Upper Perk senior Avery Scripture competed at the PTFCA Indoor States Championship for winter track, running in the 800-meter event last Saturday coming away with a 20th place finish.
Upper Perk senior Avery Scripture took 20th place in the 800 meter race at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) Indoor States last Saturday at Penn State. Scripture battled through the knee injuries that have plagued him since the summer to post a time of 2:00.21.
“I haven’t really been able to train that hard. I felt pretty accomplished at least making it to states,” Scripture said.
The leaders set a blistering pace, 53 seconds for the first 400 meters, before slowing down a bit for the second half of the race.
“It was a good race. We went out really fast, and it was a pretty rough race. I actually got spiked pretty bad twice in the leg,” said Scripture who may have run the last race of his career.
He does not plan on running spring track nor running in college.
Scripture’s final race, if that’s what it was, might not have been possible without the behind-the-scenes work of several volunteers who provided the adult support to run the winter track program.
Since the school district dropped winter track as an official sport in a cost-cutting move, funding, transportation, practice times, and coaching had to be organized without the district’s help.
The high school did permit the club a school affiliation without which they would not have been able to participate in The Track and Field Coaches Association of Greater Philadelphia for the boys and the Delaware Valley Girls’ Track Coaches Association for the girls.
Parents Lisa Keiper, Jen Duka and Deb Long took on the lion’s share of the routine tasks that go along with running a team. Per league requirements, they also had to work at each meet.
“We entered runners into the meets using the on-line systems required to do that,” related Lisa Keiper, whose son and daughter ran on the team.
“We drove the runners to the meets with the help of other team parents. We sent out informational e-mails and used a Facebook group to keep runners and families informed about what was going on.”
The school required that someone supervise the students each day or the club would not have been able to function. A few students approached Matt Austin, a science teacher at the high school.
“Jack [Young] and Rachel Landis came to me, first off, asking, begging that they needed somebody to do this,” said Austin, “and then with Lydia [Keiper] in class, she came and she asked over and again, and her mother got in touch with me.”
Austin agreed to help. “I said I could try it and see how it went. I’m here after school anyway.”
Former Upper Perk track standout Kristen Reed, who could not coach herself because of work commitments, supplied the practice plans and advised some of the runners via e-mail.
While Scripture worked out on his own, utilizing cross country workouts he and his father had researched for cross-country, Austin communicated Reed’s blueprints each day to the other runners.
“Ok, this what the sprinters will do today, this is what the long distance will do. So, I go down with them and say, ‘This is what you guys are doing, go for your warm-up, go and stretch.’ I would just make sure they were doing what they were [supposed to be] doing.”
“I know Mr. Austin gave a lot of his time,” said senior Lydia Keiper. “We’re really grateful for that. I think it went really well. It was nice to kind of have a laid-back atmosphere.”
The parents charged the runners to pay for league entry fees. Each paid a $25 training fee and $25 when he or she competed. The volunteers also took some of the runners to New York for The Hispanic Games, an event that attracted 300 schools and 6,000 athletes.
Not all of the runners participated in the meets. Some just wanted to stay in shape for spring sports in an organized atmosphere.
“The kids were absolutely wonderful to work with. They were responsible, cooperative, respectful and appreciative,” said Lisa Keiper. “I think I speak for all the adults who worked with the team, it was worth the time and effort for the benefits it gave the kids.”