Local athletes take aim at Class AA track titles
To Pete Kariotis of Burrell, running the 200-meter dash for the first time was like driving a car with manual transmission.
He had no idea what he was doing, but once he learned how to shift gears, it turned out to be a pretty smooth ride.
In fact, it was almost automatic to the Bucs senior.
'My knee's been bothering me, it's been pretty sore,' Kariotis said. 'I was hoping to qualify in maybe two events.
'I had no idea I would qualify in the 200. It was fun. I did better than I thought I would.'
Bruised knee or not, Kariotis knew he had a good shot in the 100 and the long jump.
He did well in both of those events, and ran a leg of the qualifying 400-meter relay team, giving Kariotis four events to look forward to in the WPIAL Class AA Individual Championships Tuesday.
Kariotis had his best mark of the season in the long jump at 20 feet, 11ß inches. He'll be one of 11 individual boys and six relay teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley vying for titles at South Side Beaver High School.
Individuals from the area will compete on a day that not only will crown WPIAL champions, but also will award many deserving athletes berths in the PIAA state meet May 25-26 at Shippensburg University.
The top three finishers in each event get automatic bids to states, while the top eight, should they meet a pre-determined qualifying time, also make the state meet.
Along with Kariotis, Freeport's Bobby Woods should make some noise in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.
He was fifth in the 300 hurdles last season and was 13th in the 110 hurdles at states.
Springdale's Zach Brown, who finished seventh in the WPIAL in 300 hurdles last year, has qualified in both hurdles events this year.
Only beaten locally by Woods this season, Brown is up to the challenge.
'I'm happy with my time in the 300,' Brown, who qualified in 15.8 seconds, said. 'It's not my best, but it is descent.
'I'm confident, I think I have a chance in the 300. I have to work on my endurance.'
Several local relays teams could fair well Tuesday.
The Ford City 3,200-meter relay of Chris Grantz, Casey Welch, Jon Grantz and Phil Hahn finished second to Mars at the Northern Qualifier this week. Hahn is the lone returnee from the 3,200 team that finished second in the WPIAL last year.
Hahn also might have a shot in the 800.
The Apollo-Ridge 400 relay team also did well in qualifying and could sneak into the mix in the finals.
Wide-eyed Riverview freshman Aaron Tallafero qualified in the triple jump, going 40 feet, 6Ý inches.
Who knows what he is capable of in his first year in the finals.