Upper Perk runners Amanda Long and Avery Scripture stood tall against the very large measuring stick of the Indoor State Championships held at Penn State last weekend. Both acquitted themselves well against the top talent of the Commonwealth with using the occasion to set a new school record in the 800-meter run.
Scripture, a junior, broke his own record on Penn State’s banked track, finishing 14th in the race. His time of 1:58.61 was .42 seconds faster than his previous best. Earlier this season, Scripture had shattered Upper Perk’s 800-meter record, 2:04.
Certainly the level of competition at Penn State had a hand in the new mark.
“It was probably one of the fastest first laps I’ve ever run,” Scripture recounted. “Right off the bat, I knew it was fast. Then we kind of settled in the pace for the next two laps, and the last lap was also really fast, one of my fastest ever. That was a killer lap for me.”
Scripture also ran in the mile, which was held before the 800. However, his focus was on the latter and Scripture used the mile as a “warm-up,” finishing 24 seconds over his personal best.
Long was less than enthralled with her performance in the girls 800 meter. “It wasn’t a very good race. I got boxed in, and it was really hard to get out, and it was too late by the last lap. My energy had already been sapped.”
Still, the senior who transferred to Upper Perk from North Pocono as a sophomore appreciated the moment.
“It was a good experience. I’m glad I made it. The atmosphere was pretty awesome. As you were coming around the track, there were people that were cheering and clapping. It kind of drove you.”
Upper Perk assistant coach Ken Eicheldinger agreed with that assessment and credited head coach Dean Wright with having his runners well prepared.
“The atmosphere was a pretty intense environment, but it’s also an environment that they’ve seen and experienced before when they go up to the armory in New York. The atmosphere is very similar,” said Eicheldinger.
Long and Scripture also pointed to the New York experience, an annual pilgrimage to a crowded meet in Manhattan.
“We’ve run real big meets up in New York. We’ve had pretty big fields before with a lot of talent in them,” noted Scripture.
And it got them used to a banked track.
“In New York, a lot of it was getting used to the banked track, which helped. The bank kind of propels you around like a slingshot, if you take advantage of it,” Long said.
Eicheldinger sees last weekend’s experience as nothing but a plus for both runners, especially Scripture.
“(Avery) made a big jump from spring track to winter track. He was a decent track runner to now becoming one of the elite middle distance runners in the state. He was getting into running against elite competition, and he rose to the level that was needed to run against elite competition.”