You wouldn’t know this was Ryan Sickenberger’s first — and final — year doing the long jump.
It certainly didn’t appear that way on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Latrobe.
Not only did the Greater Latrobe senior win the long jump in Saturday’s Westmoreland County Coaches Association (WCCA) Track and Field Championships, he did so by one foot, four and a half inches. And his leap of 20-6.5, one of four firsts — two individual and a pair of relays — for Sickenberger, was less than a foot and a half from the school record (22-0) that has stood since 1931 (Miller Seaton).
“That’s pretty exciting,” Sickenberger expressed. “It was nice to get that one long jump in that ended up winning it.
“It’s definitely new for me. I wanted to give it a try since this is my last year. It’s working out pretty well.”
As he did in the Greater Latrobe/Hempfield Area Invitational two weeks earlier, Sickenberger also finished first in the 100 with a time of :11.32. And he anchored the Wildcats’ winning 400 relay (:45.17) and 1600 relay (3:33.14) after taking the baton in second place — by anywhere from about five to seven meters — in both events.
“That can be pretty nerve-wracking, trying to make up time or stay in the lead,” Sickenberger said of running the final leg of a relay. “But they’re both great races and I enjoy running them.
“We weren’t behind by a lot. That made it a little easier.
“But I was feeling good and pretty energized. It was an overall great day,” he concluded.
“This may be his first year doing the long jump, but he’s just an all-around athlete,” is how Greater Latrobe head coach Andy Wnek describes Sickenberger, who was the combined track and field highest-point award-winner with 25
“And he just kicked it in running anchor on those two relays. If it’s close, he’s going to pass any other kid coming down the stretch.”
And Sickenberger wasn’t the only one who turned in a big performance in leading Greater Latrobe to second place in the team standings with 84 points, which was behind Hempfield Area’s 114 points. Brennan Campbell, a junior, pulled off a double-double — invitational and WCCA meet — by capturing the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles with respective times of :15.56 and :42.06, and running the first leg of that 1600 relay.
“That’s pretty awesome,” Campbell remarked, referring to winning both hurdles’ events in two big meets. “It was a definite improvement in all of my times, so it was nice to do it again.
“You’re always trying to place as high as you can. You’re always happy when you do that and can finish first.”
Together, Sickenberger and Campbell accounted for 47.5 of the Wildcats’ 84 points. Campbell also took the track highest-point award with 22.5.
“He’s just so smooth,” Wnek said of Campbell. “It seems like he’s getting more and more confident.
“And, obviously, those others on the two relays held up their ends. They were very good, as well.”
Joining Sickenberger and Campbell on the 1600 relay were Nick Rauco and Augie Mucci. Sickenberger and Rauco also were members of the 400 relay along with Nathan Stemmerich and Ray Henderson.
There was one other winner from the area. Ligoner Valley junior Miles Higgins claimed the javelin with a throw of 180-4.
In addition, Greater Latrobe posted two individual runner-up finishes. They were Daylan Yeager with a personal-best 12-0 in the pole vault, and James Hill in the 800 at 2:06.52.
In all, the Wildcats had place-finishers in 11 events. The others were Rauco, fourth in the 400 (:53.45); Mucci, fifth in the triple jump (39-8.5), and Luke Robinson, Joe Hill, David An and James Hill, fifth in the 3200 relay with a 8:48.44.
“Everyone really played a big part today. A lot of guys were putting in a big effort and placing in their events,” Campbell commented.
“The boys just had a really good day,” Wnek added. “One of the biggest things is, we showed improvement in times and distances.
“Hopefully we can get our times down a little bit more before the WPIAL meet. That’s our focus right now.”
As for Ligonier Valley’s Higgins, he is a repeat winner after taking first two seasons ago as a freshman with last year’s county meet having been canceled because of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. His toss on Saturday was also a personal best.
“I’m super pumped about it. I’ve been trying to get up to that level all year,” Higgins pointed out.
“I’m really happy. It was a good day.”
“He’s been progressing every meet,” indicated Ligonier Valley boys’ coach Josh Suszek. “He had a real breakthrough in a section dual meet earlier this year where he made a huge jump.
“He’s a terrific athlete. He was really just a one-event guy, but this year, we’re using him in the long jump and triple jump, as well.”
There’s one other thing Higgins enjoyed about Saturday. He did it against throwers from larger schools, some with Class 3A enrollment.
“That means a lot,” Higgins responded. “I love these kind of meets because it brings out the best and the competitor in me.”
