Amanda Long set a new school record in the 800 at the District 1 championships and will head to states to compete.
Avery Scripture took sixth in the 800 and earned a spot at the state championships this weekend.
After qualifying three runners for four events in this weekend’s PIAA State Championships, the Upper Perkiomen track program is knocking on the door of unprecedented opportunity. Ronnie Gillespie, Avery Scripture and Amanda Long emerged from last week’s District 1 Championships with high expectations for the season’s ultimate event at Shippensburg University.
Gillespie is the defending state champ in the 200 meter sprint, and, at Coatesville last weekend, he was faster than ever, breaking the meet record in the 100 and the 200.
In the 100 finals, the Upper Perk senior clocked a 10.61, despite what he considered a slow start. “I felt like I came out third out of my blocks, right away, I felt like I was behind,” he recounted. “It was neck and neck the whole entire time.” At the tape, Gillespie finished .04 seconds ahead of C.B. South’s Ryan Hynes.
Ronnie ran another record breaking time in the 200, 21.24, but this time was caught at the finish by Eric Futch of Penn Wood. “We both basically were tied throughout the whole entire race. He just out-edged me,” Gillespie said.
In a stunning turn of events, however, Futch was disqualified from participating at States after an altercation with track officials at Coatesville, leaving Gillespie as the number one seed at Ship and in prime position for gold in the 100 and 200.
Scripture ran a personal record 1:55.57 in the prelims for the 800, and did not feel the need to max out at the finals finish once he realized he had a state berth locked up.
“I definitely have more to give. In prelims and finals, I knew I was in, so I kind of let off a little bit. Down the last 100 meter stretch, I was counting the guys in front of me,” said Scripture, who finished sixth in the race.
“Avery has a legitimate shot at actually winning,” said Upper Perk track coach Dean Wright. “The top time is 1:52. He’s run 1:55.”
Scripture is very confident also. “Some of the best runners got knocked out in the 800, surprisingly. It could be anybody’s race.”
For her part, Amanda Long set her personal record (PR) in the preliminaries of the 800, running a 2:16.71 and setting an Upper Perk school record. Her final time was slightly slower but good enough for sixth and a state berth.
It was an unexpected bonus for the senior’s hard work. “My time on Friday in the prelims actually surprised me. I was very surprised that I made States,” she said. “I never thought I would make it this far. This year I wanted it really badly. I tried to go for it. I couldn’t be happier.”
A medal for a top eight finish is in reach for Long according to Wright.
The veteran coach is justifiably proud of his states-bound athletes and is looking forward to the weekend.
“With Avery moving along, 100 percent improvement from his sophomore year, to be one of the top kids in the 800 in the state of Pennsylvania, and with Ronnie looking like he’s going to be able to defend his 200-meter title and maybe add a 100-meter title, and Amanda Long, just unbelievable how she’s improved over her career here at Upper Perk.”
His runners are embracing the experience also.
Gillespie noted he was “definitely excited, excited for the two others that are going, Avery Scripture and Amanda Long. I’m definitely excited to see what they can do.”
Scripture said, “It’s going to be great sharing that experience with [Ronnie and] Amanda.”
As for Long, “It’s definitely going to be a new experience for me, because I’ve never made States outdoor. I’m going to be nervous, but I’ll enjoy it.”