ben Gambrell. “She started to show her potential last year. This year, something clicked and she’s just been getting better and better.”
Hutchison teamed with junior Samantha Markle and freshmen Hannah Walker and Emma Roe to finish third in the 1,600-meter relay in a time of 4:08.3 — besting the state-qualifying time of 4:08.75.
Hutchison just missed on punching her ticket to States in two other events as well.
She finished third in the 200-meter dash in a time of 26.31 seconds — narrowly missing the state standard of 26.25 seconds, while Sayre freshman Rozlyn Haney was 11th in 27.11 seconds, and Walker was 14th in 27.69 seconds.
Hutchison and Gambrell teamed with Walker and Roe to finish third in the 400-meter relay in a time of 50.96 seconds — just 0.16 seconds off the state standard.
The Lady Wildcats made three other trips to the podium Saturday.
Bartlow finished fourth in the discus with a toss of 94-feet, 3-inches, and Gambrell finished fourth in the shot put with a heave of 34-fee, 3-inches.
Markle finished sixth in the triple jump with a mark of 33-feet, 1/4-inch.
Haney turned in Sayre’s best performance of the day. She finished fifth in the 400-meter dash in a time of 1:00.79 — missing the state standard of 59.85 seconds by less than one second. Roe finished 11th in 1:03.18, and Markle was 13th in 1:03.29
“It was a great run,” said Wheeler. “She was only 0.03 seconds off the school record, and it was only her fourth time running it.”
Sayre junior Kayla Hughey finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run in a time of 5:35.45 — best her previous PR by more than 13 seconds. Sayre sophomore Carrie Claypool was 15th in 5:55.47, and Athens senior Sophie Adams was 19th in 6:02.26.
“I think her heat hurt a little bit, she was way out in front,” said Wheeler. “I think the next heat might have benefitted her, but she PRed.
“Kayla and Carrie (Claypool) both an beautiful races,” added Wheeler. “Our goal was to get them both under 6 (minutes), and they both did it.”
Haney finished ninth in the 100-meter dash in 13.2 seconds
Claypool finished 12th in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 12:57.63, and Adams was 13th in 13:06.19.
“Carrie had an awesome 3,200. Her goal was to get under 13, and she did,” said Wheeler. “After her injury last year, she’s had a great season.”
Roe finished 14th in the 800-meter run in a time of 2:31.26, and Sayre senior Jennifer Shafer was 20th in 2:39.31.
IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Rachel Hutchison in the 300-meter hurdles. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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