SHIPPENSBURG – The cartoon character Popeye had his spinach.
Portage Area High School junior Lauren Shaffer turned to applesauce to rejuvenate her while competing in multiple events in the PIAA girls Class 2A Track and Field Championship Meet.
“I’ve had three so far,” Shaffer said of applesauce servings that were on the menu as she medaled in three events on Friday at Shippensburg University.
“I love the squeeze (container) applesauce. They’re perfect. You don’t need a spoon or anything,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer completed a total of seven laps around the Seth Grove Stadium track while maintaining a hectic schedule. She placed third in the 1600-meter run, was fifth in the 400 and seventh in the 800.
Shaffer posted a personal best time of 5:01.59 in the 1600.
Top-seeded Melissa Riggins of Shady Side Academy won her third state championship in 4:48.91 in the 1600. Riggins won gold as a freshman, sophomore and senior, only being denied by the COVID-19 pandemic cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season.
Fairview’s Madison Hayes finished second at 5:01.2 and provided a strong pace for Shaffer, who nearly pulled even throughout the final lap.
“I was very happy. That’s a new PR for me,” Shaffer said. “I knew Melissa (Riggins) ran a 4:50 last week. I said, ‘OK. I know where she’s at. I can’t chase.’
“I tried to stay in that little pack in the beginning. I didn’t want to go out too fast. I kind of stuck with the girl in second (Hayes) and she really had a good pace for me. A good race.”
Shaffer placed fifth in the 400-meter run.
“I’m kind of tired,” she said after the event.
“My legs are really burning, but I guess that’s the 400,” said Shaffer, who placed sixth in the 400 at the state meet two years ago. “I’m really happy with that time after (running) the mile, too.”
After medaling in the 800, Shaffer smiled and caught her breath.
“It was new this year after taking that year off,” Shaffer said. “I’m not used to running with the pack either.
“Coach was telling me how I didn’t run very smart in the mile. I was coming around in the second lane the whole time, which isn’t the best. But you’ve got to learn somehow.
“Usually, I’m used to being in the front. I think I ran that race better.”
“I am pretty tired,” she said. “My legs, this last 50 meters, I was dying.”
United senior Maizee Fry, who is headed to Division I Robert Morris University to compete in track and field, also had a busy day while earning three medals.
Fry was third in the shot put (41-3.5), seventh in the javelin (129-2) and eighth in the discus (122-7).
“I’m very excited. I came out with three state medals, I’ll take it,” Fry said after the javelin medal ceremony. “It was great. These four years I had were awesome. I’d like to thank my coaches, my parents and the Lord above. I’m just glad I got what I was able to do this season. I’ll take anything and I’m excited for the next step.”
Fry finished third and Northern Cambria senior Regan Sheredy placed fifth (38-7.25) in the shot put. They also were joined on the medal stand by Homer-Center sophomore Justley Sharp, a third Heritage Conference competitor in the top five, in fourth (40-5.5).
“It was a really good day and I’m glad the rain held out,” Fry said. “I was very consistent today throwing in the 40s, but I just kept making minor mistakes. Finally, I hit a 41. It felt good. It was my last high school throw, so I’ll take it.”
The shot put medal stand had a familiar look for those who were in Altoona for the District 6 meet on May 18.
“All three of us are from District 6,” Sheredy said of conference rivals Fry and Sharp.
“We’ve had good competition against each other, but we’re always cheering for each other in the background and just having fun.
“I always said coming here is like a different world,” Sheredy added. “There are athletes everywhere. There is so much competition. Just coming here today, obviously I was nervous.
“I was just trying to get a PR. I came in, ‘As long as I get a PR, that’s the best I can do.’ I never thought I could get on the podium. Hitting a PR is great. I dreamt of that number. It was a great experience overall.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.