SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Returning to the scene a year later, Cait Mautz saw it philosophically.
"Everyone has bad meets," she said. "Mine just happened to come at the state meet."
Of course, it helps to look back from the perspective of a newly minted state champion.
Given a chance to atone for a poor performance here last spring, Mautz triumphed in the Class AAA javelin Friday on Day 1 of the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Seth Grove Stadium.
The senior became the first Central Bucks West athlete to win a state title in a field event.
Battling a gusty, chilling headwind, Mautz threw 141 feet, 2 inches. That's less than her personal best of 144-7, which she put up to win District 1 gold last weekend, but still good enough to best her closest competitor by almost four feet.
And it was more than enough to forget all about the 115 she tossed at last year's state meet.
"I feel like I redeemed myself," Mautz said, citing the big-meet experience she has gained between then and now.
Mautz will be entering an unusual collegiate situation. She'll throw next year for the University of New Orleans, which began from scratch this season.
The school shuttered its track program in 2005 in the wake of Katrina and is in the process of rebooting.
"The program is up and rising," Mautz said. "It's cool to be a part of something that is building up again."
Triple threat. Wellington Zaza landed in a storm of sand, and the grandstand crowd above the triple-jump pit let out a long "Ahhhh."
The Garnet Valley senior already had clinched a second consecutive Class AAA title in the event with a jump of 49-101/4, and this, his final leap, was all about a chance at breaking the PIAA record of 50-5.
Zaza thought he had it, the crowd surely did, but there was just one problem.
"When I looked back and saw the red flag, it hurt my heart," he said.
Zaza had faulted on the jump, but he was still proud of it, which he estimated at more than 50 feet.
"I thought that jump got the record," Zaza said. "That actually felt different than all my other jumps, because my second phase was a bit higher and stronger, so on that landing, I felt confident."
Zaza's premier event is the hurdles, and he'll go into Saturday's final as the top qualifier in both the 110- and 300-meter races.
But of the four events he is targeting for individual gold this weekend, he might have been the biggest favorite in this.
The quirky event, which relies on technique, suits him well.
"I'm a very technical person. I like to play with it, have fun," Zaza said. "Long jump is just running and leaping off the board. It's not as fun."
Zaza had plenty of company from area athletes on the podium.
For the second straight weekend, North Penn's Jared Alston finished second to Zaza. He jumped 47-21/4.
La Salle's Corey Muggler, who finished seventh here last season, placed fourth with a leap of 46-01/4. Coatesville's Willie Royal (45-8), Cheltenham's Kyree Willis-Lear (45-61/2) and Wissahickon's Nkosi Jones (45-43/4) finished sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.
Notable. Coatesville's Darrik Muroski finished third in the discus with a 167-3. Haverford High's Brandon Waller was eighth. . . . Chris Stone of Springfield (Montco) finished second in the Class AA pole vault. He cleared 14-6, bettering his winning mark of 13-0 from districts last week. Stone was also eighth in the javelin. . . . Diamond Hodge of Girls High came in third in the Class AAA long jump with a mark of 18-71/4. She was followed by Methacton's Aghina Marshall in fourth, Owen J. Roberts' Holly Sullivan in seventh, and Pennridge's Ariana Przybylowski in eighth.
Upper Darby's Claudine Andre finished fourth in the Class AAA high jump, followed by Abington's Victoria Matthews in fifth. Shannon Taub of Council Rock South was eighth. . . . In the Class AA long jump, Bailey Kratz of Christopher Dock was fourth. Ke'Von Lumb of Bishop McDevitt finished fifth, and St. Basil's Katie Cassidy was eighth. . . . Bensalem's Tyra Roberts placed eighth in the Class AAA shot put. . . . Bishop McDevitt's Rikka Olson was eighth in the Class AA pole vault.