SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Christina Warren was in seventh grade at Perkiomen Valley Middle School when she caught the eye of the high school track coach, Ron Livers.
Friday afternoon at the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University, the Perkiomen Valley High School senior continued to show the greatness that Livers said he saw years earlier.
Warren, who will compete at Arizona State University next season, won the girls’ Class 3A triple jump championship for the third year in a row. She will also compete in Saturday’s 100-meter hurdles.
“It’s the consistency that makes me feel good about myself,” said Warren, whose winning jump was 41 feet, 4½ inches. “Honestly, I would rather win it once my senior year than to win it two years and not win it senior year.”
Later, she added, “It would make me worry that I had peaked, so I know that the ceiling is still higher.”
In Friday afternoon’s final flight, no other competitor jumped 40 feet. Tesia Thomas, a junior from District 3’s West York, finished second at 38-8¾.
Warren, who first tried the triple jump as a freshman, was disappointed she didn’t reach the state record of 42-10¼ that was set by McDowell’s Sheena Gordon in 2002.
“Slightly disappointed because it wasn’t the mark I was looking for,” Warren said of her winning jump. “But a win is a win, so you have to be happy with that.”
Happy is a good way to describe how Livers felt when he spotted Warren when she was a seventh-grade speedster in the hurdles and an impressive long jumper.
“I can’t wait to get my hands on you,” Livers recalls telling Warren back then. “I just let her go the rest of the meet. I waited two years, and she finally came in, and we got to work.”
Livers, a PIAA triple-jump champion at Norristown in 1972 and 1973, said he saw the makings of a special talent. It wasn’t until her freshman year in high school, however, that something in her athleticism made him think triple jump could be her future.
“That was always the long-term goal, to be one of the best triple jumpers in the nation as she is now," Livers said. "I saw that in her. She is the optimal athlete. The character, the work ethic. Everything you want in an athlete, she possesses it.”
The pole vault duel between Council Rock South junior John Franco and State College senior Luke Knipe had an anticlimactic ending compared to the excitement that took place on the way to the finale.
Knipe walked away the champion, while Franco, competing in his first PIAA championship, took silver.
Officially, both cleared 16 feet, but Knipe won because he needed fewer attempts to make it. Both missed their three attempts at 16-6, which would have tied the state record set by Strath Haven’s Chris Williams in 2012.
Before the final two attempts, Kennett senior Pierce Genereux, who finished fifth, snapped his pole in the middle of a jump to audible gasps from spectators in the grandstand and on the infield.
Genereux seemed to regain his balance and landed safely and uninjured, unlike the pole, which appeared to snap in three places. That pole happened to belong to Franco, who let Genereux use it.
“It was one of my favorite poles, too,” Franco said with a laugh. “We’re going to have to find a different pole now.”
On his final three jumps, Franco said, a different pole did him in. It might also motivate him for the future.
In order to reach the record height, Franco had to use a bigger, heavier pole to generate the force necessary to clear his 6-1, 172-pound frame over the bar. He would not have used the one that snapped.
“That pole was really big,” he said of his new equipment. “I think if I had more practice under my belt with it, I could have cleared that 16-6.”
Later, he added, “I honestly think i did pretty well. I put everything I had out there.”
Dan Dean of Neshaminy was third at 15-6.
Considering the humble beginnings of his high jump history, Faith Christian senior Joshua Forker, who wasn’t out-jumped in Friday’s 2A finals, was more than satisfied with his third-place finish.
Two competitors from District 3, junior Kolt Byers from Bermudian Springs and senior Tyler Hulse from Tulpehocken, finished first and second, respectively, due to tiebreak rules. None of the three finalists could reach the final height of 6-8. They all jumped 6-7.
Because Byers and Hulse completed 6-7 in fewer attempts than Forker, the only high jumper Faith Christian has ever fielded finished third.
Forker said he was happy with his performance but disappointed he didn’t win.
With perspective, though, he said he learned a valuable lesson.
“I learned to stay humble and be glad with what you have,” Forker said.
