The Buckhorns and Lady Bucks use Icebreaker Relays as a springboard into the Lackawanna League season
A total of 28 teams representing 14 different schools turned out Saturday morning to take part in the 19th Annual Icebreaker Relays.
The event was once again hosted by Wallenpaupack Area and featured more than 200 of the area's elite high school athletes.
“Overall, I think it was a great day” rookie head coach Mark McHugh said.
“The weather cooperated for the most part and everything went off without a hitch. I want to thank all the volunteers, officials, coaches and our new booster club for all their help. We couldn't have done it without them.”
Despite a gusty breeze off The Big Lake and chilly early spring temperatures, competition for the top spot on each side of the bracket was intense.
Lakeland fought off a spirited charge by the host Paupack squad to claim first place in the boys' standings.
The Chiefs were paced by Gavin O'Donnell, who ran a leg on each of three different relay teams (110M, 300M, 1600M).
In girls action, Pittston Area dominated the day once again. The Patriots tied for the top spot last year, but cruised to the team title this time around.
Pittston authored gold medal performances in the relays, throws and jumps, piling up 102 points to easily outdistance runner-up Lakeland (64 pts).
Paupack battled its way to a sixth place finish in the girls' rankings.
Honesdale also competed at this year's Icebreakers, finishing 11th among boys teams and 13th for the girls.
Although Paupack had to settle for silver on Saturday, several Buckhorns wrought gold individually or as relay team members.
Anthony Bouselli led the attack on the boys' side.
A senior who's already committed to the University of Virginia to continue his track & field career, Bouselli paced Paupack to wins in all three throwing events.
Anthony paired up with teammate David Wacker to win the shot (89'). He then made a second trip to the podium by combining with Shawn Reid to capture the discus (255' 8”).
Bouselli put the finishing touches on his throwing trifecta by teaming up with Kyle Hartman to take first place in the javelin (303').
“Anthony is a fantastic kid,” said Coach McHugh.
“He's one of our captains and just an outstanding leader on the track and in the classroom. Anthony sets a great example for our younger kids.”
Paupack also posted a relay win, jetting to victory in the 3200M.
In this one, the quartet of Brian Rose, Matt Sein, Anthony Guerrieri and Wacker combined to break the tape in a time of 8:38.3.
“I can't say enough about this group,” Coach McHugh said. “Brian Rose is another one of our senior captains and he's a pretty vocal leader. But, the other kids play extremely important roles, too.”
Although Paupack's girls squad managed just a sixth place finish overall, there was no shortage of exciting moments for Lady Buck fans.
In fact, the 4x100M relay team brought a roar from the home crowd by winning the event and setting a new meet record in the process.
The lightning-quick quartet of Jahmia Bridges-Butler, Hope Decker, Gretchen Hiller and Jasmine Stevenson combined to post a gold medal time of :50.86.
That's just a fraction off the all-time Wallenpaupack Area school record of :50.3, which has stood since 1982. It's also within shouting distance of this year's PIAA state qualifying mark of :49.97.
“That was absolutely amazing,” Coach McHugh said. “Those girls did a phenomenal job.
“It's only the the first week of April and we're already talking about school records and states. Let's just say that is a very pleasant surprise to me.”
Hope Decker provided the spark this particular relay team needed on Saturday morning.
A senior who specializes in middle and distance events, Decker was asked to step in for a sick teammate at the last moment. She responded by playing a key role in this new record.
“Once we got Hope to realize this wasn't an 800M, we were fine,” said Coach McHugh with a chuckle. “She really stepped up and did a great job.”
Over & Out
Next on the agenda for Paupack's varsity track & field teams is a Division I-II crossover meet against Scranton High.
This contest has already been re-scheduled twice due to uncooperative weather. However, it's now set for Thursday afternoon at home beginning at 4:15 p.m.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” said Coach McHugh. “I'm very pleased with how the year is going so far and I'm excited to see what our kids can do as the season progresses.”