Erich Keyser breaks away from the pack in the 100 hurdles to take first place in the preliminaries at the PAC-10 Championships on Friday.
Several Upper Perk track and field participants will be moving onto Districts this weekend after some outstanding performances at the Pioneer Athletic Conference championships gave coach Dean Wright hope that his boys' team could possibly win a District title.
With superstar Ronnie Gillespie, the defending state champion in the 200, leading the way, the boys' team has a chance to leave a lasting impression at the District I championships held on Coatesville’s track.
“We’re considered a championship team since we have so many people that could come in first,” coach Wright said, “So we’re going to try and take a run at the district title for boys.”
At the PAC-10’s, Gillespie won his signature event, the 200, nipping his archrival from Spring-Ford, Andrew Scanlan. Gillespie finished in 21.96; Scanlan was a half-second behind.
In the 100, Gillespie and Scanlan finished in a dead heat for first in 11.0.2.
The results were just as good for the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams which both took first, and both relay teams will compete in Districts.
The 4x100 team included Gillespie, Robbie Hinson, Ben Hammill and junior Kyle Kater, a relative newcomer to the relay. They beat out Pottstown in 42.94.
Gillespie and Hammill, joined by Avery Scripture and Erich Keyser in the 4x400, coasted in almost three seconds ahead of Phoenixville.
“We were able to do some things that we hadn’t done before, being PAC-10 champions in two relays, and we won all the sprinting events except for the 400,” Wright noted.
During the regular season, the Indians were continually thwarted score-wise by the large number of runners on other teams. Districts are all about Upper Perk’s strengths in sprinting events and the always determined Avery Scripture in the 800.
“We’re looking for (Gillespie) to be a double gold winner, and with the emergence of Avery Scripture, we should be able to be top three in the 800.”
Scripture took the 800 in 1:57.71, finishing ahead of Perk Valley’s Dave Garton by almost two seconds last Saturday.
Keyser will also be competing in the 110 high hurdles at Coatesville. He finished second last weekend.
Javelin thrower John Olson, now recovered from some nagging injuries, will be joining his teammates after finishing third at the PAC-10 championships.
Olson threw 167 feet, finishing far short of Spring-Ford’s Scanlan (186-8), and Pope John Paul’s Jacob Gribb (186-4), but the Upper Perk senior is confident he can make a return to States, where he threw 172 last year.
Olson is “hoping to at least hit 180 again and qualify for states.” He figures he has to throw at least 175 at Districts to move on.
“John’s going to be working hard, doing everything he can to do it,” said throwing coach Brian Peoples. “We’re hoping that his experience will guide him to States and potentially the top ten, top 15 in the state.”
On the girls' side, Amanda Long captured the 800 by almost two seconds over Phoenixville’s Rachel Carr, finishing in 2:18.96.
“Rachel and I went out hard and set the pace. Going into the second lap, we were still together, and then I tried to separate, and finish strong,” Long recounted.
Long, whose best personal time is 2:18.09, has to run at least 2:18 again and finish in the top eight to advance to States.
“(District 1) is very competitive. A lot of the schools have very good runners, and I know making it to States in the 800 is very hard in District 1.”
The team of Emily Rodenberger, Danni Moser, Jamie Cuita and Long placed fourth in the 4x 400 relay and also qualified for the district championship meet.
Rodenberger will also be racing in the 300 intermediate hurdles.