SHIPPENSBURG — Seneca Valley’s Zach Gehm walked off the medal stand believing his eighth-place effort in the Class 3A boys shot put Friday will lead to bigger and better things on Saturday.
Gehm is competing in the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.
“The discus and javelin, those are my best events,” Gehm said of the events in which he won WPIAL titles in last week. He is seeded first and second, respectively, in the state in those competitions this weekend.
As for his effort of 50-7 in the shot put, Gehm said, “I normally throw 49 or 50 in warm-ups and was doing that today, so I thought it could be a good day. Then the competition started and I just didn’t hit much.”
Gehm, who achieved 53-6.75 to finish runner-up at districts in the event last week, was 15th in the shot put here last year. He did concede, “It’s pretty good to get out of here with a medal.”
In preliminary action, the Butler and Seneca Valley boys 4x800 relay teams both advanced to the final 12, which will compete Saturday.
The Golden Tornado quartet of Brett Brady, Aden Dressler, Rob Hays and Doug Kostelansky had the day’s fastest time at seven minutes, 59.02 seconds, which is Butler’s second-best time this season.
“It’s all about advancing to tomorrow,” said Butler distance coach Rick Davanzati. “The boys did that. Winning the heat was icing on the cake.”
Senior Noah Beveridge, a Syracuse University recruit who can be counted on for a sub-2 minute split in the event, is eligible to run the event Saturday.
“He’s also running the 3,200 (individually), so we’ll see how he feels,” said Davanzati. “He’s versatile and has run a lot of events for us. It’s why a lot of Division I schools were interested in him.”
Seneca Valley’s Sam Owori, Luke Bellack, Andrew Balla and Seth Ketler ran a 7:59.91 in prelims.
“The goal today is to do enough to get through while expending the least amount of energy,” said SV distance coach Justin Dosch. “You have to save something for the finals.”
At the WPIAL Championships last week, Balla replaced an injured Alex Dixon and helped the Raiders win a district title with a time of 7:51.37. Dixon is still unable to go, but Ketler believes Balla is ready.
“He ran a 1:58 at WPIALs and I know he can do even better,” Ketler said. “He’s definitely capable.”
Butler placed second to the Raiders at districts. The Butler County and section rivals undoubtedly influence each other’s success.
“It’s a very difficult section and it pushes us every day,” said Dosch, “but when you get out here, there’s a lot of great teams. We obviously want to beat Butler, but we want to beat everybody.”