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Felpel rises up, claims three medalsWins gold, a silver and a bronze
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Kyle Felpel has always shown the ability to raise his level of game in regards to the competition.
That has been a standard with the Cocalico junior since he burst on the scene a few years ago. And this past weekend, he needed to up his game a few notches more against a loaded throwing field at the District Three Track Championships held at Shippensburg University.
Felpel, who won district titles in both discus and shot put a year ago, won a gold, a silver and a bronze to lead all Cocalico athletes at the two-day championships. Felpel recorded a school-record throw of 59-3.5 on his first attempt in the shot finals to edge Hempfield star Kyle Long (59-2) for gold. He then went on to claim second place (to Long’s throw of 190-5) with a heave of 175-0 in the discus, and capped his weekend with a surprising third-place medal (184-0) in the javelin, finishing behind only champion Jamie Colon of Donegal (189-7) and runner-up Steve Feister of Hempfield (188-8).
"It was a pleasure as a coach to see Kyle really relax, compete well and just really be Kyle," Cocalico Coach Ron Derr said of Felpel’s weekend. "At this level the mental aspect of competition goes up a few notches so it is always a challenge to see athletes excel despite any perceived pressure. To finish top three in all three of the throwing events at the district level is exceptional. I have to give a lot of credit to our throwing coaches, Scott Krall and Dustin Leed. They helped Kyle prepare mentally and physically to perform well this weekend."
While some viewed his bronze medal in the javelin as somewhat of a surprise, Derr said he was more impressed with his effort in the shot put.
"Javelin would definitely be the event least practiced by Kyle," Derr said. "Physically he has the ability to throw it well, but to this point much more time has been invested into his shot and disc preparation. I always really like to see the athletes showing effort in the competition from each throw to the next so it was exciting to see him hit his best distance (184-0) on his last throw.
"(But) as a coach I think the event that really caught my attention was the shot put. He was the returning district champion in shot, but he has struggled a bit with consistency in his throws during the year. When he threw above 54 feet on his first throw we knew we could be in for a special day. We have known that some big throws (upper 50’s) were always a potential for him, but he has not been able to successfully hit a big throw like that until this meet. It was very exciting to see him break his own school record with the 59-3.5 throw. Kyle is not one to show a lot of emotion, but you could visually see his excitement and thrill at getting that big throw out there. Even more important you could see that he was really enjoying the competition and making the most of his opportunity."
Speaking of opportunities, Felpel will get one more chance to shine on the ultimate stage also known as the PIAA Championships this coming weekend back at Shippensburg. He was the lone State qualifier for the Eagles, and will compete in all three throwing events next week.
A year ago, Felpel earned a pair of medals at States, finishing fourth in the shot put and eighth in discus.
As for expectations, Derr said he simply wants Felpel to enjoy the ride.
"As a head coach, I want to see him enjoy the competition, treasure the moment, and throw to the best of his ability," he said.
Aside from Felpel, the rest of the Cocalico track team didn’t fare too well this past weekend, despite their efforts.
Ashley Strenko was solid in the girls high jump as she finished in a five-way tie for 10th place with a leap of 4-10. Ben Graybill hit 12-6 in pole vault to tie Manheim Central’s Drew Engle for 10th place, and Courtney Ueberroth shook off a slight injury to place 18th in the triple jump with a leap of 31-3.5.
Finally, the 11th seeded girls 4 X 100 relay team of Ueberroth, Jess Lawville, Carrie Sensenig and Gina Glass was DQ’ed in the finals.
"We stressed to all kids competing that we were going to Shippensburg to do our best," Derr said. "Ashley Strenko and Ben Graybill cleared heights. Courtney Ueberroth gave a shot at both the hurdles and triple jump despite not being 100 percent. And our girls 4 x 100 competed although they had a rough hand-off which affected their ability to run a great time. We just asked the kids to give us their best efforts, and I feel we got those this weekend." More FELPEL, page B-4