Wallenpaupack Area's varsity track teams fared well at districts
Winning the District Two Class AAA Track & Field championship has been something long sought by the Wallenpaupack Area squad.
After taking three Lackawanna League crowns in the last five seasons, the Buckhorn boys were sufficiently stoked to bring their game to the next level.
“This was a long time coming,” said veteran head coach Mark McHugh. “It’s a testament to these kids and their hard work.”
Unfortunately for the Bucks, they weren’t the only ones to rack up 80 points at the finals.
For the second time this season, the Paupack kids must contend with Scranton’s gents crowding their spotlight. Just like the Icebreakers earlier this spring, the Knights and the Buckhorns ended up in a tie.
“We thought we had a good lead going into the 4x400 relay, even if we blew it we thought we had enough points to win it all,” McHugh said. “Then we realized the triple jump scores hadn’t come in yet.
“Ky’ron Harbin from Scranton won that and that cut our lead to 75-72 coming into the last event.”
The Knights wound up taking second place in the closing relay while the Buckhorns team of Carter Schmalzle, Brian Durden, Steven Kober, and James Carrubba took fourth.
A difference of about two seconds would have given Paupack third and the one extra point they needed to spring ahead of Scranton.
That didn’t happen, but McHugh and the Buckhorns aren’t crying over the result,
After all, Paupack did beat Scranton in a dual meet.
A number of podium stands helped push Paupack to the top of the leaderboard throughout the day at Memorial Stadium.
Senior Thomas Johnson and freshman Dieter Burckes placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3200M.
Junior Chance Smith landed a 135-10 discus throw for a silver medal and classmate Connor Barnes brought home matching bling for his second-place pole vault of 12-6.
Adding to his fourth-place finish from the 4x400, senior Carter Schmalzle also took home a sixth place for a 40-09.25 triple jump and a fifth finish in the 400M.
Another senior, Brian Durden closed the 110M hurdles in fourth. However, the Bucks dominated the 1600M with Junior Tyler Wirth taking second, Burckes coming in third, and Kober claiming sixth.
Wirth also posted a third place in the 800M.
The Purple & White’s best showing of the day came in the 4x800 relay.
Capturing the gold for the Buckhorns was the quartet of Wirth, Kober, Johnson, and Carrubba.
They now move on to compete in the PIAA State Championships at Shippensburg University beginning on May 25.
Several Lady Bucks are also heading to states.
While the Paupack girls ended up in seventh overall, junior Mackenzie Turner took the top spot in the 400M and senior Samantha Killiany cleaned up in the 800M.
Both teamed up with sophomore Kara Campbell and junior Madison Nakielny to grab the gold in the 4x400 relay. Nakielny also earned a spot on the podium in the 400M by finishing third.
The girls squad posted a top finish in the 4x800M relay as well. Killiany, Turner and Campbell were joined this time by senior Lexi Gumble.
“The girls performed well,” McHugh stated.
“We don’t have the depth other teams do but we have some pretty good stars. Like every year our 4x400 team was a bunch of tough girls who brought home that win.
“Sammy has given us tremendous leadership on and off the field for another season, Mackenzie and Kara always give us everything they’ve got, and Madison really stepped up this year.”
Overall, McHugh was very pleased with how things panned out, both with the boys’ events as well as the girls.
For most of the Buckhorns heading to Shippensburg, it’s not their first trip to a state championship. Many have been there before, and several have competed at this level in other sports as well.
The light and zap of state level competition is something that shouldn’t faze them, and McHugh hopes that will factor into solid performances later this month.