Kiski Area 400 relay team catches break in state final
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SHIPPENSBURG — Call the members of Kiski Area's boys 400-meter relay the beneficiaries of a technicality. Just make sure to also call them PIAA placewinners.
The Cavaliers finished eighth in the PIAA Class AAA track and field championship's 400 relay final, a performance that earned them a spot on the medal stand Saturday at Seth Grove Stadium. They had a time of 43.62 seconds.
To run at all Saturday came as a surprise, considering they initially failed to make the cut in Friday's preliminary round.
Kiski Area did not advance out of the prelims after placing second in its heat — only the top team in each of the four heats automatically qualified — and its time, 43.76, did not rank among the eight fastest times overall.
But Pennsbury, the winner of Kiski Area's heat, was pulled from Saturday's race, so the Cavaliers — senior Jake Wilson, senior Andrew Dickun, junior Ben Kinnamon and junior Corbin Neumann — found new life.
“I feel like we snuck in there, and nobody expected us to do this,” said Neumann, who ran the third leg.
Strong wind bursts stifled the team's effort to set a new personal record; the Cavaliers' best this season is 43.0.
But the Cavaliers still found satisfaction. After all, they finished the race. Last season, the Cavaliers were disqualified after leaving an exchange area early during their preliminary heat.
“Last year, we came into states and messed up,” said Dickun, who runs the anchor leg. “We knew we had to pick up the slack and bring home a medal.”
Kiski Area's boys 3,200 relay team, though unable to medal at the PIAA championships, avenged a loss to its WPIAL rival, North Allegheny.
The Cavaliers' 3,200 relay spent much of the season atop the Class AAA honor roll. But at the WPIAL championships, North Allegheny snagged gold, and Kiski Area took silver.
On Saturday, Kiski Area crossed the finish line in 8:12.19, while North Allegheny had a time of 8:20.17.
Junior Brent Kennedy, one member of the distance relay, also grabbed Kiski Area's other PIAA medal with a seventh-place finish in the Class AAA 3,200. Jostling among the leaders the whole way, he finished in 9:20.16, less than 10 seconds behind champion Ethan Martin, a Fox Chapel junior.
Between Ethan Martin and Kennedy down the final straightaway was Colin Martin, Ethan's brother, who placed fourth in the 3,200 with a time of 9:16.12.
Finishing just behind his twin is nothing new for Colin Martin, who did not beat Ethan in a race this season; both excelled in the 3,200 and the 1,600.
“I've been taking second place all this time to my brother,” Colin Martin said. “Just getting to take one win from him is all I want.”
There's a desire to beat his brother. There's no bitterness directed toward Ethan, though.
“Maybe one percent is (rooting against Ethan),” Colin Martin said. “I'd say the other 99 percent is absolutely just feeling great for him. He's been working really, really hard and training really hard all season. Him having that (title), it's something that's going to push us together.”
While the Martins are well known in the distance running community, Riverview senior Greg Wagner, who placed seventh in the Class AA 3,200, is something of an oddity.
While most 3,200 standouts ran cross country in the fall, Wagner strapped on a helmet and did his part for the Raiders' football team.
“Being a football player who never ran cross country or anything like that, this is just special to me,” Wagner said of his PIAA medal.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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