Lebanon County competitors enjoy 'senior moments' at state track
SHIPPENSBURG - Reagan Hess, Destinee Holloman, Jesse Cruise and Derin Klick competed in their final high school track and field meet on Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.
They made sure they'll remember it for all the right reasons.
Capping both distinguished seasons and careers, the four all made smiling trips to the medal stand during the final day of state meet competition at Shippensburg University.
Hess, as she often has, led the way, ending her storied career at Annville-Cleona with a bronze medal in the AA girls 100 meter dash, one day after capturing state silver in the long jump.
Cedar Crest's Cruise and Lebanon's Klick ended their careers with a bang as well, placing fourth in the boys AAA 1600 and 800, respectively, in personal-best times of 4:13.18 and 1:53.24.
Cruise's Crest teammate Holloman enjoyed twin senior moments, wrapping up an unsung hero-like season for the Falcons with two medals - a seventh in the AAA girls 100 while also teaming with sister DeAsia Holloman, Ariel Jones and Shayla Bonzelet to take seventh in the AAA 4 x 100 relay.
Not to be outdone were Palmyra juniors Camryn Simpson and Kirstin West, who walked away with fourth place medals in the AAA triple jump and javelin.
Simpson posted a personal-best jump of 18-5 en route to her medal, while reigning District 3 champ West fired the jav 139-2 for her fourth place hardware.
All honorable, memorable performances, but they line up career-wise behind Hess, whose remarkable four-year run of records and medals came to a conclusion when she took third in her final race in 12.15 seconds.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Hess said, grappling with her emotions. "The last couple weekends I've been having trouble with my hamstrings, so it's like I get to rest now. But I'm gonna miss everything."
That said, ending her career with two state medals was only sweet, not bittersweet.
"Yeah, it is a good feeling," she said. "You can only ask for so much."
For her part, Holloman couldn't have asked for any better way to end her career after anchoring a very good Cedar Crest girls team with superb performances week in and week out.
"It's every athlete's dream,' Holloman said. "My goal this year was to get a state medal and I was finally able to accomplish that with the help of my friends, family, coaches and teammates. I'm excited I was able to do that."
Cruise made a serious bid for gold in his last high school race, leading for the better part of the first three laps of the 1600 before fading, only slightly, to fourth.
"That was great," Cruise said. "It was also a school record, and that was a goal that I set. But I kinda wish it would have been higher obviously.. I don't think my coaches wanted me to go out that fast, but I wanted to get out, get away from the trouble and hold them off as long as I could."
Klick almost got caught in a too-fast pace, but adjusted to run a smart tactical race en route to his second straight state medal in his specialty event.
"It means a lot," Klick said. "It was a little nerve-racking going out that fast. I wasn't really feeling it, but I settled in past the first 200 and just rolled with it.
"It's been amazing. Without everyone else in the league and district I could have never done this."
While some were getting their last taste of earning a medal at states, Simpson and West were enjoying their first.
It was a particularly sweet taste for Simpson, who far outperformed her No. 16 seed.
"It's awesome, it's like my dream," Simpson said, grinning broadly. "I feel like I'm gonna cry, I'm so happy. After triple jump on Friday (did not make the finals) I had a lot of motivation today. And I set my school record again,which is always fun."
West was understandably pretty pleased to be able to follow up her semi-surprising district title last week with a strong effort at states.
"It's kinda been unreal. I can't believe that I got this far," West said. "I owe it all to my coach (Matt Opilo) basically, because he's worked so hard with me. And all the support from Palmyra has been fantastic."
Also on Saturday, Jones tied for 14th in the high jump and was 26th in the long jump while appearing to battle injury. Also from Cedar Crest, Hannah Woelfling was 15th in AAA girls discus.
In addition, Annville-Cleona's Stanley Miller saw his season come to an end shy of a medal after he finished seventh in his boys AA 100 dash semis and did not advance to the finals. Hess also did not advance to the 200 dash finals.
Another A-C competitor, Kayla Long, did not clear the opening height in the AA girls pole vault.