PIAA TRACK AND FIELD: Jeronimo! Lebanon's Rodriguez leads county medal haul with state silver
SHIPPENSBURG >> Jeronimo Rodriguez was a little disappointed he didn't go faster.
And rightfully so, because he had gone faster in the very recent past.
But that was the only thing the Lebanon High senior sprinter could justifiably complain about on Saturday.
Rodriguez capped his high school track and field career with a close-to-the-ultimate prize, a state silver medal in the boys AAA 400 dash at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.
After clocking a time of 48.69 seconds en route to finishing third at last week's District Three Championships, Rodriguez slowed to a 49.12 on Saturday. But that was still enough to best all but Donovan St. Louis of Upper Darby, who won gold in 48.33 seconds.
It also gave Rodriguez his second straight state medal after finishing fifth a season ago.
His silver highlighted another successful day for Lebanon County competitors at Seth Grove Stadium as the state meet wrapped up.
Rodriguez's Lebanon High teammate Erin Winters grabbed a fifth place medal in the girls AAA pole vault, while Palmyra's revered 3200 relay team of Miranda Salvo, Jess Dembrowski, Maria Tukis and Katie Dembrowski claimed fourth place in girls AAA.
In addition, Cedar Crest's Evan Horn (javelin) and the 3200 relay of Jared Glosser, Jordan Cruise, Matt Royer and Jesse Cruise brought home sixth place medals in boys AAA.
On this day, though, Rodriguez stood above the rest of his country brethren, even if he wasn't totally satisfied with his performance.
"I thought I had a first or second (in me)," said the low-key Rodriguez. "I'm not really happy with my time, though. I got a 49, but I wanted a 48. But I was (seeded) fourth and jumped up two spots, so that's good. It feels good to go off with a nice bang."
And also to give the previously unheralded Lebanon High track and field team, along with Winters, two state medalists for the second year in a row.
"I think it's good for Lebanon, it's good for our name," Rodriguez said.
Winters, the co-No.1 seed would have dearly loved to add a gold to her teammate's silver, but it was not to be.
The Cedar senior cleared 12 feet in a deep field, but was unable to surpass the 12-6 barrier after a narrow miss on her first try and two subsequent failed attempts and settled for a tie for fifth.
"I wish I could have gotten the height, but my coach said my attempts were great, so that's all I care about," an upbeat Winters said. "My technique was a lot better than it was the last couple weeks and I'm really happy about it. I'm glad I got to place one last time."
Palmyra's 3200 relay got the one last medal they were looking for, too, and it was an emotional experience for seniors Tukis, Katie Dembrowski and Salvo, who ended their highly decorated and distinguished careers appropriately on Saturday. And in a school record time of 9:07.89.
Salvo added a second school record to her resume on Saturday after finishing 10th in the 3200 run in 10:52.76
"It's really special," said Katie Dembrowski, before choking back tears, of the quartet's final competition together.
"Obviously, we're very emotional," Tukis said, picking up where her good friend and teammate left off. "This has been, hands down, the best four years of my life with these four amazing girls. Just being able to get to this point is something you dream about."
Decidedly less emotional but no less impressive were Horn and the Crest 3200 relay, who each improved on their seeding while making it to the medal stand.
Horn, the Lancaster-Lebanon and District Three AAA champ, fired the spear a career-best 185 feet, three inches, while Glosser, Royer and the Cruises took sixth in 7:50.28 after entering as the eighth seed.
"Coach (Tim Brown) talked about starting fast instead of slow," said Horn, who won the L-L and district titles on his last throw after painfully slow starts at both meets. "I tried to get better hip drive on my throws; that's what I've definitely been working on the most and that's I haven't gotten in the past."
A slow start didn't keep the Crest 3200 relay from state medals, although it did play a role in preventing the goal of a top five finish.
"We wanted to get top five, that was kinda the goal," said Jordan Cruise. "A lot of teams ran faster than we though they would, but we got a PR. You can't be unhappy with that."
Also on Saturday, Palmyra's Alex Hoffsmith just missed a medal while placing ninth in the AAA boys javelin, Northern Lebanon's Dakota Leonhard took 12th in boys AAA shot put.