Dock's Austin Kratz cruises into Saturday's PIAA track finals

When Bailey Kratz watches her little brother run, sometimes she still thinks of the 8-year-old boy who couldn’t beat her in backyard races.

Not many beat Austin Kratz in footraces these days. The Dock Mennonite senior is the one to beat in this weekend’s Class 2A sprints at the PIAA championships at Shippensburg.

On Friday morning, Kratz added a silver medal in the long jump to his family’s growing list of athletic accolades.

Kratz, who will compete at Arizona State next season, jumped 22 feet, 8 inches and finished second to Schuylkill Valley’s Joe Jardine, who jumped 23-1/4.

In the 100 and 200 meters, however, Kratz led all heats with runs of 11.09 and 21.83 seconds, respectively. He entered as the top seed in both events (10.54 and 21.04) and will compete in Saturday’s semifinals.

“I’m more of a sprinter,” he said. “Long jump is not my main event, and Schuylkill Valley has amazing jumpers that I knew I’d have to compete with. There’s really good competitors in the 100 and 200 as well. I just know I’m stronger in those events” than long jump.

Racing Bailey, who qualified for the PIAA championships three years in a row while at Dock and finished fourth in the long jump as a sophomore, may have helped.

One of their favorite jokes, he said, is that Bailey would always beat him in a race to a tree in their yard, and Kratz would get so mad that he’d run around the house three times.

“Because me as an 8-year-old thought that would get me faster,” he said, laughing.

Clearly it worked.

Perhaps it helps that his father, Rod, was also an athlete as was Kratz’s mother, Carissa. His grandfather, John Kratz, ran in the Penn Relays with Souderton.

“We’ve always been competitive since we were little,” said Bailey, who plays soccer at Bridgewater College in Virginia. “But I just love to see him continue to grow, and he’s becoming a great young man, and I can’t wait to see him again in college.”

No need to worry for Warren

Perkiomen Valley junior Christina Warren sat on her rump in the infield, legs stretched out, palms on the ground behind her and just stared at the ground.

Camera icon KRISTON JAE BETHEL
Christina Warren of Perkiomen Valley takes her final jump in the 3A triple jump.

Meanwhile, in the stands across from the triple jump runway, her coach, Ron Livers, and her mother, Celeste Warren, cheered loudly when it was revealed her jump of 40-11 1/4 inches was the winner.

Still, Warren, who won the 3A triple jump last year, sat in a meditation-like trance. Or perhaps she was thanking the Man upstairs.

“It was a lot of relief to finally pull through,” she said, laughing. “I was probably muttering a few ‘Thank you, Jesuses.’ ”

Warren had not been performing her best in recent weeks, Livers said, and fell to second place when the triple jump finals began on Friday.

“Here once you’ve already won there’s an expectation to maintain,” Livers said. “Otherwise it would be an upset, and no one wants to be on the other end of an upset.”

Livers, the PIAA triple jump champion at Norristown in 1972 an 1973 and a standout at San Jose State University, suggested she quiet her arms. She also quieted her mind.

“I only jump well when I’m calm,” she said, “so I had to focus on that.”

Cooper is the champ

When Akeem Cooper was a freshman, he thought he was finished with the triple jump.

He felt overlooked. He felt underestimated. He didn’t think he got a fair shake.

Now he’s a champion.

Camera icon KRISTON JAE BETHEL
Cooper celebrates after completing the triple jump for the gold medal.

The Imhotep senior earned gold on Friday in Class 3A with help from a 48-4 1/2-inch jump and a sizable ticker.

“This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever felt,” he said. “I’ve been wanting this thing ever since freshman year.”

He stopped competing after indoor season as a freshman. His 5-8, 150-pound frame, and a few poor showings, he thought, made him feel forgotten.

Things changed, however, when he learned better techniques, honed his craft and used something other than his legs.

“Me jumping with heart,” he said, “because I’m the shortest guy out there. I don’t let height [intimidate] me. ‘You’re tall, but you’re going to have to work for this win.’ ”

Strath Haven senior Dayo Abeeb, who will compete at Princeton, finished second at 47-8.

Cooper, an honor roll student who wants to study mechanical engineering, will compete at Youngstown State.

