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PIAA Championships: Faith Christian’s Forker, Hatboro-Horsham’s Riches earn bronze in the field

SHIPPENSBURG >> Competition elevated Faith Christian’s Josh Forker beyond his expectations.

“It was awesome. It was definitely a blessing, because I did not come in here thinking I was ready to jump 6-foot-7,” the senior said on this sunny Friday afternoon at the PIAA Championships. “I wasn’t even ready to jump 6-4 today. So it was a great day, and I was very glad that I was able to have this opportunity in my career and I was able to set another P.R. today.”

Forker rose to the bronze medal in the Class 2A High Jump while Hatboro-Horsham’s Allison Riches claimed the bronze in the Class 3A Pole Vault, leading the way for locals on Day One at Shippensburg University.

“I never really had competition since states last year, so I was feeling that adrenaline, that rush to beat the next guy,” said Forker, who cleared 6-7. “Because at districts, everyone else got out at six feet, so I was by myself for a while.

“Being with two to six other guys from six feet on was definitely different for me.”

Forker outlasted fellow medalists Jake Hogg of Youngsville (6-6), Bryce Ellinger of Minersville (6-6), Michael Niemann of Lansdale Catholic (6-6), Darnel Howell of Monessen (6-2), Logan Pfister of Chestnut Ridge (6-2), Brandon Peterson of Smethport (6-2) and Zach Moyer of Northern Lehigh (6-2). Pfister, Peterson and Moyer all tied for eighth.

Bermudian Springs’ Kolt Byers won the gold on number of attempts at 6-7, and Tulpehocken’s Tyler Hulse was the silver medalist at 6-7 as well.

“I was feeling it,” Forker said, “definitely had a rush.”

Hatboro-Horsham’s Allison Riches earned the bronze in the Class 3A Pole Vault on May 24, 2019.

Back at states for the second time, Riches was at ease.

“Last year, I was a nervous wreck,” she said with a smile. “I couldn’t focus whatsoever. I was too scared just being here. But this year, when I saw the officials and everything, I saw it was the same official from last year and I was calm, relaxed. I was a little nervous but I was definitely in a better state of mind.”

Riches, headed to New Balance Nationals, cleared the bar at 12 feet, pushing past fellow medalists Lyndsey Reed of State College (12-0), Nickolina Annelli of Methacton (11-6), Jamilie Atiyeh of Allentown Central Catholic (11-6), Danielle Heine of Abington Heights (11-6) and Camaryn Rodriguez of Methacton (11-6).

Manheim Township’s Sydney Horn was the gold medalist at 13 feet, with Central Dauphin’s Gabrielle Recce claiming the silver at 12-6.

“It is exciting. I think I did better at districts because there, I made a lot of first attempts, but I’m glad I was still able to pull through and do a first attempt on 12 and clear on first try and I think that’s why I did okay today,” Riches said. “I felt consistent. I seem to have cleared either on first try or second attempt. My run was looking good. I just had to make sure I kept my form at the top and at the takeoff.

“I’m really happy I got third in the state. I wasn’t expecting it.”

Said Riches’ coach, Ginger Lemon: “She’s been jumping barely three years. To get third in the state is awesome. We needed that first attempt at 12 to do it. If (Recce) hadn’t cleared 12-6, I think (Allison) would have had second. It was so close. It was amazing.”

North Penn’s Anais Williams placed fifth in the Class 3A Triple Jump on May 24, 2019.

Later in the afternoon, North Penn’s Anais Williams triple jumped to fifth place in Class 3A, hitting her personal best with her first leap of the day. She then topped it again (38-4.25).

“It’s always good to see all of the competition, to see everyone do amazing and all of their hard work pay off,” she said.

St. Basil’s Sasha Lee placed fifth in the Class 2A Long Jump on May 24, 2019.

St. Basil’s Sasha Lee had a leap of 17-3 to rise to fifth in the Class 2A Long Jump.

“Training made a difference for me this year,” she said. “I could have done a little better, but I feel good about my performance.”

Day Two of States is back at Shipp on Saturday, with all track finals as well as more finals in the field.

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