Later, he added: “Be thankful for what you have.”
As a sophomore, Forker had nowhere to practice because the school’s building in Sellersville didn’t have a track on its campus. Instead of quitting the high jump to focus on the hurdles, which initially got him interested in track, Forker studied the high jump on his own.
“I was like, ‘OK, how am i supposed to do that?’ ” Forker said Friday afternoon. “I actually had to watch YouTube videos, watching Olympians to see their form.”
Last year, however, Faith Christian coach Dave Loew got his team some practice time at his alma mater, Quakertown High School, which is coached by his former 4x100 relay teammate, John Farrell.
Loew graduated from Quakertown in 1983 and later ran at Delaware. Farrell graduated in 1981 and has been the Quakertown coach since 2004.
Left to his own devices, Forker jumped 5-4 as a sophomore. With practice, his personal record jumped to 6-2 as a junior. Friday at the PIAA finale, he set a new personal record. He also might have a few opportunities to compete in college next season, he said.
“It just makes me feel it’s not much of me,” he said, “but it’s more about the ability God gave me. It’s very humbling.”
Naheem Moore of Coatesville was second in the 3A triple jump at 46-0, and Allison Riches of Hatboro Horsham was third in the 3A pole vault at 12-0.
Girls’ Class 3A
Triple Jump - 1. Christina Warren, Perkiomen Valley, 41-4.50; 2. Tesia Thomas, West York, 38-8.75; 3. Amanda Tony, Wilson, 38-6; 4. Gabriella Recce, Central Dauphin, 38-5.75; 5. Anais Williams, North Penn, 38-4.25; 6. Zaiyah Marshall, South Western, 38-2.50; 7. Leslie Manson, Obama Academy, 37-11.25; 8. Rayna Todero, Franklin Regional, 37-8.
Pole Vault - 1. Sydney Horn, Manheim Township, 13-0; 2. Gabriella Recce, Central Dauphin, 12-6; 3. Allison Riches, Hatboro Horsham, 12-0; 4. Lyndsey Reed, State College, 12-0; 5. Nickolina, Annelli, Methacton, 11-6; 6. Jamilie Atiyeh, Allentown C.C., 11-6; 7. (tie) Danielle Heine, Abington Heights, 11-6; Camaryn Rodriguez, Methacton, 11-6.
Shot Put - 1. Keeley Suzenski, Berks Catholic, 46-7.50; 2. Siniru Iheoma, Council Rock South, 45-2.50; 3. Mackenna Orie, Hempfield (Dist. 7), 44-5; 4. Kayla Thorpe, Upper Darby, 43-0.50; 5. Kasey Thomas, Easton, 42-8; 6. Lillia Allen, Penn Hills, 42-0.25; 7. Shelly Jones, Gateway, 38-7; 8. Victoria Rudolph, Downingtown East, 38-2.
Girls Class 2A
High Jump - 1. Taylor Newton, Elk County Catholic, 5-7; 2. Emma Pavalek, Beaver, 5-7; 3. Caroline Ratchford, Bishop Carroll, 5-5; 4. Gianna Bedel, Slippery Rock, 5-4; 5. Laken Lewis, Clarion, 5-4; 6. Porschia Bennett, Towanda, 5-4; 7. Sara Wanat, Lakeland, 5-2; 8. (tie) Emma Roltson, Greenwood, 5-2; Lyric Janosik, Penn Cambria, 5-2.
Long Jump - 1. Hailey Zurich, Loyalsock, 18-1.50; 2. C-Keiyah Marshall, East Allegheny, 17-9.75; 3. Lyric Janosik, Penn Cambria, 17-9.75; 4. Sophia Gardner, Loyalsock, 17-6; 5. Sasha Lee, St. Basil Academy, 17-3; 6. Izzy Warren, St. Joseph’s Prep, 17-1.75; 7. Theresa Richardson, Conwell-Egan, 17-1; 8. Baylee Blauser, A.C. Valley, 17-1.