“Just to know that I have the ability to jump at this height makes me believe that I can do way more in the future,” Cooper said. “Once I go to a school and start lifting weights, getting coached by D-1 coaches is exciting for me, knowing that they can take me to different levels. Hopefully they can take to my dream of being in the Olympics.”

Updates and Saturday’s hopefuls

West Chester Rustin senior Charles Dever, who finished second in the pole vault championship at the Penn Relays, finished second again in the boys’ 3A final on Saturday. East Pennsboro senior Payton Morris, who also bested Dever at Franklin Field last month, cleared 16 feet. Dever injured his ankle, got it checked out by a trainer and continued on but didn’t clear higher than 15-6.

Girard College track star Thelma Davies ran 11.96 in the 100 and 24.67 in the 200 to lead all 2A preliminary heats and will continue on in Saturday’s semifinals.

Camera icon KRISTON JAE BETHEL
Thelma Davies (second from left) of Girard College finished first in prelims of the 2A 100 meters.

Swenson junior Jada Smith (25.36) and Neumann-Goretti sophomore Mykala Perry (25.53) will also compete in the 200.

Neumann-Goretti senior Sydni Townsend (14.89) trailed only Susquehanna senior Skyla Wilson (14.68) in the preliminaries of the 100 hurdles and moved on to Saturday’s semis. Townsend (43.95) and Smith (44.36) also posted the top times, respectively, in the 300 hurdles and will continue on Saturday.

The results

Girls’ Class 3A

Triple Jump – 1. Christina Warren, Perkiomen Valley, 40-11.25; 2. Ayanna Burrell, Stroudsburg, 39-10.75; 3. Madison Langley-Walker, Upper Dublin, 38-11.25; 4. Natalie Kwortnik, North Penn, 38-7.50; 5. Tesia Thomas, West York, 38-1; 6. Karina Long, Lower Dauphin, 37-9; 7. Taylor Givens, State College, 37-6.50; 8. Miazziah Rose, Pottsgrove, 37-3.75.

Pole Vault – 1. Mackenzie Horn, Manheim Township, 13-3; 2. Abby Norwillo, Pittston, 12-6; 3. Sydney Horn, Manheim Township, 12-0; 4. Carena Nottoli, Hempfield (Dist. 3), 12-0; 5. Danielle Heine, Abington Heights, 11-6; 6. Victoria Atkinson, Scranton Prep, 11-6; 7. Lily Plute, State College, 11-6; 8. Molly DeBone, Hempfield (Dist. 3), 11-6.

Shot Put – 1. Payden Montana, Berwick, 51-0, PIAA Record; 2. Keeley Suzenski, Berks Catholic, 44-5.75; 3. Piper Klinger, Selinsgrove, 41-0.25; 4. Abby Whitaker, Corry, 40-8.25; 5. Maria Deaviz, Souderton, 40-3; 6. Mackenna Orie, Hempfield (Dist. 7), 40-2.25; 7. Laurel Bristow, Baldwin, 39-9; 8. Airika McCaskill, Spring Grove, 39-3.

Girls’ Class 2A

High Jump – 1. Lydia Bottelier, Palisades, 5-8; 2. Emily Lunger, Athens, 5-4; 3. Lauren Michina, Penn Cambria, 5-4; 4. Emma Pavalek, Beaver, 5-4; 5. Taylor Newton, Elk County Catholic, 5-4; 6. Michaela Bracken, United, 5-4; 7. Leah Miller, Punxsutawney, 5-4; 8. (tie) Rachel Spangler, Bermudian Springs, 5-2; Amelia Skowron, Quaker Valley, 5-2.

Long Jump – 1. Breana Gambrell, Athens, 19-11, PIAA Record; 2. Brenna Cavanaugh, Bentworth, 17-10.50; 3. Zoe Roush, Forest Hills, 17-9.75; 4. Sara McKean, Oswayo Valley, 17-9; 5. Lydia Bottelier, Palisades, 17-4.25; 6. Tara Gologram, Hopewell, 17-4; 7. Lyric Janosik, Penn Cambria, 17-1.75; 8. Sophia Gardner, Loyalsock, 16-10.50.

