First Posted: 5/16/2013
Ronnie D’Eliseo shined from the moment the District 2 Class AAA Track and Field Championships began in the afternoon sun Tuesday as he led qualifying in the 110-meter high hurdles, the first boys event.
D’Eliseo stood out under the stadium lights, anchoring the winning 1600-meter relay more than six hours later as competition drew to a close.
Throughout the day, D’Eliseo put together the strongest overall performance among the hundreds of athletes who competed in a variety of events.
D’Eliseo won the maximum four gold medals – two as an individual and two as a member of relay teams – while setting a district meet record in his best event and school records in two others. Those district championships advance D’Eliseo and his relay teammates to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
“This 4 by 4 right here,” D’Eliseo said when asked about his favorite moment in a highlight-reel day. “My relay team; we’re like brothers. The whole year we talked about how we could win districts and we kept pushing each other to try to do it.
“And, we finally did it.”
Austin Naples, Josh John and Mike Harth ran the first three legs, giving D’Eliseo the lead before he ran the fastest leg to clinch the title. Angelo Aita, Harth and Naples did the set up work for D’Eliseo in the 400 relay win.
Those were not the only impressive efforts by a Pittston Area relay team.
The Lady Patriots won the first of 36 gold medals decided on the day when the team of Madison Mimnaugh, Tara Johnson, Samantha Mayers and Catherine Lombardo set a record in the 3200 meter relay in 9:32.81, 10 seconds faster than their 9:42.83 seed time. The previous record was 9:33.43 by Wallenpaupack last year.
District winners advance to Shippensburg along with those who matched qualifying standards stringent enough to establish them as medal contenders on the state level.
Nick O’Brien and Trent Grove were the only two Wyoming Area boys to qualify. They finished third and fifth in a remarkable javelin competition in which six District 2 athletes reached the state meet in the same event for the first time in the 21st Century.
Olivia Giambra of Pittson Area made it while finishing second in the long jump.
Mimnaugh will also compete as an individual after her effort while placing third in the 1600.
The Wyoming Area girls are sending Haley Stackhouse, in the high jump, and Marcyssa Brown, in the long jump, after each qualified while placing third.
D’Eliseo was the fastest hurdler by more than half a second in qualifying and finals of the 110 and by more than a second in the 300 where competitors run just once each. His 110 time was the second fastest ever at the D2 meet and his 300 time of 38.10 broke the decade-old record established by Steve Kerestes of Coughlin.
“That’s my strong event,” said D’Eliseo, who swept the two hurdles titles for the second straight year. “Originally, I wanted to get that record. But, then when we decided to do the 4 x 100, I thought I’d be too gassed to get it.
“But, I got it. The competition pushed me.”
In his career D’Eliseo won six District 2 gold medals, one silver and one bronze, along with one Indoor state medal.
The seeding for the state championships isn’t official yet, but D’Eliseo is likely to be top five in both hurdles and as high as two in the 300.
The boys 400 relay team set a school record by finishing in 43.54 to edge Hazleton Area by 13-100ths of a second.
Pittston Area was seeded 14-hundredths of a second behind Abington Heights in the girls 3200 relay, but Mimnaugh, a freshman, made sure the Lady Patriots controlled the race throughout.
“We wanted to get the district record,” Mimnaugh said. “We were trying to push ourselves to do that.”
Mimnaugh ran an opening leg of 2:19, a time that would have been good enough to take the 800-meter title if repeated later in the day, to put Pittston Area well in front.
Fellow freshmen Johnson and Mayers and Lombardo, a senior, each ran 2:25 or better to protect the lead.
Lombardo earned a spot in the District 2 record book along with her father, Mike Lombardo, and uncle, Joe Brannan. They were on the 3200 relay team, along with Jay Loughney and Bruce Maranchik, for a time of 8:00.84 in 1982 that still stands as the boys record.
“He’s very proud of it,” Lombardo said.
O’Brien threw the javelin 184-9, while Wyoming Area teammate Grove threw 182-1.
Pittson Area’s Giambra went 17-5 ¼ in the girls long jump, two inches longer than Wyoming Area’s Brown, who set a WA aschool record.
Wyoming Area’s Stackhouse was one of three high jumpers to clear 5-3, leading to a tiebreaker in which she finished third. All three tried to tie the district record of 5-5, but missed on each of their three attempts.
Mimnaugh ran 5:07.13 to qualify in the 1600 where Tessa Barrett of Abington Heights and Summer Hill of Honesdale gave District 2 two girls running under five minutes in the same race for the first time ever.
Pittston Area finished sixth in both the boys and girls team standings.
The Lady Patriots scored 52 points. Abington Heights won the team title, 102-93, over Hazleton Area.
The top six finishers in each event earned medals and the top eight picked up points for their team.
Lombardo (800) and Taylor Powers (100) each finished fourth for Pittston Area.
Abby Sheerer (high jump), Olivia Lanza (100 hurdles) and Olivia Giambra (triple jump) placed sixth, along with the 1600 relay team in which Lombardo, Mayers and Mimnaugh were joined by Allie Barber.
Mimnaugh’s day also included a seventh-place finish in the 800. Liz Waleski was also seventh in the 100 hurdles.
Cales Owens took eighth in the high jump. Barber, Jamie Chisdock, Powers and Sierra Williams finished eighth in the 400 relay.
The Wyoming Area girls were ninth with 37 points.
In addition to making it to the state meet with her third-place finish in the long jump, Brown took second in the triple jump.
Stackhouse added another third-place finish in the 100 hurdles.
Both Brown, in the high jump, and Stackhouse, in the long jump, also had a seventh-place finish.
Emily Shemanski was fifth in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles.
The Patriots tied for sixth in the boys team standings with 48 points. Tunkhannock edged Coughlin, 78.5-76, for the title.
In addition to the four titles, Pittston Area got a third-place finish from Colin Tracy in the 300 hurdles and a seventh-place finish from Chuck Poll in the shot put.
Wyoming Area was 14th with 20 points.
O’Brien added another third-place finish in the 200 and placed sixth in the 100.
Bob Burton was eighth in the discus.