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PIAA track and field preview: Christian School of York sophomore cruises to first appearance

Time schedule for area PIAA qualifiers

Behind Christian School of York sits a grass field mostly used for soccer. It turns into a makeshift track-and-field training area during the spring.

Nicole Shelton begins her runs here in preparation for this weekend's PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg. She is running track for the first time this spring after the urging of older brother and senior, Jesse Shelton. His suggestion has led Nicole down a path traveled by few Crusaders.

"I know in the last five years, she's the first one to qualify for districts," fourth-year coach Mark Semke said. "This is, by far, the biggest year we've had so far."

Shelton is just a sophomore, so this could become commonplace. She stepped off the podium last Friday after the girls' Class AA 3,200-meter race in Shippensburg somewhat overwhelmed.

"I'm pretty shocked," she said at the time. "This is crazy."

A two-mile run in 11 minutes, 52 seconds shattered Shelton's personal record by 12 seconds and earned her a silver medal.

While most competitors traveled to Shippensburg in school vans or buses, Shelton rode in an assistant coach's car with a few teammates who came just to cheer her on for Friday's 3,200 and Saturday's 1,600. Shelton wound up placing sixth in the 1,600, just missing state qualification there by a few tenths of a second.

"She's not really worried about that," Semke said.

Shelton didn't run her first competitive race until early April at Northern York's Arctic Blast. By month's end, she qualified for the district meet at Central York's White Rose Invitational. Other than invites, there weren't many opportunities to run for Shelton or CSY.

The small school has a high-school enrollment of about 65 and is tucked across the street from Cousler Park, where Shelton treks for distance running. She hasn't run the two-mile more than 10 times, yet she's made it this far.

"From the first race till now, she's probably dropped 1:12," Semke said. "She still doesn't know how good she is."

The coach stalks the track to remind her.

He waited outside the second turn at Central to push Shelton with encouragement. Last weekend, he stood outside the fence around the first turn with advice for his novice runner.

"Sometimes I have to encourage her to go," he said.

Shelton rarely used strategy in her races before reaching Shippensburg. That changed last Friday, and an aggressive approach allowed her to lead about half of the 3,200-meter run. Semke said it's why she finished second, ahead of her fourth-place seeding.

This weekend, she is seeded 15th for the 3,200 state championship. Shelton will run the first heat, which leads off the track events at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Until then, she spends the week preparing behind CSY and across the street. Shelton played soccer in the fall, so she is used to the rough, unpaved grass tracks.

Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.

Time schedule for area PIAA qualifiers


9 A.M.

Girls' Class AA pole vault: 8. Grace Riedel, Delone Catholic.

Girls' AAA shot put: 14. Sydney Alderman, Red Land.

11 A.M.

Boys' AAA 110 hurdles: 23. Owen Ritter, Dallastown.

11:30 A.M.

Girls' AAA 100: 16. Lynne Mooradian, South Western.

Boys' AA 100: 21. Tavian Dorsey, Delone Catholic.

Boys' AAA 100: 28. Shay Feulmer, Spring Grove.


Boys' AAA 400 relay: 17. William Penn.

12:30 P.M.

Girls' AA discus: 15. Bre Smith, Littlestown.

Girls' AAA javelin: 13. Madison Smith, New Oxford.

Boys' AAA pole vault: 3. Keith Steele, Northern York. 20. Nathan Sharrah, Gettysburg.

Boys' AAA triple jump: 7. Ravaughn Dillard, Gettysburg. 11. Tyler Buckley, Susquehannock. 19. Kobe Wansel, Gettysburg.

2 P.M.

Girls' AAA 400: 22. Amari Johnson, Dallastown.

Boys' AAA 400: 11. Thad Cwiklinski, York County Tech.

3 P.M.

Girls' AAA 300 hurdles: 10. Lynne Mooradian, South Western. 26. Arrion Sorrell, Red Land.

Boys' AAA 300 hurdles: 19. Larell Anderson, William Penn.

3:30 P.M.

Girls' AAA 800: 10. Erin Wilson, Central York.

Boys' AAA 800: 14. Ethan Gatchell, Red Lion.

4 P.M.

Girls' AAA 200: 23. Lynne Mooradian, South Western.

4:30 P.M.

Girls' AAA 1,600 relay: 18. Dallastown.

Saturday (Listed Track events are finals)

9 A.M.

Girls' AA 3,200: 15. Nicole Shelton, Christian School of York.

Girls' AAA 3,200: 11. Maddie Ferner, Kennard-Dale.

Boys' AAA 3,200: 18. Zach Seiger, Red Land.

Girls' AAA pole vault: 7. Alexis Baublitz, Central York.

12:30 P.M.

Boys' AA pole vault: 3. Danny Stoner, Biglerville.

Boys' AAA long jump: 11. Phillip Marshall, York Suburban.

12:45 P.M.

Girls' AA 1,600: 20. Kate Mowrey, Delone Catholic.