Seniors Kyle Burke and Katie Dammer both excelled during Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A Track & Field Championships May 25-26 at Shippensburg University.
For their efforts at the state meet and throughout the entire season, they received All-State recognition from the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association.
Dammer, a Georgetown University recruit, was a second-team selection in the girls 3200-meter run and a third-team selection in the 1600-meter run. She placed second in both races during the PIAA Championships.
“What I was really going for was to show how consistent I’ve been able to be over the past four years,” she said. “I think making All-State in two different events is a good way of showing it.”
She was also a second-team selection in the 1600 as a junior and a third-team selection in the 1600 as a sophomore.
While Dammer could have put all her effort into one race at the state meet, she embraced the challenge of pushing her limits.
“It was a big decision for my coach (Mike Ludka) and I on whether I should do both events or not,” she said. “At the end of the day, I’m definitely glad I did it because I ran two PRs (personal records) and I had a lot of fun in both.
“The reason I was so comfortable and confident in my abilities to do well in both was because I’ve learned a ton over the past few years and I was mature enough to handle it.”
Dammer credits good health, great coaching and talented, supportive teammates for making her high school career memorable and enjoyable.
”I never missed a meet for injury and I think that’s really rare,” she said. “I’m really proud that I was able to run a PR every year because that’s also really rare, especially for high school girls. I’m just grateful that my coach was able to help me keep improving; that keeps it fun and exciting. I was on such an amazing team and that also made it easy to work hard every day. I’m just really grateful for the past four years.”
Dammer placed 10th out of 11 runners, with a time of 10:33.65, during the girls two-mile run at the Brooks PR Invitational June 8 in Shoreline, Washington.
Burke, a Lehigh University recruit, was a second-team selection for the boys 1600-meter run after placed first in the event during the PIAA Championships.
“I had been shooting for a state medal my entire high school career,” Burke said. “I knew this was going to be my last opportunity and I just really wanted to finish my career on a high note, and not have any regrets. I put myself in contention and ended up coming away with the win.”
Even though he felt confident heading into the state meet, the result was still a little overwhelming.
“Having raced at Shippensburg my junior year, I had a leg up on a lot of the guys in terms of experience,”Burke said. “I had the second fastest time, this season, of all the guys left in the finals and I knew it was pretty realistic that I would have a shot at winning, but actually coming across the line first was pretty surreal.”
Burke believes his training schedule as well as a some disappointments along the way fueled his desire to develop into an All-State caliber runner.
“It’s really cool to see the growth that I’ve had,” he said. “Coming into my freshman year, I wasn’t one of the top (runners) in the state or even one of the top in the district. I definitely had to work my way up. When I look back at my times, there is a gradual improvement from year to year. I couldn’t be happier with how my four years of high school have gone.
“I’ve definitely had my fair share of failures, so it was pretty sweet, especially with it being my senior year, to come away with a gold in my last race.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.