LOCK HAVEN - Although it was cloudy, overcast and a little chilly, there were some good efforts that came out of Hubert Jack Stadium for The Express coverage area teams as the 15th Annual LHU Track & Field Classic unfolded Saturday.
One of the duels between two area athletes took place early as Austen Randecker of Central Mountain nipped Bellefonte's Sean Gipson to win the long jump title. Randecker's best effort was 21-feet, 5 1/2 inches, while Gipson fell an inch and a half short of Randecker with a best of 21-feet, 4 inches.
"I didn't start out very well because I scratched on my first two jumps, but then I was able to get a 20-feet, 6-inch jump to get into the finals," Randecker said. "Going into the finals I just felt that I was going to get off a good jump because my steps were on."
For Randecker and Gipson, their friendly battle was nothing new. They had gone at itearlier in the season in a dual meet.
"In our home meet with them we battled," Randecker recalled. "I had taken one jump and had 20-feet, six and then he went ahead of me by an inch. On my last jump, I was able to get him by a half inch."
Later in the meet, Randecker recorded his second place-winning effort with a leap of 41-feet, 2.25 inches in the triple jump.
"The triple jump used to be my best event when I was younger," Randecker said, "but now it seems that I am consistently doing better in the long jump. I am not sure why that is the case. I guess it is just one of those things."
As for Gipson, he had to overcome some adversity to pick up his silver medal.
"My first jump was bad and I scratched on my second one," Gipson said. "My third jump is what got me into the finals when I jumped a 20-feet five. In the finals, again I had a bad jump on my first one and I don't know what happened on my second one because I started off on the wrong foot and I just completely scratched. With one jump left I just told myself, whatever happens, happens, so I decided to do the best I could and have fun with it. I think that relaxed me real well because I was able to jump my 21-4."
Entering into the meet, Gipson knew that Randecker would be a tough opponent.
"Going into the meet, we knew that Randecker was going to do really well," Gipson said. "I just went into the event saying, hey, if I beat him, I beat him, and if I don't, I just want to put forth a good effort. Throughout the event, he (Randecker) and I were talking and helping each other and that was a really cool thing."
Not satisfied with a runner-up finish to Randecker in the long jump. Gipson came back later in the meet to capture his specialty, the 400-meter dash. Pushed to the finish line by Montoursville's Garrett Evans, the Red Raider junior posted a winning time of 51.33 to Evans clocking of 51.60.
"The one thing I really worked on last year with coach was the first hundred meters because it was kind of slow," Gipson said. "That is what I try to think about before the race and today I did a good job of getting out. I stuck with the pack really well on the backstretch and then coming into the last 200, I started my kick and it was a good one. I felt really good about it."
As for Evans, Gipson could hear him close behind him.
"I knew he had to be close because I could hear him behind me, but I just told myself to run the race and things will work out," Gipson said. "If I was going to win it, I was going to win it, and if not, I just wanted to do the best that I could and I was able to do that."
Going into the meet, Gipson was hoping to have a shot at eclipsing his best time of 50.89, but Mother Nature had other thoughts about that happening.
"I was hoping to beat that (50.89), but I didn't," Gipson said. "When I ran my 50.89, the weather was perfect, but given the circumstances today, I am really pleased with my effort."
Wrapping up his busy day, Gipson also manufactured another place-winning effort with a 23.52 clocking in the 200-meter dash good for the fifth spot.
Teammates of Gipson's also coming up with place-winning efforts were Quinn Eicher with a 12-feet, 6 inch effort in the pole vault good for fifth. Quinn also gave the Red Raiders a pair of placewinners in the long jump with a leap of 20-feet, .5-inch good for seventh.
On the track, Raider Mitchell Smith placed eighth in the 1600-meter run with an effort of 4:43.1.
In addition to Randecker's efforts, Central Mountain had four other placewinners. Sam McCloy finished second in the high jump with a best effort of 5-11, Josh Nyman picked up a seventh-place finish in the 110 HH with a clocking of 16.40 and Aaron Fisher claimed the eighth spot in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:20.79. On the girls' side of things, Lady Wildcat Kaitlyn Walbridge finished in a three-way tie for fifth with a best effort of 4-7 in the high jump.
The Jersey Shore Bulldogs had a pair of place-winning efforts as Cody Allen finished a close second to Andrew Steely of Southern Columbia in the 1600-meter run with a fine clocking of 4:36.98, while Tyler Kachelries chucked the spear a distance of 166-feet, 4 inches, good for fourth place in the javelin.
For Allen, his time of 4:36.98 was his personal best.
"The first lap is always the hardest for me," said Allen. "You have to get out and go hard to stay with everybody because everybody is just flying. When the pack slows down, I just have to keep it in my head to keep going. That is when it becomes mental because you have to stay with the kid in front of you. If they aren't going my pace, then I just pass them."
Staying within a couple of meters of Steely, Allen just didn't have enough gas left in his tank to overtake the Tiger runner.
"He started his kick at the 200 (meter) mark," Allen said. "I tried to stay with him and then when he reached the 100 (meter) mark, that is when he really kicked it in and just took off. I gave it my all to the end, but I just didn't enough left to catch him."
The Lady Dawgs also had a pair of placewinners in the girls' meet, both in the javelin. Rikki Feerrar tossed the spear 111-feet even to finish fourth. while Feerrar's teammate, Alex Mahaffey, had a best effort of 108-1 which was good enough for sixth place.