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‘It Was Legendary’Free Access

Justin Rogers with his gold medal Photo: PIAA District 3.

Justin Rogers with his gold medal Photo: PIAA District 3.

A crowd of several thousand at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium watched intently as the announcer called their attention to Hershey senior Justin Rogers, who was preparing to go for the PIAA championship meet pole vault record and a state mark as well.

The existing PIAA meet record was 16-6, and he had already set a state record of 17-2 in an earlier dual meet. Attacking a meet record eight inches lower would be akin to bringing a cannon to a fight with flintlock dueling pistols.

On his first jump, Rogers cleared 16-7, thus setting a new record for the meet. Now he took aim at 17-3, which would be a new Pennsylvania record and one of the top vaults in the country if he could pull it off.

Hershey track coach Kevin Stover set the scene.

“It was packed. It was a huge crowd. The announcer built up the event as he prepared to jump, and everybody was focused on him. It couldn’t have gotten any better,” Stover recalled.

Rogers’ first two tries for 17-3 failed.

Then, it was try number three.

He scored.

“There had been a lot of anticipation in the crowd about what was going on. As soon as he made it, the whole stadium erupted. It was legendary. When (Rogers) went to 17-3, it was a legendary jump,” Stover declared.

In January, Rogers had set the state indoor record with a vault of 17-¼.

The 17-3 mark is “third or fourth in the country” for high school athletes, Stover surmised.

Soleil Morrison got a medal of her own when she went 12.11 in the 100-meter dash, taking third. She also medaled in the 400 with an eighth-place finish. They were her first two PIAA state medals, but they likely won’t be the last for the junior.

Senior Brooke Preputnick also medaled with an eighthplace finish in the 3,200 run.

“Brooke ran a perfect race in the 3,200 with a time of 10:48.50 and earned her first PIAA medal,” Stover related.

He also noted, interestingly, that the winner in the 400 and 3,200 events set PIAA state records. And of course, Rogers did.

He looked back: “This capped off a really fine season. Each week, the kids got stronger and more competitive.”

Stover added, “To have 12 kids at the states was a really good thing. I’m very pleased with the season.”

Lower Dauphin

Describing his team’s performance this past weekend, Lower Dauphin coach Mike Masorti said, “Although LD did not produce a medal winner at the state championships, every entrant for the team bettered their season’s best efforts.”

Senior Jamie Swartz didn’t make it to the finals in the 400 dash. However, she still smashed the school record of 58.21 she set at districts the week before. Swartz posted a time of 57.69 in placing 12th in the preliminary heat. She leaves LD with a hold on the school record in the 100, 200 and 400 dash events.

Senior Saige Wilt had her season’s best triple jump, hitting 36:11.75 and finishing 13th.

Drake Risser was 10th in the pole vault.

The girls’ 4×400 relay team, consisting of Lauren Gula, Heidi Bretz, Justyce Hollenbach and anchor Swartz, ran their season’s best 4:05.11, finishing 16th in preliminaries.

Some of his seniors have also landed college spots.

“Saige will be taking her jumping prowess to Ursinus. Justyce will be continuing her soccer career at La Salle and Jamie Swartz will be playing soccer at James Madison next year with the possibility of looking at also continuing her track career there as well.” Masorti said.


Danny Byrd had high hopes for his boys’ track team as it journeyed to Shippensburg University for the May 27- 28 PIAA track championship meet. His kids had excelled at the District 3 meet of the week before, setting new school records and landing high seedings at states. The 4×100 team was seeded fourth at states and the 4×400 squad, seventh.

A number of boys’ and girls’ team members had also medaled in individual events, and they all would have a chance to repeat that accomplishment against the best in the state.

But such was not to be.

Very bad luck and very good competition combined to hold the Cougars way down. They would medal in only two events.

Mason Bucks was eighth in the pole vault.

“He performed really well, particularly for a sophomore,” Byrd said.

The second medal went to the boys’ 4×400-meter relay team which was sixth. It broke its own school record twice in the process.

The quartet ran the course in a record 3:20.78 in the preliminaries and then did it in 3:20.03 in the finals.

The 4×100 squad of which so much was expected, didn’t fare well.

“In the preliminaries, they missed a hand-off between the second and third runner, and that was pretty much it,” Byrd related.

None of the other boys medaled in the individual events.

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