Portage freshman Lauren Shaffer has taken nothing for granted during the 2018-19 school calendar year, but will be making her second trip to state championship events this weekend at the PIAA Class AA Track and Field finals in Shippensburg.

In her first PIAA cross country appearance, the Mustangs’ athlete, who also plays basketball and softball, placed second in a field of 216 runners.

Shaffer, who won the 100 dash at the District 6 meet and also qualified in the 200 and 400 for the state championships, said that there is quite a bit of difference in the two running pursuits.

“Because I went to states in cross country, everyone kept telling me that they knew that I could also make it in track,” said Shaffer after the District 6 championships. “I don’t know why, but cross country is a lot less nerve-wracking. This (running track) is scary. I didn’t know what to expect at districts, because it was my first time here and I am expecting something like this at states, only bigger.”

Making the most of an opportunity: Meyersdale senior Bryia Swick had the best triple jump of her career last Wednesday at the District 5 Track and Field Championships.

“My goal was a 33, because that would have been my PR (personal record),” said Swick, who instead leaped 34 feet, 3 inches. “Jumping a foot farther than that is definitely something incredible.”

Swick has plenty of work ahead of her heading to her first state championship competition.

“Definitely just working on phase work and conditioning is something that helps push you to do better,” the Red Raiders jumper said.

Climbing the mountain: When the spring season began, Shade track and field coach Mark O’Ship wasn’t sure what to expect from his girls’ squad.

“To be honest with you, at the beginning of the year, we didn’t think we would be able to do this, we just didn’t have the number of kids,” said O’Ship on Wednesday after the Panthers had won their first-ever District 5 team title. “We got a couple (meets) under our belt. 

“The ones that we have are really good. A lot of times, it’s not how many you have, it’s the quality of them. They worked their butts off. They’ve been together for a while. They’re a good group of girls.”

Freshman Mary Hostetter won the 100 and 200, and junior Emily Coddington claimed the victory in the 1600 while the 400 and 1600 relays both took gold.

Senior Lorna Speigle ran a leg each in the 400 and 1600 relays, and qualified in the 400 with a second-place finish. 

Speigle joined Hostetter, Coddington and senior Morgan Maurer in the 400 relay victory in a meet record time. The Panthers’ senior then ran with junior Grace Leiford, sophomore Stephanie Emert and Coddington for the victory in the 1600 relay.

“We knew coming in that we would have to go one-two in a lot of the sprinting events, hit them on the relays,” O’Ship said. 

“That’s what we did. The kids were just phenomenal today.” 

Family pride: Jim and Frankie Havas, of Johnstown, recently had an opportunity to watch their grandson Logan Havas, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, compete in the National Junior Olympics Level 9 Gymnastics competition in Reno, Nev.

“It was surreal being there,” said the excited grandmother, Frankie. “It was exciting and nerve- wracking at the same time. Watching Logan compete with all of those other kids, who were the best in the nation, was just amazing.”

Logan Havas finished third overall with second-place finishes in the pommel horse, high bar and parallel bars.


Cory Isenberg is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5080.​ Follow her on Twitter @CoryIsenbergTD.

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