Way to go Bryce! (06/03/12)

Straffin 2012 PIAA  AA State Champion in the 400 Meter Dash

Two District 9 Championships in the 400 yard dash. Three appearances in the State Championship Meet (twice in the 400, twice in the 4 x 400 relay, once each in the 200 and 800). A second place finish in the 400 at states last year, with most of the finals field graduated. Expectations were pretty high for Bryce Straffin, entering his senior track season for the Bobcats.

Head Track Coach Ben Bevevino and Bryce Straffin

Head Track Coach Ben Bevevino and Bryce Straffin

Straffin proved to be up to the task. In dual meets, this season, he was undefeated in the 400. He won the 400 and was second in both the 100 and 200, at the City of Hermitage Invitational, and was the Champion in both the 400 and 200 at The Redbank Valley Invitational.

In the District 9 Championships, he ran a blistering 48.15 to win the 400, setting the school and district meet records in the process. He was second   to Sheffield’s Kalil Slaughter, in the  100 and 200.

Then it was off to Shippensburg University, for the PIAA State Championship Meet, in all three events. Joining Straffin, at States, were fellow Bobcats, Tyler Beck, who finished second, at districts, in the 400, and Laken Ganoe, who finished second in the Triple Jump.

There was only one way to top last year’s finish. In Friday’s prelims, Straffin gave an indication of what was to come on Saturday,  as he ran 48.71 for the best time and the top seed in the finals.

In Saturday’s final, Straffin improved on the 48.71, turning in a blazing 48.29 to win the 400 Championship, finishing over one-half second ahead of runner-up, Dustin Fuller of Washington High.

And if winning the 400 wasn’t enough, in itself, Straffin became part of District 9 lore, as he joined Slaughter, who won the 100 and 200. Between these two young men, the District swept the Gold Medals in all three of the Boys Sprints. This is probably the first time D-9 has won all three Dashes, in the same year.

Head Track Coach Ben Bevevino says, “Working with Bryce has been a true honor. Someone with that much talent is something a coach might never get to experience, and I luckily have had him on my team for my first 4 years as a head coach. Besides the amount of talent Bryce has, his determination to become the best and to never lose was probably his greatest asset… To be the 5th fastest 100 runner, the 3rd fastest 200 runner and to be the school record holder in the 400, while breaking his own record at least 6 different times, is truly amazing in a school with as great of tradition in track and field as Clarion.

“Tyler Beck deserves some mention. He has been a state qualifier the last 2 years, in the 400, and has been a District runner up, in  the 400 to Bryce the last 2 years.”

Bryce says, “ Coach A (assistant coach Dan Alderton, who won the AA State  Championship, in the 400, for C.L.,  in 2001) has been pushing me to beat his record for a while now. Last year he made fun of me because his best time was still faster than my 48.8s time. This year I finally beat his time and even set a new record (which he held) at districts. I am ecstatic that I set the D-9 400m dash record and even more excited about my undefeated Sr. year.

“This was the best way for me to end my track career.  I would like to say that I couldn’t have done it without Ben and Coach A, my coaches. These two men are the reason why I had so much fun in track and stuck with it. They know how to make a practice interesting and hilarious”.

“I would also like to thank my mother and the entire community for so strongly supporting me. Ever since I started track in 9th grade, people have noticed my accomplishments and root for me. Knowing there are so many people from my home town, that are thinking of me when I run, I am pushed to do the best I can. Clarion is my home and I am glad I didn’t let them down this year”.

Although they didn’t place, Beck and Ganoe turned in fine performances in the State Track and Field Championships. Beck, in his last race as a Bobcat ran a 52.87 in the 400 Preliminaries, and Ganoe, a sophomore, had a leap of 35-04.5 in the Long Jump.

What a great way for Bryce and Tyler to finish their Bobcat careers and for Laken to finish her season.
Other area medalists include:

Lanae Newsome – Brookville, 1st Place – Girls Triple Jump, with a State Record leap of 40-03.5 (her second straight championship in the event), and 8th – 100 meters.

Ryan Kerr – Brookville, 3rd – Boys Javelin.

Aisha Newsome – Brookville, 4th – Girls 300 hurdles.

Dalton Silvis – North Clarion, 6th – Boys Long Jump.

McKenna Spence – Cranberry, 8th – Girls 800

Abby Jones – Franklin, 2nd – Girls High Jump.