As a team, the Rams totaled 13.5 points, which was fourth in Class 2A behind Greensburg Central Catholic, Southmoreland and Burrell. Their other place-finishers included Isaac Piper, fifth in the 110 hurdles (:16.84), and Wesley Smykal, tied for fifth in the high jump with a 5-5.
In girls, Greater Latrobe finished fifth overall — fourth in Class 3A — with 42 points. Lauren Davis led the Wildcats by placing in four events.
Davis was fourth in the 400 (1:02.88) and fifth in the 200 (:27.98), anchored the third-place 1600 relay (4:22.15) that included Jenna Mucci, Regan Reilly and Ella Bulava, and was on the third-place 400 relay (:51.91) along with Courtney Schmauch, Mucci and Allyson Horner. Reilly and Bulava also came in third in the 1600 (5:33.10) and 800 (2:25.21), respectively, and joined Lexie Planinsek and Clara Herr on the fourth-place 3200 relay with a 10:08.93.
The Greater Latrobe girls had two more individual place-finishes. They were Herr, fourth in the 1600 (5:34.19), and Anna Rafferty, fourth in the shot at 36-0 3/4.
All of Ligonier Valley’s points came from Tatum Hoffman. She was tied for third in the high jump with a 5-1.
“The team did a good job competing against the triple-A schools,” Ligonier Valley girls’ coach Al Fiorina offered. “It was a good warmup for the upcoming WPIAL semifinals.”
Derry Area, meanwhile, was unable to take part in the county meet. The school was paused because of COVID-19 cases.
However, Derry Area and Ligonier Valley are entered in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class 2A Track Team Championships, set for 3 p.m. Tuesday, with Greensburg Central Catholic as the host for both. Waynesburg Central is also in both while East Allegheny is included in boys, and Derry Area and Quaker Valley in girls.
“We’re only going to have one day of practice before that, so our training has been done. It’s going to be all about going out and being better that day,” Suszek simplified.
“We know that it will be a tough meet, but the girls are ready to push themselves to do the best they can,” Fiorina stated. “This year, the girls’ team has only 25 members, so we don’t have the depth we should, but we have heart and determination. Let’s hope that will help.”
Only one of the teams at each of the four semifinal sites advances to the finals. The championship meet is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at Peters Township High School.
TRACK AND FIELD MEET
TEAM STANDINGS: Hempfield Area (HA) 114, Greater Latrobe (GL) 84, Norwin (N) 61, Greensburg Salem (GS) 55, Penn-Trafford (P-T) 47, Greensburg Central Catholic (GCC) 45, Franklin Regional (FR) 44.5, Southmoreland (S) 37, Kiski Area (KA) 26, Burrell (B) 18, Ligonier Valley (LV) 13.5, Yough (Y) 10, Belle Vernon Area (BVA) 3.
3200 relay – Hempfield Area (Mastroberardino, Prola, Tuttoilmondo, DeMatt), Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Norwin, Greater Latrobe (Robinson, Jo Hill, An, Ja Hill), Belle Vernon Area; 8:28.12
110 hurdles –Campbell (GL), Sacco (N), VanArsdale (S), Smith (HA), Piper (LV), Kissell (HA); :15.56
100 – Sickenberger (GL), Demeri (P-T), Hummert (P-T), Dudik (N), Turner (FR), Blahovec (GCC); :11.32
1600 – Gatons (GS), Johnson (GS), Szekely (GCC), Miller (HA), Henderson (BVA), Giordano (KA); 4:23.26
400 relay – Greater Latrobe (Stemmerich, Rauco, Henderson, Sickenberger), Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Burrell, Kiski Area, Hempfield Area; :45.17
400 – Blahovec (GCC), Prola (HA), Petrazzi (FR), Rauco (GL), Mastroberardino (HA), Guido (KA); :51.61
300 hurdles – Campbell (GL), Smith (HA), Brewer (GCC), VanArsdale (S), Mack (GCC), Klingensmith (KA); :42.06
