So, just to recap, my son Peter won the PIAA State Championship for Javelin in the AAA division back in May. Generally, track athletes peak at states, making it the highlight of their competitive year, if not their entire career.
Occasionally, at the higher levels, athletes will choose to go on to compete at large national and regional meets if they are able to submit verifiable qualifying marks. Though many of the athletes were tapering down from their intense regular season training, my son asked if he could compete at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor competition that was to be held in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania facilities.
There were a couple of issues, however. We had scheduled, and paid for, a vacation rental at the beach which created both a scheduling conflict as well as a logistical one. Philadelphia was about six and a half hours north of where we were staying. Also, my son had nowhere to train. So, we adapted. We found out there was a nearby park where joggers, cyclists, and dog walkers didn’t start showing up until around 6 a.m. So, we got there at 5 a.m., and my son made do with limited space to drill and do light throwing.
We ended up leaving vacation a day early and driving the six and half hours up to Philly. I quickly remembered why I am not a city guy and that few places compared to the beauty of North Central PA in the summer. Traffic was crazy going into the city on a Saturday night; then, we encountered people on dirt bikes and ATVs in Center City doing wheelies and driving with their lights off through the middle of traffic. I actually had no clue this was a thing and had to look it up. Apparently, it’s been a problem for some time. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep before the competition, as sirens and other city noises kept us up.
We ended up getting down to breakfast early and headed over to sign into the meet and pick up his information packet. If you recall from my previous article, this was a track meet of approximately 7,500-8,000 athletes held over three days. Though we got to the sports facilities early, it was already getting busy. After check-ins, we headed down to the throwing area, about a twenty-minute walk, to have Peter’s javelins inspected.
A few days earlier, my son had looked up the entry field and noticed quite a few notable javelin throwers. Some of the best throwers in the country and pretty much the same lineup that was at his state competition, with Huber, Krainak, and Arnold from District 4 and Flood from District 1. There was one notable addition, however. There was an interesting entry by an athlete from Cuba, Leikel Cabrera, that was allowed to enter the meet as he had joined the Miami Elite Track Club a week earlier. He was actually seeded first with a listed entry throw over 220 feet. When we arrived at the field, he stood out immediately at 6’4” in height and carved from granite. I could tell this was going to turn into a David vs. Goliath story.
Track and Field is an interesting sport, at least in our experience, as competitors are very amicable. Often, my son stays in contact with his top competitors, and they will even share competition information and equipment if necessary. It was no different with Cabrera as the athletes and crowd cheered on the newcomer. Because he was seeded first, he was the very last thrower of four flights that totaled 55 athletes. Cabrera was able to open with a very respectable throw of around 195’. Well past Peter’s opener of 173’7”.
I have to admit that I was worried our hectic travel schedule had interfered with Peter’s training.
The pressure, however, seemed to light a fire in him. By his third throw, Peter was in the lead with a throw of 206’7”, and it was definitely a battle between him and Cabrera alone. Cabrera countered with his best throw of the day, 200’11”, but the pressure seemed to be getting to him, and his next two throws were well off their mark. Peter sealed the deal on his 4th throw with a 208’8”. Not a PR but still very solid and good enough for the win.
District 4 was also well represented as Bronson Krainak (Danville) placed 9th with a throw of 184’6”, Tyler Arnold (Southern Columbia) placed 15th with a throw of 176’5.” Lincoln Huber (Central Columbia) placed 21st with a throw of 173’1”, respectively. Keep in mind that these are high school boys and that any of these throws would win most college meets.
After the competition, the athletes were directed to the podium area, where the atmosphere was very festive and party-like. They received their medals, were photographed, and spent time congratulating each other. As the winner, Peter was also interviewed by several news outlets, and it seems he has a knack for being on camera. [Take note potential sponsors.]
As I mentioned, there were two other high-level meets taking place that weekend; the Adidas Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, NC, and Nike Nationals in Eugene, OR. Kyle Kaufeld was the winner of the Adidas meet with a throw of 182’1”, and Brayden Plat won Nike with a whopping throw of 228’1”. Currently, Peter is still ranked 4th in the country with his PIAA-AAA winning throw of 214’3”.
Moving forward, Peter can choose to either take the rest of the summer off of competition and focus on his off-season strength and conditioning program with his brother, Nick, or he can hit one or two more competitions.
The main two left at this time of the year are the USATF under 20 (U20) National Championships in Eugene, OR, which is a world qualifier, and the NSAF 9th Annual Javfest held in East Stroudsburg, PA.
Whether Peter decides to compete again this summer or not, he is looking forward to being part of the Lock Haven University Track and Field Team in the fall and a very bright future.