Valley Sports Report
W’PORT — Athens junior Damian Hudson will pull double-duty at States next weekend.

Hudson won a gold medal in the 200-meter dash here Saturday afternoon at the District 4 Track & Field Championships, and also hit the state standard in the 100-meter dash.

Hudson will join sophomore Benny Gambrell in Shippensburg Friday and Saturday. Both Wildcats will be making their first appearance at the PIAA Track & Field Championships.

“We’re excited about taking some newcomers to States this year,” said Athens coach Ben Gambrell. “Overall, we’re doing something good here.”

Central Columbia claimed the District 4 team title with 122 points, while runner-up Lewisburg amassed 105.5 points, and third-place Southern Columbia tallied 93.5 points. Athens tied for eighth with 37 points, and Sayre did not record a team point (no top-eight finishes).

Hudson won the 200-meter dash in a time of 22.82 seconds, edging out Central Columbia’s Jared Verse by 0.01 seconds. Gambrell finished fifth in 23.18 seconds.

“It feels good,” said Hudson. “Last year I got third, but I knew I was going to bounce back. I knew if I got third last year I could get first this year.

“I thought (Verse’s) stride would get me, but I just pushed myself a little bit harder,” noted Hudson. “I felt myself going in front of him the whole race.

“I wanted to leave here with a gold,” added Hudson.

Hudson finished third in the 100-meter dash in a time of 11.21 seconds — besting the state qualifying standard of 11.3.

“I got out of the blocks pretty good,” said Hudson. “It was a good race.”

Southern Columbia’s Julian Fleming, a blue-chip Division I football prospect as the top-rated wide receiver in the nation, won District gold in the 100 in 10.95 seconds, and Montoursville’s Jacob Reeder won silver in 11.18.

“Those guys pushed me, there’s no doubt about it,” said Hudson. “I wanted to show I belonged with them, and that I belong at States.”

“It was a crazy race,” said Ben Gambrell. “I kept telling him to run his race, and not worry about anyone else — and he did.

“He was focused,” added Gambrell. “He had great form coming out of the blocks and ran a state-qualifying time. I’m proud of him.”

The Wildcats made three more appearances on the podium Saturday.

Benny Gambrell finished fourth in the triple jump with a hop, skip, and jump of 42-feet, 7-inches.

Hudson and Gambrell teamed with senior Zach Trasco and freshman Shayne Reid to finish fifth in the 400-meter relay in a time of 44.53 seconds.

There were several other Valley athletes competing Saturday who did not make the podium.

Trasco finished 10th in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5-feet, 9-inches.

Sayre sophomore Zach Belles tied for 12th in the shot put with a heave of 41-feet, 5-inches

Athens junior T.J. Toscano finished 13th in the 800-meter run in a time of 2:05.21. He finished 16th in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 10:37.3

Hudson, Trasco, and Reid teamed with senior T.J. Toscano to finish 16th in the 1,600-meter relay in a time of 3:47.3.

Athens senior Noah Wright finished 13th in the discus with a toss of 113-feet, 11-inches, while Belles was 14th at 112-feet, 9-inches, Athens sophomore Asher Ellis was 16th at 112-feet, 5-inches, and Sayre senior Joey Stermer was 19th at 109-feet, 8-inches.

Sayre sophomore Bobby Benjamin finished 14th in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 10-feet, and Athens junior Ben Biles finished 20th in the 300-meter hurdles in 46.0 seconds.


IN PHOTO 1: Athens junior Damian Hudson (center) and sophomore Benny Gambrell (right) in the 200-meter dash finals. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.