SHIPPENSBURG >> The bar in the boys Class 3A high jump was at 6-7 and there were just two competitors left. One was Jonathan Squadrito of La Salle and the other was the top seed in the event, Penn Wood’s Dennis Manyeah.
After Squadrito failed on his first attempt it was Manyeah’s turn. The lanky senior easily cleared the bar with his back, but brushed it enough with his legs to knock it cleanly off the supports.
Manyeah slammed his hands down on the landing mat in disgust.
“I knew I was that close to being a state champion,” Manyeah said.
Neither Manyeah nor Squadrito could clear the height so they technically wound up tied at 6-6. Squadrito, though, received the gold medal and Manyeah was awarded the silver because Squadrito had fewer overall misses than Manyeah.
“I can’t be disappointed,” Manyeah said. “I still had a great season.”
Manyeah closed that campaign with three medals and a school record at the PIAA Track & Field Championships Saturday afternoon at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium.
In the morning, Manyeah teamed up with Todd Jackson, Inerji Sirleaf and Talus Gaymore to finish seventh in the 4 x 800-meter relay in a school-record time of 7 minutes, 46.07 seconds. That same group also placed seventh in the 4 x 400.
Manyeah’s performance highlighted a good day for Delco athletes at the state meet. Keon Rantin of Glen Mills was second in the 3A 200 for the second year in row, while Springfield’s Philip Shovlin placed fifth in the Class 3A 100-meter dash.
Liam Galligan of Springfield left Shippensburg with a state medal for the second straight year. He was eighth in the 3A 1,600. He was fourth in the event last year.
Radnor’s Peter Cooke and Cardinal O’Hara’s Ryan James also earned the first state outdoor medals of their respective careers. Cooke was seventh in the 3A 800, while Ryan was seventh in the 3A 1,600. Chester’s Braheem Bishop took seventh in the high jump.
In Class 2A, Neumann-Goretti’s Kamil Jihad, a resident of Chester, was third in the 800.
Manyeah was trying to become the first Delco athlete to win the state high jump title since Penncrest’s Darryl Dixon accomplished the feat in 1983. A slight rain did not help him or the other jumpers in their quest for a state title.
They all watched Qayyim Ali of Williamsport slip and fall under the bar during one of his run-ups. He recovered to finish in a tie for seventh with Bishop.
“The rain took out one of the best jumpers in the state,” Manyeah said. “I was afraid to run too fast.”
Manyeah managed to conquer his fears enough to get over 6-6 and make it a two-man race with Squadrito, which Squadrito won, but only by a hair.
“That means a lot to me because for the last three years I wasn’t able to get out of districts,” Manyeah said, “so to come here and win a state medal means a whole lot to me.”
The seventh-place medal in the high jump meant a lot to Bishop, too. He qualified for the high jump two years ago as a sophomore. He and his coaches decided to come up on the morning of the competition and that proved to be a grave mistake. Bishop missed his check-in time and did not get to compete.
This time around they came up Friday night so that would not be a problem. While he did slip a few times because of the rain, Bishop was able to jump 6-4 to tie Ali for seventh place.
“I did my best and came home with a state medal,” Bishop said. “I’m happy with that.”
Top photo: Dennis Manyeah narrowly missed out on a state title in the Class 3A high jump, but the senior collected three medals and was part of Penn Wood’s 4 x 800-meter relay team that established a school record Saturday at the PIAA Track & Field Championships. (Photo by Mike Reeves – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA).