DeShae Lee went into Thursday's District 6 Class AAA Track and Field Championships looking for redemption, while Dylan Mountain went into his last race just looking to survive.
They both accomplished their missions. And Altoona Area High School fans are glad they did.
Lee rebounded from a non-track injury to get Altoona a surprise victory in the high jump. That allowed Mountain to rebound from a disappointing showing in the mile run to take first in the 3200 meters and boost the Mountain Lions to their 17th straight boys district championship in nail-biting fashion at Mansion Park.
Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Altoona’s Druex Stamford (left) edges teammate Rafeeq Barnes in the 100-meter dash. For more photos go to www.altoonamirror.com and click on the CU section.
Altoona scored 227.5 points, with State College hot on its heels at 214.5. In addition to Lee and Mountain, Ryan Steinbugl and Dreux Stamford captured individual gold in the pole vault and 100 dash, respectively. Two Altoona relay teams also finished first, the 3200 and 400.
In addition, two-mile runner Korey Replogle, 300 hurdler Uthman Hill and triple jumper Kevin Johnson all earned the right to represent the Lions at next weekend's state meet at Shippensburg University by achieving PIAA qualifying standards.
For a time, it looked like Mountain might only be going to Shippensburg as part of the distance relay. Seeded one-two in the mile, the Mountain Lions were stunned in the 1600 when Replogle and Mountain had to settle for fourth and third. State College sophomore Will Cather and Mifflin County junior Jon Colwell pulled away from them with a strong final lap that qualified them both for states, and neither Altoona runner looked like he had much left in the tank for the two-mile run, while State College's John Crowe was fresh.
"To be honest, I didn't know if I had anything left after the mile,'' Mountain said. "We came through in 3:18, and I knew I would have to run a fast time and try my hardest to win, so I figured it would be a better strategic plan to chill on that last lap. I ran like 1:12.
The move paid off. After running with Replogle, Crowe and Mifflin County's Addison Monroe, Mountain and the State College runner pulled away. Mountain, however, ran a powerful final lap to win the race in a time of 9 minutes, 28.33 seconds.
"I knew I would be able to beat him after the race started and I felt comfortable with the pace,'' Mountain said. "I knew I would be able to drop the last couple of laps. I think I closed at 1:01, 1:02. That sets me up perfectly for the state meet next week. If I can do that, I can possibly win.''
On top of that, Replogle found life in the last 400 meters, too, and finished second at 9:29.84 to qualify for states, too.
"It's huge. It'd definitely huge. I don't know what I'd do without him,'' Mountain said. "After that mile, he said he was trying hard. I was little bit worried about what was going to happen in the two mile. Whenever one of us sees the other one going, it definitely boosts our confidence.''
Mountain, though, hadn't shared his plan to cruise in the 1600 with Lion coach Mike Adams until after that race.
"He found out after it happened,'' Mountain said. "He was a little bit heated.''
Adams was heated with Lee, too. Lee twisted his ankle playing pick-up basketball a few weeks ago, keeping him on the shelf throughout the stretch run of the season.
"Coach Adams] wasn't too happy, so I felt like I owed it to my team and to him,'' Lee said. "I just felt like I needed to win.''
Hurt late last season, too, Lee jumped a personal-best 6 feet, 5 inches on his first attempt - his previous best of the season was 6-4 - at the most opportune time to beat top seed Jake Shepherd of Central Mountain in the high jump. Shepherd also achieved 6-5, but Lee had fewer misses.
"I really wanted to go to states. I messed up in districts last year. I injured myself last year,'' Lee said. " I just wanted to come out and give it my all. I just really wanted to get to states.''
Lee had a definite goal in mind.
"In practice, I had gotten 6-6 before, so I knew I could get it, so I was happy, but I was looking more for 6-7, because [Tyler] Fedeli has the junior record of 6-8, and I really want to go after that,'' Lee said. "That's my goal at states.''
Steinbugl repeated as the pole vault champ with a height of 15-4. He came in as the heavy favorite, and no one else cleared higher than 14-3.
"I'm happier this time, because it's my senior year. I wanted to do good and make it to states,'' Steinbugl said.
Steinbugl started vaulting at 13-9. Only four other competitors made that height.
"I'm satisfied with my height,'' Steinbugl said."I was just going out there to practice for states once I [won] it. I really didn't care what height I finished at.''
Stamford beat teammate Rafeeq Barnes by the slimmest of margins: one-hundredth of a second. Stamford's time was 11.19 seconds. Barnes had been a state qualifier himself in the past but has been battling injuries.
"I just love competing against Rafeeq. It's the best. He's the best competitor I've ever run against,'' Stamford said. "It's been tough [with him injured], because we always compete against each other. Having Rafeeq back is great.''
As he came off the track, one of Stamford's teammates yelled over to him that Barnes had him early. Stamford answered back, "Had. Had.'' Stamford said the talk goes back and forth between he and Barnes themselves, too.
"It's friendly smack talk. All the time,'' Stamford said with a smile. "It's like, 'I'm getting you this time. No, I'm putting you out of your misery.'''
In an effort to get points, Adams took Steinbugl and Barnes out of the four-by-100 -relay and inserted Danny Moyer and Hill. The Mountain Lions still finished first with a time of 43.38, although Mifflin County was with them until the end and succumbed by just two-hundredths of a second to qualify for states, as well.
"We've got a really good sprinting core. We have a lot of really good runners. A lot of teams don't have the depth we have,'' Moyer said. "Having a lot of guys who can run in the [11-second range] always helps.''
Altoona was pushed to the very end by State College in the four-by-800. Replogle snatched the lead for the first time at the very end of the third leg, and Mountain maintained it until Paul Wright caught him with about 250 meters to go. Mountain regained the top spot around the final turn, crossing in 7:55.20 just 32-hundredths of a second before State.
Both teams earned a trip to states. Pat Reade and Brad Foust ran the opening two legs for Altoona.
Hill punched his ticket for states by meeting the qualifying time of 39.80 in finishing second to State College's Dan Collins in the 300 hurdles. Hill ran 39.77. Collins ran 39.29.
Johnson, meanwhile, jumped 45-4.25 to qualify in the triple jump despite his second place finish. Mifflin County's Harry Lowber won the event with a 45-11.5.
Meet notes: Collins was a double winner, also taking first in the 110 hurdles. Other boys winners were State College's Ben Gordeuk (shot put, discus) and Alex Shisler (200, 400) and its 1600 relay of Collins, Shisler, Wright and Cather, and Mifflin County's Lowber (triple jump), Zach Moon (800), Jake Shepherd (long jump) and Cole Welham (javelin). Lowber also met the qualifying distance in the long jump. Steinbugl and Hollidaysburg's Bradley Baronner were the recipients of the Cindy Gutzweiler Outstanding Performer Awards presented by the Blair County Chapter of Track and Field officials.
KEY, TEAM SCORING: 1, A-Altoona, 227.5; 2, SC-State College, 214.5; 3, MC-Mifflin County, 114; 4, CM-Central Mountain, 41; 5 (tie), B-Bellefonte and H-Hollidaysburg, 38; 7, J-Johnstown, 21.
100 dash: 1, Stamford, A, 11.19; 2, Barnes, A, 11.20; 3, Kellar, SC, 11.50; 4, Yale, MC, 11.61; 5, Bonness, SC, 11.66; 6, McGinnis, MC, 11.69; 7, Conway, H, 11.69; 8, Simon, J, 11.78.
200 dash: 1, Shisler, SC, 22.31; 2, Stamford, A, 22.82; 3, Barnes, A, 22.90; 4, Bonness, SC, 23.27; 5, K. Steinbugl, 23.41; 6, Kellar, SC, 23.47; 7, Gipson, B, 23.54; 8, Simon, J, 23.57.
400 dash: 1, Shisler, SC, 48.49; n 2, Gipson, B, 49.69; 3, Barnes, A, 51.17; 4, Ventura, H, 51.53; 5, R. Steinbugl, A, 51.56; 6, K. Steinbugl, A, 51.94; 7, Post, SC, 52.01; 8, Golembeski, SC, 53.38.
800 run: 1, Moon, MC, 1:56.61; 2, Wright, SC, 1:59.14; 3, Cather, SC, 2:00.39; 4, Foust, A, 2:00.80; 5, Juster, SC, 2:01.59; 6, Reade, A, 2:02.87; 7, Baronner, H, 2:04.68; 8, Parker, MC, 2:05.42.
1600 run: 1, Cather, SC, 4:23.95; n 2, Colwell, MC, 4:23.98; 3, Mountain, A, 4:30.44; 4, Replogle, A, 4:30.49; 5, Futrell, A, 4:34.98; 6, Hopple, B, 4:40.83; 7, Fisher, CM, 4:40.94; 8, Kevin Drago, SC, 4:48.31.
