COATESVILLE — From injured sprinter to district-champion thrower.
Jonah Chavez’s journey typified that of his team.
“It’s amazing. I’ve worked with these guys every day for the past three years,” the Dock senior said Saturday afternoon. “We had hard days, we had good days. But the thing that kept us going is that we love each other. And we worked to the bitter end.
“And even though this is the end, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
The Pioneers combined their many efforts for another district team title, as Dock repeated as District 1-2A Champions and captured its sixth trophy in the past 10 seasons.
It was a scorching afternoon at Coatesville High, but one that culminated with the Pioneers raising their heads – and the trophy – high in the air.
Said Chavez of his districts experience: “Hot, certainly hot. But overall the weekend was unforgettable.”
It was a weekend that saw Hatboro-Horsham’s Brian DiCola race to gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 in Class 3A, and the Central Bucks West boys punctuated the meet with a gold medal in the 4×400 relay.
Chavez threw 161 feet, 3 inches to win the 2A javelin on Friday and help kick-start Dock’s title drive.
“I felt good coming in. I worked hard all week, prepared for it. I knew all I had to do was just do my job. And let things fall where they may,” he said.
Chavez was a medalist in the sprints last year when the Pioneers won Class 2A.
But at the beginning of the spring, a new opportunity emerged.
“He was an injured sprinter. And I threw him into the throws and said, ‘Jonah, listen. I think you can score points for us,'” said coach Tim Eger, who has guided Dock through its decade of dominance. “He has a live arm and he’s a hard worker. And the javelin just really started to click for him. He’s probably our number-one or number-two discus thrower. And our number-one shot putter. He scored big points for us today. He had a monster weekend.”
Chavez was also fourth in the shot put (37-7.75) on Saturday, and on Friday, Dock went third, fourth and fifth in the discus, with Sheldon Myers (101-10), David Michel (99-10) and Chavez (97-0) piling up the points.
“These guys worked real hard. We didn’t have a lot of first-place finishes but we knew that the points would add up and we had a senior-heavy squad,” said Eger. “They did really good work for us.
“We pulled in some points in the throws, exceeded in a couple of areas there. We asked a lot from our hurdlers and our sprinters. And they did a really nice job for us. The pole vault helped out a lot.”
Cole Smeland (12-0), Micah Mast (11-6) and Daniel Ringenberg (8-6) went one, two and three in the pole vault for the Pioneers.
Mast surged to the silver medal in the 300 hurdles (42.14) and Dock’s 4×400 relay raced to third (3:39.81). A Chavez-anchored 4×1 earned the silver with a time of 45.35. Aidan Jurin was second in the 800 in 2:10.98.
“The big thing was we showed our depth,” Eger said. “You’re not gonna go out there and win every race. Sometimes you gotta do it as a full-team effort.
“At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t so sure. Because we had a lot of new faces. Most of them were seniors, so I relied on their leadership. I relied on their work ethic. And the guys came through for us.”
Chavez, much like his teammates who were gathered around him on the infield at meet’s end, enjoyed the ride.
“I just kept with it,” he said. “I had great coaches around me. It just turned out the way I wanted it to.”
Said the senior of when he first started throwing: “It was scary the first couple meets. I thought I was gonna kill somebody with the javelin.”
There were ups and downs, but he soon found his form.
“It took progress, days where you felt like you were the worst one there,” Chavez said. “At some point, I knew it was gonna turn around. I had faith that it would at some point.”
Many of the Pioneers now move on to next week’s PIAA Championships in Shippensburg.
“It won’t be the same, because not everybody will be there. But for me, I just gotta keep the same energy, go in focused,” Chavez said. “I know I’m not one of the better ones there but the thing I can do is try, and I’ll try as hard as I can.”
Dock finished with 124 points, topping the 102 by Jenkintown.
The Drakes produced a runner-up finish in 2A, powered by a one-two-three finish in the 3,200. Oliver Michell (9:55.16) led the way, followed by Jesse Patterson (10:17.69) and John Byler (10:37.33). Isaac Mixon was a silver medalist for the Drakes in the 400 in 52.81.
Geordan Gossett won the 110 hurdles for Jenkintown with a time of 16.27.
Coatesville rose to the top spot in Class 3A boys, scoring 53 points. Pennridge (40) and Hatboro-Horsham (38) had outstanding meets, finishing second and third.
West Chester Rustin won 3A girls with 62.5 points, overcoming tremendous efforts by perennial powers Cheltenham (third, 41) and North Penn (fourth, 39). Haverford rose to second with 51 points.
Meanwhile, Delco Christian won the 2A girls title, scoring 190 to finish ahead of Dock (149).
The Pioneer girls had quite a day, with Clara Benner winning gold in the 100 hurdles (16.21) and 300 hurdles (47.16) as well. Ainsley Moyer (discus, 95-6), Tiffany Oponski (triple jump, 33-11.75) and Celeste Derstine (3,200, 12:41.30) all earned silvers for Dock, along with Bobby Jo Dodds in the 300 hurdles (47.71).
The Dock 4×4 was also second, in 4:26.78.
One of the finest races of the day came in the 3A boys 100 dash, where Norristown’s Jaden Brown (10.52) and Pennridge’s Joey Gant (10.67) battled to the finish, with Brown pulling out the win.
Gant went on to win the 200 (21.61) and place second in the 400 (47.69).
DiCola won the 3,200 in 9:24.78 on Saturday and the 1,600 (4:18.59) on Friday for the Hatters to help lead their rise in the team standings.
Souderton Area’s Dekai Averett captured the silver in the 110 hurdles, crossing in 15.04.
In 3A girls, North Penn’s Taylor Forbes won the triple jump title with a leap of 38-1.25, with Methacton’s Coco Dunham in second with a 37-5.5.
Cheltenham’s Donya Baxter was second in the shot put (39-11.75) and Hatboro-Horsham’s Lillian DiCola raced to second in the 3,200 (10:52.21).
Later in the day, Cheltenham’s Eyota Bey won the 400 in 55.68 seconds and raced to second in the 200 in 25.07.
The Panther 4×1 was victorious in 47.83.
Also locally, Mount St. Joe’s Ella Woehlcke earned a silver in the 800 (2:11.44) and the CB West 4×4 finished things off with a silver, in 3:55.17.
For the CB West boys, Carter Fitzgerald won gold in the 800 (1:53.65) and the Buck 4×4 raced to first in 3:17.12, edging rival North Penn (3:18.08).
Also for the Knights, Devin Nugent pulled away to victory in the 300 hurdles, with a time of 37.54. Teammate Jabrie Gaymon was a silver medalist in the triple jump with a leap of 45-8.
The Cheltenham boys made it a Panther sweep of the 4×1’s, crossing first in 42.28.
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