SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Carlton Lavong has finally delivered at the PIAA track and field championships.
The Methacton senior jumped 50 feet, 5 inches to win the Class AAA boys' triple jump Friday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium. That broke the Class AAA state-meet record of 50-31/2 set by Muhlenberg's Chris Aikens in 1993.
It also wiped away the Michigan State signee's label as an outdoor state-meet underachiever. Lavong had disappointing fifth- and third-place finishes in 2008 and 2009, respectively, despite being favored to win.
"Previous years, I haven't really been focused on my event when I'm there," said Lavong, known for his flamboyant antics during events. "This year was different with the focus. So that's what played a big part.
"I just wanted to have fun in the past. But I learned I had to win first."
As a result, he was one of five state champions from Southeastern Pennsylvania on the first day of the two-day meet.
St. Pius X's Thomas Lang won the Class AA boys' javelin; Abington's Jordan Matthews, Class AAA girls' long jump; Bensalem's Eric Masington, Class AAA boys' discus; and Pennridge's Annie Holland, Class AAA girls' high jump.
Having his heart broken in previous seasons, Lavong looked more relieved than excited after his victory.
But he was still the Lavong fans have come to know, for the most part.
The senior wore a blond Mohawk haircut with LJ and TJ carved on the left side, signifying his long-jump and triple-jump events. He wore sunglasses despite a gray sky, and had K-I-N-G S-P-R-I-N-G-Z written on the back of his T-shirt.
But instead of his usual boasting, Lavong mainly kept to himself and focused on his event.
The tactic worked. His record-setting effort came on his second jump of the preliminaries. Lavong then passed on his third prelim jump and first two attempts in the final to stay fresh for the 4x100-meter relay trials.
McDowell's Pat Cochran finished a distant second in the triple jump at 47-11. Penn Hills' Richard Rouse was third at 47-2.
Lavong wasn't the only area gold medalist to break a meet record.
Lang's 213-10 mark in the Class AA javelin surpassed the classification's previous state-meet record of 207-10 set by Central Columbia's Osayi Osunde in 2005. Osunde went to become a standout linebacker for Villanova.
Lang's winning heave came on his first attempt in the preliminaries. Lancaster Catholic's Kyle Smith produced a 213-0 on his second attempt of the final to finish second.
"Last year, I came out here and finished 17th," Lang said. "This year, I came in as the No. 1 seed, and to finish first is just unbelievable. I threw almost 50 feet farther in this competition [Friday] than I did last year."
Unlike Lang, Matthews wasn't overly impressed with her performance. Still, the sophomore was elated with her result.
That's because Matthews' 18-41/2 effort enabled her to win the AAA girls' long-jump title that had eluded her last season. Cheltenham's Brittney Howell was second (18-3), and Carlisle's Ashley Corum placed third (18-21/4.)
"I thank God that I got out here and did what I needed to do to get the state title in the long jump," said Matthews, whose personal best is 19-7. "I took seventh last year."
Going from seventh place to first might not be as impressive as what Masington did.
The Bensalem senior won the AAA boys' discus a year after failing to qualifying for the District 1 championships in the event. His winning heave (177-9) was way of ahead of the one (169-11) posted by Holy Ghost Prep's Jim Budzinski, the runner-up.
Moments after Masington beamed with excitement while leaving the awards stand, Holland approached it with a stunned look on her face.
Her winning height (5-8) in the AAA girls' high jump was an inch more than the second-place 5-7 by Upper Dublin's Taylor Morgan.
"Honestly, I didn't expect to do as well as I did today, because I have been dealing with a stress fracture for six years," the junior said of her injured right foot. "And it's been flaring up on me lately."