SHIPPENSBURG — Abington Heights senior Katie Dammer capped off her career with two more silver medals as the girls team finished in a tie for eighth place and senior Kyle Burke brought home a gold medal to help the boys finish in a tie for 24th during the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A Track and Field State Championships May 26 at Shippensburg University.
A Lehigh University commit, Burke placed first in the 1600-meter run in 4:16.93.
Abington Heights head coach Mike Ludka felt Burke was peaking at the right time heading into the state race.
“About two weeks ago, at the Spagna meet, he posted a 4:14 in the mile,” Ludka said. “That was when I knew he should be in the mix in the state championship race. I really had a good feeling that he could win it and that was the attitude going in. He wasn’t just running to try to get a medal; he was running the race to win.”
Ludka feels Burke’s training over the offseason gave him a leg up on the competition.
“With the speed that he developed over the course of the last year, he had a weapon that I don’t think anybody in the field could match and I don’t think any of them really even knew about it,” Ludka said. “He missed qualifying last year by one spot, so he was a little bit of an unknown.
“I think he did a really good job of using past failures as motivation.”
Dammer, a Georgetown University commit, placed second in the 1600-meter run in 4:47.94 and second in the 3,200-meter run in 10:30.79.
Sophomore Taryn Parks, of Greencastle-Antrim, placed first in 4:46.09 in the 1600 and sophomore Marlee Starliper, of Northern, placed first in 10:25.28 in the 3200.
“Some of Pennsylvania’s distance girls are among the best in the country,” Ludka said. “The bar is raised so high in those races that you have to do something really special to be in the mix. (Katie) had five second-place finishes (in state races) during her career, which is really impressive.
“Of course, we would have liked to get a win somewhere along the way, but her career was pretty outstanding. She handled both races better than anyone else who did the two of them (this year) and I think she really enjoyed the challenge of it.”
Junior Dani Heine earned a fifth-place medal in the pole vault finals by clearing 12 feet.
“She had a really strong day,” Ludka said. “She had a couple misses early that could have thrown her off, but she didn’t let them get to her. She stayed within herself and matched her personal record. I really couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Junior Antonio Maletta placed 10th in the 300 meter hurdles prelims in 39.64.
“He was pulling up next to the leader and just clipped the hurdle a little bit,” Ludka said. “In the 300 hurdles, in particular, one little mistake can hurt you, but he had a phenomenal run despite the hiccup in the race.”
Abington Heights’ 4X400 meter relay team of senior Chris Schimelfenig, senior Dan Uhranowsky, Maletta and Burke finished 18th in the prelims in 3:27.07.
“They ran well,” Ludka said. “It was a long day of waiting around and trying to keep focused for their race. I can’t say that they were perfectly content with how it panned out but the competition of that race, like many down there, is extremely intense.”
Junior Calista Marzolino placed 26th in the 100 meter hurdles prelims in 16:39. Ludka was pleased with her performance, especially due to the fact that she was battling an injury.
“She came into the meet with a bone bruise in her foot, which definitely hampered her, but she’s a tough kid,” Ludka said. “It was an admirable effort just to get out there and race, let alone race pretty well.”
Lackawanna Trail sophomore Victoria James placed 16th in the Class 2A 800-meter run in 2:25.44 on May 25
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.