With the state championships on the horizon, it is a tradition for Lake-Lehman’s top track and field athletes to get together the Saturday morning after the District 2 championships for a 9 a.m. workout.
There may have been a few reasons for attendance – or at least enthusiasm – to be in question on that day this spring.
The district championships been pushed back to a Thursday this year, leaving Lake-Lehman’s state qualifying girls with a heavy workload in Scranton less than 48 hours earlier. Then, there was also a small matter of Friday being Prom Night. And, the pouring rain on Saturday morning did not help.
“You have these girls, including the prom queen (Jace Garnick), out on the track in the morning after the prom,” Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski said.
They did not merely show up.
“They turned in a fantastic workout,” Sobocinski said.
The group included three seniors, Garnick, Olivia Vasey and Jade Fry, who were preparing for what turned out to be their second straight year on the state medal stand.
Sophomore Abby Paczewski, who made the trip to Shippensburg last year in case injury forced an alteration in the lineup, got her chance this year and anchored what wound up being a sixth-place finish in the Class 2A girls 3200-meter relay at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.
“We’ve been fortunate to keep it together and battle through some injuries,” Sobocinski said. “The past two years we’ve had some injuries coming up on districts and states and things worked out both years.”
Garnick, Vasey and Fry made it through the health challenges that threatened to break up the team to win three district championships and two state medals together in the event. Hailey Kubiski, who graduated last year, was part of the first two district titles and the first state medal.
Sobocinski was pleased to see Paczewski join in that accomplishment. A year ago, when Fry was struggling through a stress fracture in her foot that put running in the end-of-season championship events in jeopardy, Paczewski was on standby to join in, if needed.
“I really wanted to ensure this year that she came home with a medal,” Sobocinski said.
Garnick, Vasey and Fry added to their own medal collections while helping make sure that happened.
When a double-ear infection kept Garnick out of competition midway through this season, she kept up her training to be as strong as possible when she returned. Vasey adjusted training to protect her knee from patella tendonitis as the postseason approached.
Sobocinski took two younger alternates to Shippensburg this season, but the district-championship team stuck together.
When 27 teams took to the track May 25 in Shippensburg to qualify for 12 spots in the next day’s final, Lake-Lehman ran a 9:49.75 to earn the eighth-seed in the final.
With qualifying accomplished, they went faster in their final race together, posting a season-best in the state final for the second straight year with a time of 9:41.27.
Garnick opened with the team’s fastest leg, a 2:21 to put Lake-Lehman among the leaders. Vasey ran her season-best time, Fry kept the Black Knights in contention in fourth place and Paczewski closed with a career-best 2:24, taking back sixth place after slipping to seventh at one point.
Vasey, the school’s valedictorian, plans to run on the Division I level at Pepperdine. Fry is headed back to Shippensburg to continue her academic and athletic careers in a strong NCAA Division II program. Garnick plans to study nutrition at Penn State.
Tunkhannock sophomore Trejon Turner also medaled, placing fourth in the Class 3A boys high jump by clearing 6-7.
Lake-Lehman’s Sarah Salus was 11th in the javelin with a throw of 123-0, missing out on a medal and team points by three places.
Teammate Natasha Mihalko was 20th with a triple jump of 34-8 ¾.
Dallas resident Lukas Volpetti is a member of the Holy Redeemer 3200-meter relay team that finished 22nd out of 30 teams in Class 2A boys in 8:35.11.
Abby Zolner from Dallas was 24th in the Class 3A girls 300 hurdles in 48.09 seconds.
Tunkhannock’s Dalton Yeust did not clear a height in the Class 3A boys pole vault, which started at 13 feet.
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