SHIPPENSBURG >> Every goal, every challenge, Nicholas Marino kept rising above it, up and over, nice and clean.
His season of bold conquest culminated nicely Friday afternoon at Shippensburg University, the Hatboro-Horsham senior earning the gold medal in the Class 3A Pole Vault.
“It feels great. We were looking for it all season, just training and training and putting it all together at the last meet,” he said. “It’s very gratifying.”
Marino was the only one to clear 16 feet and very nearly was the only one — ever — to clear 16-7. With the win already secure, he went for the state record (16-6).
“I knew I was gonna tire out pretty fast from there. And I just really wanted to get to the big heights,” Marino said of going for 16-7. “I knew that I could do it. I was right there and I just couldn’t get out of (the bar’s) way. Ugh (laugh).”
Marino came to Shipp this year on a mission. He came so far last year, earning silver at states.
“I was happy with second place last year because I PR’d in everything,” said the senior, bound for Bucknell. “But I knew that I wanted to come back here and I knew I wanted to get gold. I had been training all season.
“I did kind of bad at the beginning of the indoor season and then finally put it together, and that’s where I really started to take off. I knew I was gonna get a nice, big jump at states. I knew I just had to put it together, be confident and relaxed with myself and perform to the best of my abilities.”
He was unmatched. And Nationals still await him.
Asked what it felt like to win the state title, Marino nailed it with just one word.
“Woo,” he said with a smile. “Pretty speechless to be honest.”
Exploring the field
Alex Sislo got it all started, placing fifth (22-2.5) in the Class 3A Long Jump.
“Hopefully I can get another one,” Sislo said of his state medal, “get a little clang going.”
Sislo’s words would be prophetic for La Salle, as the medals in the field began to accumulate.
And the experience proved to be much more than that.
“The atmosphere here is great. I’ve been here for four years,” Sislo said, “and I always say the most important part of this meet isn’t here (the track and field), it’s what you do over there (in the dorms). Because it’s an athletes’ village type of atmosphere.
“So you really gotta prepare the right way, come out here strong, all rested up.”
Next was Noah Walker, who threw the javelin 195 feet to push to a bronze for the Explorers.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I was just figuring, this is my last throw and my other ones haven’t been so hot. I just put everything into it.
“Working on technique and making sure every little thing is right really helped me increase my numbers (this year).”
The High Jump would provide the grand finale, as La Salle’s Jonathon Squadrito cleared 6 feet, 6 inches to get the gold. Squadrito came through masterfully, pulling off a stunner as a No. 12 seed going in.
“It’s amazing. To come out here and get first is one thing but also tying my PR is amazing,” the junior said. “It was a little rainy so you kind of had to think about that but throughout the whole thing, I felt good.
“We had a little slip-up during (the District 12 meet) where some of our teammates couldn’t make it out, but we’re jumping for them.”
No doubt for McLeod
Abington’s Sianni McLeod holds nothing back, especially with her throws.
“I just grip it and rip it — a lot of energy,” the senior said. “I try to get a lot of energy behind it, full speed and up.”
She did just that on Friday at states, conquering much of the field and pushing herself to a fourth-place finish in the 3A Shot Put with a throw of 41-1.5.
“I wanted to do what I did in districts, where I threw a 38, and because I was in first flight and knew I had to get into the finals, I knew I had to do what I had to do,” she said. “We had lifting Monday, did some hammers and light throws, went through technique Friday.
“Seeding didn’t make a difference to me. I knew I had to do what I had to do. It feels really good.”
The Abington standout heads to ESU next year, where she will throw shot, discus and possibly hammer.
Brissett shines in states finale
Cheltenham’s Chanel Brissett (USC) earned three medals in her final states performance, winning the 100 hurdles, getting silver in the 200, and teaming up with Bria Barnes, Giani Fleming and Alexis Crosby to win gold in the 4×1 (46.73).
“We did a really good job,” Brissett said. “It started to rain and I was like ‘I hate the rain, I hate the cold.’ So I think we did a really good job. At the end of the day we got the baton around, we finished the race, so that’s all that matters.”
The 4×1 win helped power the Panthers to 50.5 points, just a half point shy of their third consecutive team title.
Barnett battles for Basil
St. Basil’s Sophia Barnett came in as the 11th seed in the Class 2A Long Jump but found a way to earn herself a trip to the medal stand, coming through with a seventh-place finish with a leap of 17 feet, 3.5 inches.
“It’s really exciting. I wasn’t really expecting it,” the senior said. “I didn’t jump my best but it’s alright.”
Barnett’s last jump of the day Friday was the one that got it for her.
“That one actually felt the worse, which doesn’t make sense,” she said with a laugh. “My PR is 17-8 so I was trying to pass that but it didn’t happen. But that’s alright.”