SHIPPENSBURG– They will both go down in local sports history as two of the best-ever in boys’ distance running events.
And both of them ended their scholastic careers by capturing medals during the PIAA Track & Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Boyertown senior Dylan Eddinger came home with a third-place bronze medal in the Class AAA 800-meter run while Spring-Ford senior Paul Power earned a fourth-place medal in the 3,200-meter run. Eddinger had a time of 1:51.19 in the finals of the 800 while Power was clocked at 8:59.87 in the 3,200.
The only other local athlete to medal on Saturday was Spring-Ford senior Brandon Leacraft, who finished seventh in the javelin throw with a toss of 182 feet, 9 inches.
Eddinger had run the top time in the trials of the 800 Friday with a 1:54.87. But on Saturday, Cheltenham senior John Lewis came through with a new state record of 1:48.72 in the event. Lewis had been seeded at 1:49.15, but had run 1:55.40 during the preliminaries.
“It’s a state medal,’ said Eddinger. “Going to states was my goal all year long. I got the school record last week (at the District 1 Championships at Coatesville). We pushed as hard as we could this week. You don’t wait on this. I went out hard yesterday.’
Eddinger’s clocking still puts him with NFHS Honor Roll status, which goes to runners with times of 1:52.80 or better in the 800.
Eddinger will continue his academic and athletic careers at St. Joseph’s University, where he will major in marketing and minor in art.
Power ran his best time in the 3,200 in his first trip here, too, after years of standout competition in the PIAA Cross Country Championships during the fall. But he ran into some other hot competitors, especially Carlisle senior Zach Brehm, who finished with a new state record of 8:55.60.
Brehm entered the event seeded first at 9:09.5 while Power was seeded second after running a 9:15.51 during the District 1 meet last weekend.
“I was happy with my performance,’ said Power. “I got a medal and I also moved up to fourth so I was pretty happy. I really wanted to break nine (minutes). That was my goal coming into the season. I had to push myself to get me under the barrier. I stayed relaxed so I could pull up. I started gradually moving my way up at the end, and I had a pretty decent kick.’
Power talked about the end of the race.
“When I hit the last 100 meters, I thought this the last 100 meters I will ever run in high school so I gave it all I had,’ he said.
Power will continue his academic and athletic careers at Villanova University, where he will compete in cross country as well as winter and spring track. He plans to major in mechanical engineering, which will only serve to increase his workload.
Power will be remembered as Spring-Ford’s greatest all-around distance runner, setting a bevy of records, including a 2-mile run mark held by another Royersford area legend, Jim Franey, that had previously stood up since way back in 1967, a time span of nearly 50 years.
But he was ever so quiet, preferring instead to let his running speak for itself along with his work ethic. And when he was competing, Power simply ran like a machine, piling up the miles and never showing emotion on his face whether he was ahead, in the middle of the pack or trailing during a particular race.
Leacraft, who placed fourth at Shippensburg a year ago, slipped to seventh, but was still quite proud to garner a state medal in the javelin during his senior year. He came in with a seed of 180-0.
“I wish I would have been a little higher,’ said Leacraft. “Last year I took fourth place, and Bryan (Brandon’s twin brother) was fifth. I wish I had a better season this season. I want the best.’
Still, Brandon Leacraft will be moving on to the University of Iowa to continue throwing the javelin. And he will have a lot to look back on as a successful quarterback for the Spring-Ford football team and a solid thrower during spring track and field.
“I broke a couple (passing) records for football,’ said Leacraft. “And I won two medals with my javelin career. I’ve only been throwing the javelin for three years. That is not bad so I’m pretty excited.’
Bryan Leacraft, who came in seeded at 181-1, had an off day and finished with a best throw of 154-1, which put him in 23rd place.
Perkiomen Valley senior Joe Adighibe finished ninth in the long jump with a best leap of 21-7 3/4 in the finals to just miss a medal. Adighibe came in with a seed jump of 21-11 1/4. Unfortunately for him and his scholastic career, he was called for a foul on his final attempt.
Methacton senior Nicolette Serratore placed 10th in the girls AAA triple jump. Her top jump was 36-11 1/2. Serratore entered the competition with a seed jump of 36-8 ¾.
Methacton senior Tejarra Ellis finished 11th in the girls’ discus with a throw of 119-6 in the finals. Ellis came into the day seeded third in the event after recording a throw of 133-1 at districts last week.
Perkiomen Valley sophomore Annie Glodek finished 12th in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:59.64, which was slightly above her seed time of 10:55.19.
Owen J. Roberts sophomore Ally Brunton finished 12th in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:32.13. During the preliminaries, she ran a 2:17.03.
During the morning 100-meter dash semifinals Saturday, Perkiomen Valley junior Cheyenne Churchville ran a 12.59 in the second heat and did not advance to the finals. She placed fifth in her heat. Churchville’s time during Friday’s preliminaries was 12.49.