Marian’s Capparell medals twice at states
By PATRICK MATSINKO
SHIPPENSBURG – Tina Capparell pushed until the very end.
The Marian senor closed the book on a remarkable high school career Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships by adding two more accomplishments to an already extraordinary resume.
Capparell walked away from Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium with a silver medal in the Class 2A 1600 and an eighth place finish in the 800.
“I’m so sad to see it all come to an end, but it’s been an unforgettable four years,” said Capparell, who was sixth in the 1600 last season. “I couldn’t have done it without all the people who helped me along the way.”
A roaring start in the 1600 gave Capparell an early lead in the event. She held it for the first lap before ceding to eventual champion Melissa Riggins of Shady Side. The freshman won the race with a time of 4:52.33.
“I’m so excited, just as a senior, it just means so much,” said Capparell. “I was ahead the first lap, and then she (Riggins) passed me, and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just stick on her.’ And she pulled me, and I ran my PR, so I’m really happy with it.
“I really wasn’t sure what to expect; I never ran against her. She ran her PR by a couple seconds (Riggins ran a 4:56.66 in the prelims Friday). I just really wanted to focus on that last sprint coming in, and letting her set that pace.”
Capparell stuck on Riggins until they hit about 300 meters to go, which is when the freshman extended her advantage.
But Capparell never quit.
“I never really gave up when she started pulling away a little bit,” Capparell said. “I was just trying to focus on holding my spot. But anything can happen in those races.
Capparell blew past her prelim time of 5:08.05 in the finals, something that was a great source of pride for the Delaware commit.
“Just to have a race like that, as my last 1600 as a senior in high school, it just means so much,” Capparell said.
She returned later in the afternoon with an impressive run in the 800, holding onto the final medal spot with a time of 2:20.83, no easy feat on a warm day.
“I definitely tried to stay out of the sun,” said Capparell. “I stood under the tent for a long time just trying to cool down, but it’s still hot.”
Riggins also won the 800, finishing with a time of 2:16.38.
Capparell’s game plan was simply to do whatever it took to leave with another medal.
“I just pretty much followed them,” Capparell said of the pack. “I was just pretty much trying to see if I could get a medal; I wasn’t going for a time. It was hot, so it definitely made it difficult.
“Coming down that backstretch I saw seven, and I was like, ‘OK, I just gotta hold it.’”
She did. And now she finishes her career as a three-time state medalist.
“I’ve grown to love it here,” Capparell said of Shippensburg. “Just the whole atmosphere; it’s so nice.”
While Capparell returned to a familiar spot on the podium, three Times News area athletes placed at states for the first time Saturday.
Lehighton’s Tahmir Spencer powered his way to a third place finish in the Class 2A 200.
“It means a lot,” said Spencer. “Being able to come here, and get the medal, it pays off everything that I’ve been doing the whole year.”
Spencer ran a 22.53 in the finals after finishing third (22.79) in his semifinal heat.
“I said I had to leave with a medal,” said Spencer. “My goal was to get a sixth or above, so placing third is even better. It’s pretty good.”
Spencer noted improvements he’s made in the event for helping him reach his goal.
“I’ve gotten better since the beginning of the year to now,” he said “There’s been a really big change; I’ve noticed that.”
Spencer had plenty of competition. Dock Mennonite senior Austin Kratz set a PIAA record with a time of 21.27 in the semis. Kratz won the final in 21.30.
“It definitely helps me to push harder, because I’m used to being in the front, so when someone is in front of me, it makes me push harder,” said Spencer. “My goal was pretty much to PR, then place pretty high.
“I’m just happy I get the medal. That’s great.”
Spencer narrowly missed qualifying for the finals – and guaranteeing himself a second medal – in the 100. He ran an 11.25 and was sixth in his semifinal.
Palmerton’s Jake Martinez and Tamaqua’s Khalid Holland both grabbed eighth place medals.
Martinez ran a smart race in the Class 2A 1600, methodically working his way through the pack to finish with a time of 4:29.63 for his first state medal.
“Words can’t even describe it,” Martinez commented. “I’ve been working so hard, and it’s been such a long season. It’s been a long few years, and for one of my main goals to pay off, there’s nothing better.
“I wanted to start out smooth, towards the back of the pack so I didn’t get pushed around too much, and worked my way up. I basically counted up, saw the eighth place runner, and was like, ‘I just gotta hang with him.’”
Martinez moved himself into seventh before settling into eighth.
