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Bagwell breaks Shaler track team's 14-year medal-less drought

| Sunday, May 28, 2017, 4:03 p.m.
Shaler's Michael Bagwell competes in the triple jump April 4, 2017, at Mars.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler's Michael Bagwell competes in the triple jump April 4, 2017, at Mars.

The Shaler coaching staff didn't inform senior Michael Bagwell how long the boys program had gone without a medalist.

Truth is, the coaches didn't even know.

Ignorance was bliss for Bagwell, who was going to be busy no matter what happened Friday. Following the PIAA Class AAA track and field championships, he was driving back from Shippensburg to attend Shaler's prom.

Bagwell, who was seeded 19th entering the meet, outperformed expectations. With a leap of 44 feet, 11 12 inches, Bagwell was the WPIAL's top finisher and earned his way onto the podium with a sixth-place finish.

Milton Hershey's Treyvon Ferguson won the title with a leap of 47-5½.

“The coaches told me today it had been 14 years since the last guy medaled,” Bagwell said. “I'm glad they didn't tell me. It would've worried me, the expectations to break the streak.”

He became the first medal-winner from Shaler since John Balouris finished second in the 800-meter run in 2004. Titans coach Jim Ryan wasn't even sure how long it had been before Bagwell earned his way into the top eight.

“I just got the information from (former Shaler coach) Justin (Eskra) after Mike got his medal,” Ryan said.

Bagwell's consistency allowed him to beat both jumpers who were ahead of him at WPIALs. Franklin Regional's Jacob Shedd finished ninth, and Hampton's Jason Goodman came in 10th.

“It goes back to the thing I've been saying all year,” Ryan said. “His consistency has been a factor to beat these guys and the place where he was. The two guys who beat him in WPIALs didn't medal because they couldn't consistently hit the numbers that got them to states. Mike was able to hit jumps in the high 44s consistently.”

Bagwell, who might play club sports in college, was motivated by the fact it was one of his last times jumping.

He was able to make it count.

“I knew I hit the mark I needed to,” Bagwell said. “I was in the mental state of thinking about what I needed to do.”

That was only part of the thought process. Once the meet was over, he had to hustle home. Bagwell still was wearing his medal as he got ready for the prom.

“It's hectic,” Bagwell said. “I just picked up the flowers, and I have to shower and get ready for pictures.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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