SCRANTON – One look at Jack Zardecki and David Haines trading the lead over the final 50 meters of a spirited 3200-meter race made it clear they each wanted to beat the other.
More important, in a prerace conversation and a postrace assessment of their battle, was the rival distance runners wanted to push each other all the way to Shippensburg University for the May 26-27 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.
North Pocono’s Haines edged an exhausted Zardecki, the junior who has been the leader of two state cross country championships by Dallas, at the wire, but both came away from the District 2 Class 3A Championships with the major goal accomplished.
Only the district champion is guaranteed a spot at the state meet. When they talked before the race, Zardecki and Haines hoped to be able to push each other to come in under the state qualifying standard of 9:31.71.
They did so with room to spare.
Never more than two-tenths of a second apart at any split for the eighth laps, they finished with Haines taking first in 9:22.664 and Zardecki just 0.228 seconds behind.
“We talked before the race,” Zardecki said. “We both wanted to run fast times.
“ … It worked out really well. He dragged me through. He’s totally a great guy. I’m thankful for him being at this race. I probably wouldn’t have run the time I did without him here.”
Zardecki’s state championship cross country teammates produced the only Dallas gold medal by winning the 3200-meter relay when Jason Culp fought off a surge by Wallenpaupack’s Tyler Wirth to win in five-hundredths of a second.
Stephen Postupak, Adam Borton and Josh Wyandt created a lead through 1200 meters and Culp broke two minutes under pressure in the anchor leg.
Christian Roberts matched Zardecki’s accomplishment of qualifying for the state meet as a second-place finisher. He ran the 400 meters in 49.85 seconds.
The distance runners and Roberts produced the bulk of the points as Dallas placed 10th out of 19 teams with 33 points.
Culp was also sixth in the 800. Culp, Roberts and Borton joined Corey Osborne for seventh place in the 1600 relay.
Mitchell Rome was seventh in the 3200.
The Dallas girls placed eighth as a team with 40 1/6 points.
Abby Zolner led the Mountaineers with a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles and sixth-place finishes in both the 100 hurdles and as anchor of the 1600 relay.
Freshman Madison Baloga provided the other silver medal in the 3200.
Samantha Mazula was fifth in the 100, eighth in the 200 and ran a leg on the sixth-place 400 relay.
Megan Borton was fifth in the 1600.
Missy Leonard led off the fourth-place 3200 relay and was eighth in the 800.
Grace Jarden, Riley Oremus and Kaylee Yagloski also ran on the 3200 relay.
Yagloski was part of the 1600 relay that also included Emily Fleming and Emily Farrell.
Annalise Cheshire, Hollie Holthaus and Gabrielle Vanhorn completed the 400 relay.
Dallas scored the 40 points on the track and the 1/6 point in the field where Holthaus was part of a six-way tie for eighth in the pole vault.
Tunkhannock finished 12th in the boys standings and 18th in girls.
Mitchell Fowler won the pole vault for the Tigers, clearing 12 feet.
Rebecca Avery and Faith Turner were fifth and sixth in the shot put to account for the seven points by the Lady Tigers.
The Scranton boys and Abington Heights girls ran away with the team titles by a combined 98 points.