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Freeport takes second at WPIAL track championships

| Friday, May 8, 2009

WEST MIFFLIN -- They didn't win the title, but undermanned Freeport captured the runner-up trophy while surprising Deer Lakes took third place Thursday at the WPIAL Class AA boys track and field team championships at the West Mifflin Sports Complex.

Riverside repeated as the champion, while Mohawk ended up fourth at the four-team meet.

Several athletes from Freeport and Deer Lakes -- Section 7-AA rivals -- turned in outstanding performances to keep their teams in the running for the WPIAL title for most of the afternoon.

Freeport junior Darius Frantz enjoyed a notable outing by finishing first in the high jump with a personal-best height of 6 feet, 2 inches. He also finished third in the long jump with a distance of 19-5.

Deer Lakes senior David Fish, who recently picked up the javelin, launched a personal-best throw of 174-11 to win that event by nearly 20 feet. Fish also placed second in the triple jump with a leap of 40-2.

"I'm very happy," said Freeport coach Bill Dillen, who guided the Freeport boys to WPIAL titles in 2002 and '03. "We had a couple of injuries. And Riverside is a very good team. Second best in the WPIAL is not bad."

There are 58 Class AA teams in the WPIAL.

Freeport made a determined effort despite missing freshman sprinter Marcel Ittner, who dominated in the WPIAL semifinals but was out with a knee injury, and senior middle distance runner John Reichenbaugh, who is recovering from an illness.

"We moved some things around, and the other kids stepped it up," Dillen said.

Freeport lost to Riverside (89-61) but defeated Deer Lakes (94-56) and Mohawk (83-67).

Deer Lakes, which finished second in Section 7-AA behind Freeport, took third in the WPIAL by beating Mohawk (83-66) while losing to Riverside (94-56) and Freeport.

"We didn't expect to do as well as we did and get this far in the playoffs," second-year Deer Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. "It was a joy to get here."

Snyder was pleasantly surprised by Fish's performance in the javelin. Last year, Waynesburg's Nick Patton won the WPIAL Class AA title with a throw of 175-3 -- just four inches farther than Fish's distance yesterday.

"Fish picked up the javelin about halfway through the season," Snyder said. "He asked me if he could throw, and I said, 'No.' Then, he threw and said, 'Coach, check this out.' And I said, "Okay, you're in.'"

Both Dillen and Snyder pointed out that depth got their teams to the final.

Other top-three finishers for Freeport were Tyler Collins (first, triple jump; second, long jump), John Douglas (third, shot put), Derek Durand (third, 110 hurdles; third, high jump), Nick Gentile (first, 800; second, 1,600), Alex Isenberg (third, triple jump), Matt Lucas (third, javelin), Matt Marshall (second, discus), Tyler Pajerski (second, pole vault), Mitch Shaw (third, 200), Miles Smolic (third, discus), the 400 relay team (third), and the 3,200 relay team (second).

Deer Lakes was led by Paul Burkhart (second, 300 hurdles), Mitch Martin (first, 100; first, 200), Matt Schultz (second, 100), Troy Szwaczkowski (third, 800), Zach Wozniak (third, 1,600), the 400 relay team (first), the 1,600 relay team (second), and the 3,200 relay team (third).

Martin, a sophomore, was the only local athlete to win two individual events.

"He's a gamer," Snyder said about Martin. "He gives you everything he's got. I think he does have a really good chance in the 100 and 200 next week (at the WPIAL Class AA individual championships)."

Also Thursday, Freedom won the girls Class AA title. In Class AAA, the North Allegheny boys and Norwin girls were crowned champions.

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