“Working my way up through the race, I actually felt pretty comfortable, pretty calm,” he said. “It was the last 100 meters that’s the scariest, because I know exactly what place I’m in. And I was like. ‘Please, just don’t let other people pass me.’
“So to be able to hold on, that was definitely the scariest part of the race.”
Holland cleared 13-0 and finished tied for eighth in the Class 2A pole vault.
“I came a long way,” said Holland. “I never would have pictured being a medalist, let alone a qualifier. It’s all good.”
Holland was seeded 16th in the event, which made the podium finish that much sweeter.
“I wasn’t expected to do as good as I did, so it felt good in the end,” he said. “It was very exciting, and I’m happy about that.”
Holland cleared 13-0 on his first attempt, but was unable to get over 13-6.
“I thought, originally, 13-6 would have guaranteed me a medal,” said the junior. “That’s what I was shooting for, but I fell short. But I still got a medal in the end.
“I was very nervous. I jumped (at 13-6) and I tried my best, but I just gotta come back next year.”
Holland has made tremendous strides in the event. He best height last year as 11-6.
“I think my turn up top has gotten better,” said Holland. “But I still think it can improve.
“And next year, I just gotta come back stronger, and train more, and hopefully I can get a higher placing next year.”
Weatherly’s Emily Zoscin (12.78) and Jim Thorpe’s Emma Dunbar (13.03) failed to move on to the Class 2A 100 finals. But both were happy to get to run their semifinal heat together, and side-by-side.
“It was amazing to get to run with Emma, because we became so close throughout the season, and it was just awesome to be able to finish right next to her,” said Zoscin, who advanced to the semis for the second straight year. “That was just a great feeling, and I’m so happy she made it to semis with me. It was just a great feeling.
Zoscin and Dunbar were 1-2 at districts, with Zoscin taking gold for the second year in a row.
“It was awesome,” said Dunbar, who made it to states for the first time. “I’m really happy I made it. It’s my senior year. This is what I wanted since freshman year, and to have Emily with me the whole time. We’ve been friends for two years,, so it was a great experience.”
Palmerton’s Jordan Nelson (15.67) was seventh in his 2A 110 hurdle semifinal, and did not advance.
A Colonial League and District 11 champion in the event, Nelson relished the opportunity to compete at the state meet.
“It’s been pretty humbling,” said Nelson. “Getting into events in the second round, going against better competition.
“I knew I couldn’t take that prelims easy, and that I had to run a good time. I just focused on myself, and didn’t worry about anybody else.”
Northern Lehigh’s Robert Shoff finished 16th in the 2A triple jump with a mark of 40-08.0 in his first trip to states.
“The atmosphere is great,” the senior said. “There’s a lot of good competition, and you can see what other kids have, that you’ve never seen before. It was a fun experience. I liked it.”
Results of Times News area athletes:
100 – Emily Zoscin, Weatherly, 12.78, sixth in semifinal, does not advance to finals; Emma Dunbar, Jim Thorpe, 13.03, eighth in semifinal, does not advance to finals
3200 relay – Tamaqua (Sarah Maue, Frances Kabana, Brianna Dumond, Olivia Stanek), 9:53.63, 10th overall
Shot put – Franki Dibilio, Northern Lehigh, 32-11.5, 22nd overall; Devon Lignore, Jim Thorpe, 31-05.5, 23rd overall
1600 – Tina Capparell, Marian, 5:01.22, second overall
800 – Tina Capparell, Marian, 2:20.83, eighth overall; Lydia Wallace, Jim Thorpe, 2:26.89, 12th overall
Discus – Isabelle Meckes, Lehighton, 122-0, ninth overall
110 hurdles – Jordan Nelson, Palmerton, 15.67, seventh in semifinals, does not advance to finals
100 – Tahmir Spencer, Lehighton, 11.25, sixth in semifinals, does not advance to finals
200 – Tahmir Spencer, Lehighton, 22.79, third in semifinals, advances to final; Spencer, 22.53 in finals, third overall
1600 – Jake Martinez, Palmerton, 4:29.63, eighth overall
Triple jump – Robert Shoff, Northern Lehigh, 40-08.0, 16th overall
Pole vault – Khalid Holland, Tamaqua, 13-0, tied for eighth overall
200 – Nujai Walcott, Jim Thorpe, 23.01, eighth in semifinals, does not advance to finals
Discus – William Munson, Jim Thorpe, 126-01, 20th overall