800 – Whipkey (P-T), Hill (GL), Haines (FR), Tuttoilmondo (HA), Dodaro (N), Sebek (GCC); 2:03.94
200 – Blahovec (GCC), Dudik (N), Guerrini (B), Copper (FR), Bloom (S), Barca (N); :23.50
3200 – Tressler (GS), Driscoll (P-T), Kerr (FR), Curry (GS), George (KA), Breauchy (N); 10:20.64
1600 relay – Greater Latrobe (Campbell, Rauco, Mucci, Sickenberger), Burrell, Hempfield Area, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Kiski Area; 3:33.14
Shot – Norris (HA), Hribal (S), Hepler (KA), Murray (HA), McChesney (GS), D Dlugos (GCC); 62-4
Discus – Norris (HA), Murray (HA), Hepler (KA), Gunther (Y), Schelessinger (P-T), Sarver (GS); 178-0
Javelin – Higgins (LV), Schmook (N), Bakewell (Y), Hribal (S), Scherle (N), Schelessinger (P-T); 180-4
High jump – Parker (HA), Ser (HA), Downs (FR), Kline (N), Smykal (LV), Waller (GS); 5-11
Pole vault – Barnhart (HA), Yeager (GL), Davies (HA), Miklos (P-T), Brewer (GCC), Heinickel (GS), Marsiglio (FR); 14-3
Long jump – Sickenberger (GL), Waller (GS), N Dlugos (GCC), Bloom (S), Downs (FR), Giansante (N); 20-6 1/2
Triple jump – Waller (GS), Trout (S), Giansante (N), McShea (FR), Mucci (GL), VanArsdale (S); 42-0 1/4
TRACK AND FIELD MEET
TEAM STANDINGS: Hempfield Area (HA) 149, Norwin (N) 126, Franklin Regional (FR) 58, Greensburg Central Catholic (GCC) 46, Greater Latrobe (GL) 42, Kiski Area (KA) 37, Southmoreland (S) 28, Burrell (B) 24, Penn-Trafford (P-T) 16, Belle Vernon Area (BVA) 15, Greensburg Salem (GS) 8, Ligonier Valley (LV) 5, Mount Pleasant Area (MPA) 4.
3200 relay – Kiski Area (Sullivan, Fairman, Schrag, Miller), Hempfield Area, Norwin, Greater Latrobe (R Reilly, Planinsek, Herr, Bulava), Franklin Regional, Belle Vernon Area; 9:52.16
100 hurdles – Shuster (N), Hartman (FR), Hays (HA), Robertson (N), Dorsch (FR), Marquez (GCC); :16.40
100 – Turcovski (N), Rusiewicz (B), Todero (FR), Slack (S), Zambruno (GCC), DeCaro (HA); :12.87
1600 – Brewer (GCC), DiCriscio (GS), R Reilly (GL), Herr (GL), Jiancristoforo (N), Weimer (HA); 5:16.29
400 relay – Norwin (Kauffman, Robertson-Dutrieuill, Robertson, Turcovski), Hempfield Area, Gr. Latrobe (Schmauch, Mucci, Davis, Horner), Burrell, Belle Vernon Area, Kiski Area; :51.24
400 – Zukina (N), Schall (P-T), Semow (HA), Davis (GL), Landis (GCC), Ciuffletti (B); :58.76
300 hurdles –Robertson (N), Shuster (N), Dorsch (FR), Mathabel (B), Mauro (HA), Smola (B); :48.35
800 – Brewer (GCC), Blahovec (HA), Bulava (GL), Fairman (KA), Schrag (KA), DeFazio (N); 2:19.70
200 – Turcovski (N), Zukina (N), DeLattre (HA), Rusiewicz (B), Davis (GL), Semow (HA); :26.78
3200 – Miller (KA), Bonson (P-T), Weimer (HA), Kreis (BVA), Plazio (KA), Fedor (N); 11:22.64
1600 relay – Norwin (Walton, Robertson, Zukina, DeFazio), Hempfield Area, Greater Latrobe (Mucci, R Reilly, Bulava, Davis), Kiski Area, Greensburg Central Catholic (Zambruno, Landis, Blahovec, Stickle), Burrell; 4:14.37
Shot – Gera (HA), Tapper (HA), Jacobs (S), Rafferty (GL), Dlugos (GCC), Alexander (N); 43-8 1/2
Discus – Gera (HA), Tapper (HA), Dlugos (GCC), Hepler (KA), Zelmore (MPA), Rogers (MPA); 150-6
Javelin –Lander (HA), Spadaro (S), Ross (HA), Barry (N), Shaham (BVA), Stone (MPA); 106-6
High jump – Laukus (N), Torri, Scaramucci (BVA), Hoffman (LV), Kindelberger (FR), Brewer (GCC); 5-3
Pole vault – Brewer (GCC), Tapper (HA), Iwig (HA), Zeiler (N), Shaw (N), Hornack (B); 11-8
Long jump – R Todero (FR), S Todero (FR), Cernuto (S), Brozeski (N), Gray (HA), Anderson (BVA); 16-7
Triple jump— DeCaro (HA), R Todero (FR), S Todero (FR), Cernuto (S), DeLattre (HA), Brozeski (N); 36-4 1/2