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Local boys ready for trip to Shippensburg

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Thursday, May 22, 2003

Highlands senior Andy Tomaswick was looking for a map or a laptop computer when he crossed the finish line at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships last week at Baldwin High School's Cibik Stadium.

"Shippensburg?," Tomaswick asked. "I have absolutely no idea where Shippensburg is. I have to hurry up and check Yahoo for directions to get there."

A fourth-place finish in the 3,200-meter run pointed Tomaswick in the right direction. His time of 9:24.02 qualified him for the PIAA championships Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.

"This will be my first time at states and I am looking forward to it," said Tomaswick, who is seeded seventh in the two-mile field. "I was pretty excited about seeing the new Matrix movie, but I'm pretty excited about states, too."

Other local athletes headed to the state meet are Russel Verbofsky of Fox Chapel in the 200; the Fox Chapel 4x100 relay team of Cyrus Serrao, Justin Papariella, Richard Chapple and Tom Tonti; Tom Slosky of Highlands in the 1,600; Chris McKillop of Kiski Area in the javelin and shot put; Nick Novotny of Knoch in the triple and long jumps and Pat Weber of Valley in the shot put.

Verbofsky was one of the surprises at the WPIAL Class AAA championships. He shocked the 200 field when he ran to victory in a school-record 22.14 seconds after favorite Andrew Johnson of North Hills scratched.

"It will take a while to sink in," Verbofsky said after the race, soon after being mobbed by teammates at the finish line. "I am in shock right now, I think."

Verbofsky is seeded sixth. The top 200 runner in the state, Chris Akings of Avon Grove (District 1), posted a top time of 21.80.

The Foxes 400 relay team, Slosky, McKillop and Weber also will make first-time appearances at PIAAs, while Novotny, who placed sixth in the long jump as a junior, makes a return trip to Shippensburg.

McKillop has taken an interesting path to the state meet. He won a WPIAL championship in his first competitive season throwing javelin. He has been throwing shot put for two years.

"I am happy with (WPIALs) but I know I can throw better, and I have to at states," said McKillop, who is seeded 10th out of 23 throwers in the javelin and 16 out of 22 competitors in the shot put. "There is going to be some pretty good competition out there."

McKillop set a "new javelin" school record of 182 feet, 8 inches at the WPIAL meet. The "old javelin" record at Kiski is held by Tim Platt, who posted a mark of 218-5 in 1977.

Since there is a suggested 20 percent difference between the new and old javelin records, based on javelin weight, McKillop's record would translate to about 219 feet.

McKillop has thrown farther than 170 feet in 10 straight meets.

McKillop will need support from Kiski Area fans. His throwing coach, Jason Clouser, will miss the meet because he is in a wedding this weekend.

McKillop is scheduled to throw the shot at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the javelin three and a half hours later at 12:30.

"He wasn't too disappointed I wasn't going," Clouser said. "You don't get to do much coaching anyway, since coaches have to stay out of the way. I told him he can make it on his own."

Slosky, who ran well in a race where Ian Fitzgerald of North Hills set a WPIAL 1,600 record of 4:11.97, is seeded sixth.

Slosky posted a 4:20.33, good for third.

Additional Information:

PIAA Class AAA boys track and field championships

When: Friday and Saturday.

Where: Seth Grove Stadium, Shippensburg University.

Local qualifiers: Fox Chapel: 400 relay (Cyrus Serrao, Justin Papariella, Richard Chapple and Tom Tonti); Russel Verbofsky (200); Highlands: Tom Slosky (1,600), Andy Tomaswick (3,200); Kiski Area: Chris McKillop (javelin, shot put); Knoch: Nick Novotny (triple jump, long jump); Valley: Pat Weber (shot put).

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