SHIPPENSBURG — Brandon Hile had a decision to make.
Fortunately for him, his coach for the Pennsylvania Big 33 football team, Tyrone’s John Franco, agreed to allow the Selinsgrove senior to miss his morning Big 33 practice at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg so that he could compete in the state track and field championships at Shippensburg university.
“When I won the district championship, I knew that I was going to compete in the state meet,” Hile said Saturday after throwing a personal-best 184 feet to earn a silver medal.
Hile was one of 10 Valley male athletes — bringing home 13 medals — to leave Seth Grove Stadium with medals Saturday, and one of three to earn silver.
Danville junior Rory Lieberman took second in the Class 3A 3,200-meter run, and East Juniata junior Logan Strawser was the runner-up in the 2A 3,200. Strawser also took fourth in the 800.
Shamokin junior Colton Lynch placed fourth in the 3A 400, and East Juniata senior Rowan Smith took fourth in the 2A 110 hurdles and eighth in the 300 hurdles, and Selinsgrove junior Max Maurer took eighth in the 3A discus.
Milton senior Cole Goodwin took sixth in the 2A shot put at 51-1½ with Mount Carmel junior Matt Kelley finishing eighth at 50-41/2.
Millersburg junior Isiah Dyer also placed eighth in the 2A triple jump. Greenwood’s Zane Cassell, a Halifax student, took eighth in the 800 in 1:57.48.
Going into the meet Hile’s personal best throw was 181-6, and he got the 184 on his second throw of the day.
“I wanted to get a state medal, whether it was first or eighth,” Hile said. “It was cool to get second. It was a surprise, a good surprise.”
Hile played baseball for the Seals until joining the track team for his senior year.
“I was losing my love for baseball, and I always thought I’d like to try track,” Hile said of his decision to switch sports
Monday, Hile will compete in his second sport in three days, when he represents the state in the football classic.
Lieberman’s silver medal came in his first trip to the state meet, though the Ironman has competed at state cross-country.
“Coach (Jon Vella) and I have been working for about six and a half months, and talking about what this means to me,” Lieberman said. “It’s a culmination of my whole season. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”
Lieberman’s ending to his only race certainly was memorable.
The Ironman shot past Hatboro-Horsham’s Brian DiCola with about 400 meters left, and fought him off to the end.
“I felt Brian coming on my shoulder, and he has a great kick. I barely outkicked him, and when I made my move, I made it strong,” Lieberman said. “I initially went into it with a goal of top five, and I knew we would have kickers at the end. I guess I left with the best kick.”.
Lieberman gave credit to Lewisburg’s Jacob Hess for setting the early pace and helping clear the way. Hess — who is heading to Liberty University in the fall, and who Lieberman has chased for the last three cross-country seasons — finished 10th in 9:22.12. Lieberman also used an inside charge to pick off several runners in the middle of the race.
“If someone lets the inside open for me and I’m feeling good, I take it,” Lieberman said.
Strawser said the 2A race was the fastest 3,200 he had been a part of in a long time.
“I thought it would take a 9:15 (to win), but 9:13, (winner Sean Aiken’s time) is crazy,” Strawser said of the run by the Eden Clark Academy runner. “There is still improvement to be made, and hopefully I can challenge the 3,200 (state) record next year.”
Smith, who will take his talents to Susquehanna University, said, he was keying on Southern Columbia’s gold-medal winner Jake Rose, and trying to keep him in his peripheral vision. Rose won both the 110 and 300 hurdles.
“There were one or two (hurdles) that I clipped and stuttered, and it slowed me down a little bit, but other than that I just tried to come out fast and hang with everyone else,” Smith said.
Maurer got his top throw of the day (154-1) on his final attempt.
“I started out not too great at 145, but after that, I didn’t have much, and I was a little frustrated,” he said.
He said he didn’t know if he would make it to the podium, and he was waiting for a big one. Then Maurer hit the throw of 154-1 (3 feet shy of his best), which got him the medal.
“I’m really excited for next year,” he said.
Dyer was the lone Millersburg athlete to make it to states after a runner-up finish in District 3. He finished eighth with a jump of 43-7½, short of his personal best of 43-10½.
“My goal this year was to get a medal,” Dyer said. “This was also my first year of track, so the nerves were on.”
Dyer said people were urging him to join the track team so he finally did, thinking it would be a good way to get in shape for soccer season.
“But I like this so much now I think I might want to pursue it in college,” Dyer said. “Hopefully I can win district and go higher in the state next year.”
Lynch added another personal best to the late-season surge that has him running with some of the best in the state.
He said it was the fastest race he’s even been in.
“I’m happy to see that I compare to the fastest athletes in the state in the 400-meter dash,” Lynch said.
He entered Saturday’s final hoping to break 47 seconds, but was pleased despite finishing the race in 48.10.
“Just a little bit more training and I’m there. I could have done a lot better, but I’m happy with fourth place,” Lynch said. “I put the work in; my coaches pushed me through it; we just went out there every day pushing my body to its limit.
“I know where I have to be by next year, and I know what I have to do, keep hammering down on the work all summer and winter.’’
Goodwin, along with Smith, is headed to Susquehanna to participate in track and field, and will also have a medal to display
He got the medal-winning throw (51-1 1/2) on his final attempt in the preliminaries to get him into the finals, but never got anything better.
“I tried my hardest, but my technique was just not on today,’’ Goodwin said. “Mental preparation is key, and I think I mentally prepared, but I don’t think enough. After my warm-ups I kind of felt down, and I think that affected me as well.”
Kelley said he was happy with his performance
“Last year I got on the podium with a 48-7,” Kelley said after taking eighth with a 50-4 1/2. “I’m definitely going to prepare for next year, switch some things up and keep going. I can’t stop.”
Although Kelley said he will concentrate on football, he said he will get some throws in two or three times a week.
Kelley got some extra motivation when he got mixed up on his seed. He thought he was 10th, but learned he was 12th, meaning he had to pick up an extra two spots to get to the podium.
“I got nervous, but after my first power throw in warmups, I just knew (I was going to medal),” Kelley said.
Others who competed Saturday but did not medal: Milton’s Ryan Bickhart, 14th in 2A 3,200 (9:49.15); Greenwood in the 2A 4×800 (12th, 8:41.19); Lewisburg 4×800 (Jonathan Hess, Bryce Ryder, Micah Zook, Kieran Murray), 24th (8:31.71); Lewisburg’s Thomas Hess, 800, 14th (1:55.55); Danville’s Bronson Krainak, 15th in 2A javelin (167-0); and Shikellamy’s John Peifer, 14th in the 3A high jump (6-0).