3200 run: 1, Mountain, A, 9:28.33; n 2, Replogle, A, 9:29.84; 3, Monroe, MC, 9:34.09; 4, Crowe, SC, 9:35.63; 5, Smith, B, 9:57.17; 6, Adams, SC, 10:13.75; 7, Stroh, A, 10:14.64; 8, Harpster, SC, 10:15.12.
110 hurdles: 1, Collins, SC, 15.07; 2, Baumgardner, MC, 15.40; 3, Johnson, A, 15.44; 4, U. Hill, A, 15.49; 5, Nyman, CM, 16.03; 6, J. Hill, A, 16.04; 7, Banerjee, SC, 16.23; 8, Smith, SC, 16.90.
300 hurdles: 1, Collins, SC, 39.29; n 2, Hill, A, 39.77; 3, Smith, SC, 40.76; 4, Baumgardner, MC, 41.86; 5, Hershey, A, 42.36; 6, Baker, H, 42.83; 7, Graffius, A, 43.12; 8, Trowbridge, B, 44.60.
400 relay: 1, Altoona (Stamford, Healy, Moyer, U. Hill), 43.38; n 2, Mifflin County (Kline, McGinnis, Carrington, Beck), 43.40; 3, Johnstown, 45.98; 4, State College, 46.25; 5, Hollidaysburg, 46.28.
1600 relay: 1, State College (Collins, Cather, Wright, Shisler), 3:26.15; 2, Mifflin County, 3:27.47; 3, Altoona, 3:29.30; 4, Hollidaysburg, 3:41.26; 5, Johnstown, 3:49.29; 6, Central Mountain, 3:52.32; 7, Bellefonte, 3:54.69.
3200 relay: 1, Altoona (Stroh, Reade, Replogle, Mountain), 7:55.20; n 2, State College (Juster, Adams, Cather, Wright), 7:55.52; 3, Bellefonte, 8:40.39; 4, Hollidaysburg, 8:44.93; 5, Central Mountain, 8:45.61; 6, Mifflin County, 9:22.97; Johnstown, 10:08.17.
High jump: 1, Lee, A, 6-5; n 2, Shepherd, MC, 6-5; 3, McCloy, CM, 6-1; 4 (tie), Forziat, SC, and Johnson, A, 5-7; 6, Triplie, J, 5-7; 7, Braxton, J, 5-7; 8, Nodell, SC, 5-7.
Long jump: 1, Shepherd, MC, 22-4.25; n 2, Lowber, MC, 21-10; 3, Randecker, CM, 21-5.75; 4, Wagner, SC, 21-3.75; 5, R. Steinbugl, A, 21-1.5; 6, Williams, SC, 21-10; 7, Johnson, A, 20-7; 8, Gipson, B, 20-3.25.
Triple jump: 1, Lowber, MC, 45-11.5; n 2, Johnson, A, 45-4.25; 3, Wagner, SC, 44-2; 4, King, SC, 42-11; 5, Luciano, A, 42-8.75; 6, Randecker, CM, 42-1.5; 7, Williams, SC, 41-1.75; 8, Menard, H, 39-6.25.
Shot put: 1, Gordeuk, SC, 53-9.5; 2, Posatko, SC, 47-3.5; 3, Barton, H, 47-3.5; 4, Mitchell, A, 45-9.25; 5, Mullin, SC, 45-1.5; 6, Span, A, 42-9; 7, Eisenhuth, J, 41-1; 8, Waltz, H, 39-10.5.
Discus: 1, Gordeuk, SC, 153-5; 2, Posatko, SC, 128-7; 3, Kutz, A, 126-6; 4, Mitchell, A, 125-5; 5, Cryder, CM, 124-1; 6, Querns, B, 122-10; 7, Long, CM, 120-11; 8, Mullin, SC, 117-7.
Javelin: 1, Welham, MC, 171-1; 2, Irwin, SC, 167-8; 3, Klein, CM, 163-11; 4, Luciano, A, 161-10; 5, Weigand, A, 160-6; 6, Moyer, A, 158-6; 7, Long, MC, 154-4; 8, Buckwalter, CM, 149-5.
Pole vault: 1, R. Steinbugl, A, 15-4; n 2, Eicher, B, 14-3; 3, Koeck, A, 13-9; 4, Swisher, SC, 13-9; 5, Caro, H, 13-9; 6, Thompson, SC, 12-3; 7, Smith, A, 12-3; 8, Donahey, MC, 11-9.
n - advanced to state meet by achieving qualifying standard.