Discus - 1. Mallory Kauffman, Greenwood, 151-7; 2. Maura Huwalt, South Park, 136-9; 3. Sarah Korty, Carbondale, 136-7; 4. Mikayla Marino, Lakeland, 133-01; 5. Molly Piso, Hickory, 128-5; 6. Maizee Fry, United, 125-3; 7. Claire Kuzma, Quaker Valley, 124-4; 8. Miranda Schramm, Burgettstown, 122-11.
Javelin - 1. Skylar Sherry, Johnsonburg, 137-3; 2. Maryann Ackerman, Slippery Rock, 134-2; 3. Maura Huwalt, South Park, 131-0; 4. Danielle Trimbur, Oley Valley, 128-8; 5. Maddie Sieg, Delone Catholic, 128-5; 6. Madison Hawthorne, Greenville, 127-0; 7. Haley Croyle, Forest Hills, 123-10; 8. Rebecca Dirling, Brentwood, 119-6.
Boys Class 3A
Triple Jump - 1. Lance Hamilton, State College, 49-6; 2. Naheem Moore, Coatesville, 46-0; 3. Cam Mbalo, Shaler, 47-6; 4. Will Rivers, Manheim Central, 47-6; 5. Larry Coaxum, Garnet Valley, 46-7.25; 6. Logan Williamson, Neshaminy, 46-5.5; 7. Caleb Mabins, Erie McDowell, 46-5; 8. Jakari Lomax, Harrisburg, 46-1.
Pole Vault - 1. Luke Knipe, State College, 16-0; 2. John Franco, Council Rock South, 16-0; 3. Dan Dean, Neshaminy, 15-6; 4. Dan Hyatt, Hershey, 15-0; 5. Jack Codispot, Butler, 15-0; 6. David Wasson, State College, 15-0; 7. Pierce Genereaux, Kennett, 14-6; 8. Matt Julian, Penn Manor, 14-0.
Shot Put - 1. Nickolas Hyde, Somerset, 65-6.25; 2. Thomas Kitchell, Notre Dame G.P., 60-5.50; 3. Brandon George, Berks Catholic, 57-11.50; 4. Jeff Kline, Fleetwood, 56-6.75; 5. Brock Harmon, Chambersburg, 56-4.75; 6. Jason Wagner, Perkiomen Valley, 54-7.75; 7. Aidan Hayward, Owen J. Roberts, 54.6.50; 8. Jack Miller, Wilson, 54-3.
Boys Class 2A
High Jump - 1. Kolt Byers, Bermudian, 6-7; 2. Tyler Hulse, Tulpehocken, 6-7; 3. Joshua Forker, Faith Christian, 6-7; 4. Jake Hogg, Youngsville, 6-6; 5. Bryce Ellinger, Minersville, 6-6; 6. Michael Niemann, Lansdale Catholic, 6-6; 7. Darnel Howell, Monessen, 6-2; 8. (tie) Logan Pfister, Chestnut Ridge, 6-2; Brandon Peterson, Smethport, 6-2; Zach Moyer, Northern Lehigh, 6-2.
Long Jump - 1. Brian Phillips, Hickory, 23-0; 2. Julian Fleming, Southern Columbia, 22-8.5; 3. Joseph Kearney, Pittsburgh North Catholic, 22-8; 4. Josh Volak, Palisades, 22-3; 5. Bryan Dworek, Brookville, 22-1.25; 6. Nathan Sciarro, Riverside (D-7), 22-0; 7. Julian Muccioli, Frazier, 21-7; 8. Assad Whitehead, Hanover, 21-2.50.
Discus - 1. Brock Grundy, Hickory, 183-2; 2. Duane Knisley, Chestnut Ridge, 171-9; 3. C.J. Dippre, Lakeland, 171-7; 4. James Parenti, Moniteau, 162-7; 5. Bailey Blint, Kane, 155-8; 6. Connor Vass-Gal, Wilmington, 155-7; 7. Jaxon White, Central Valley, 155-6; 8. Josh Sanders, Wilmington, 155-4.