Discus – 1. Maura Huwalt, South Park, 139-1; 2. Sam Dyson, Punxsutawney, 136-4; 3. Mallory Kauffman, Greenwood, 136-3; 4. Michaela Burkhauser, Hickory, 131-10; 5. Trinity Clark, Kane, 127-3; 6. Emma McClafferty, Marian Catholic, 125-10; 7. Adrian Page, Coudersport, 123-0; 8. Molly Piso, Hickory, 121-8.

Javelin – 1. Trinity Clark, Kane, 146-9; 2. Skylar Sherry, Johnsonburg, 140-2; 3. Lillian Hill, North East, 137-0; 4. Marissa Bitonti, California, 134-4; 5. Cambrie Campbell, Moniteau, 130-10; 6. Madison Hawthorne, Greenville, 130-5; 7. Maura Huwalt, South Park, 130-1; 8. Jocilyn Thompson, Marion Center, 125-7.

Boys’ Class 3A

Triple Jump – 1. Akeem Cooper, Imhotep Charter, 48-4.50; 2. Dayo Abeeb, Strath Haven, 47-8; 3. Lance Hamilton, State College, 46-11.75; 4. Jakari Lomax, Harrisburg, 46-11; 5. Ky’ron Harbin, Scranton, 46-6.75; 6. Naheem Moore, Coatesville, 46-1.50; 7. Jacob Shedd, Franklin Regional, 45-9.50; 8. D.J. Hamilton, Northeastern, 45-6.75.

 Pole Vault – 1. Payton Morris, East Pennsboro, 16-0; 2. Charles Dever, West Chester Rustin, 15-6; 3. Randy Shoemaker, William Tennent, 15-0; 4. Dalton Burnham, Hershey, 14-6; 5. (tie) Jack Codispot, Butler, 14-6; Tyler Delozier, Altoona, 14-6; 7. Luke Knipe, State College, 14-6; 8. Bryant Durant, North Penn, 14-6.

Shot Put – 1. John Eakin, Bradford, 58-10.75; 2. Nickolas Hyde, Somerset, 57-7.75; 3. Bailey O’Malley, Baldwin, 55-9.25; 4. Jeff Kline, Fleetwood, 54-6.75; 5. Keith Dreese, Selinsgrove, 54-1.50; 6. Derek Moore, Chambersburg, 53-10; 7. Brandon George, Berks Catholic, 51-8.75; 8. Zach Gehm, Seneca Valley, 50-7.

Boys’ Class 2A

High Jump – 1. Darius Johnson, Valley, 6-7; 2. Dantae Ranieri, Hopewell, 6-6; 3. John Reichenbach, Salisbury, 6-4; 4. Kolt Byers, Bermudian, 6-4; 5. Connor Hess, Canton, 6-4; 6. Dominick Caputo, Montoursville, 6-2; 7. (tie) Noah Berry, Quaker Valley, 6-2; Samuel Hetrick, Redbank Valley, 6-2.

Long Jump – 1. Joe Jardine, Schuylkill Valley, 23-0.25; 2. Austin Kratz, Dock Mennonite, 22-8; 3. Brendan Sparr, Schuylkill Valley, 22-1; 4. John Reichenbach, Salisbury Township, 21-5.75; 5. Jason Kraner, Shenango, 21-1.5; 6. Thomas Bhangdia, Lewisburg, 21-0.25; 7. Bryan Dworek, Brookville, 20-10; 8. Brian Glen, West Shore Christian, 20-10.

Discus – 1. Brock Grundy, Hickory, 163-4; 2. Dante Manetta, Trinity (Dist. 3), 157-6; 3. C.J. Dippre, Lakeland, 156-9; 4. James Parenti, Moniteau, 155-10; 5. Duane Knisley, Chestnut Ridge, 153-5; 6. Alex Martin, Dock Mennonite, 151-11; 7. Darien Yeager, Danville, 150-7; 8. Bailey Blint, Kane, 144-5.

Javelin – 1. Ethan Dabbs, Richland, 217-6; 2. Noah Drudy, Hopewell, 215-0; 3. Josh Dinges, Montoursville, 191-6; 4. Hunter Niedrowski, Wyomissing, 187-8; 5. John Paronish, Northern Cambria, 184-4; 6. Gavin Darcy, Dunmore, 183-8; 7. Jared Mowery, Danville, 183-7; 8. Riley Hummell, Clarion, 182-0.