Franklin Regional athletes ready to make noise at WPIAL meet

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Friday, May 11, 2018 | 11:00 PM


Pull up beside a large bus at a red light in Murrysville and hear loud music exploding out of the windows, that's no party bus. That just happens to be the Franklin Regional track and field team celebrating another victory.

“It's loud, and we're jamming out to some tunes,” senior jumper Jacob Shedd said. “The common genre is rap and some '70's rock and roll.”

The Panthers had the team amplifier turned all the way up again a few Fridays ago coming out of the Pine-Richland Invitational where both the boys and girls teams finished second to talented Butler teams.

“They were real excited to win a section title, but they had a goal of winning the Pine-Richland Invitational,” Franklin Regional coach Bob Ralston said. “There were a lot of medals won.”

With both teams accomplishing primary goals of finishing atop Section 5-3A standings, the Pine-Richland Invitational served as the final act to the team portion of the season and the perfect segue to Thursday's WPIAL Class AAA individual championships at Baldwin. The top four in each event, in addition to those who hit the state standard, will move on the PIAA championships scheduled for May 25-26 at Shippensburg.

“They're feeling confident, and they're focused,” Ralston said. “This time of year is great, and now we're down to just the WPIAL athletes.”

Feeling the most confident is Shedd. After finishing second at the WPIAL meet last year, Shedd came into the season ranked as the No. 1 triple jumper in the WPIAL. He didn't disappoint. The Mount Union football and track commit held the ranking all season and turned in the WPIAL's top jump this year at 45 feet, 5 inches.

“His coach, Ryan Miller, has put a lot of time in with Shedd,” Ralston said. “There's just serious business going on at the jump pits. He's jumping better every time he does it.”

Shedd earned field MVP honors at Pine-Richland. He broke a Franklin Regional and invitational record in the long jump (23-8).

“I looked at this season and wanted to break records and get my name upon that (records) board,” Shedd said. “This year, I wanted to go out and do the best that I could.”

Other boys to look out for are Matt Busche in the 800 meters and Jaden Seman in the pole vault. Busche turned in the fourth best time in the 800 this season at 1 minute, 57.52 seconds, and according to Ralston, Busche is cutting time with every race. Seman is seeded eighth in the pole vault with personal-best height of 13-7.

All eyes also will be on the Panthers 400 boys relay team, where Tyrese Kohlman, Zach Gordan, Colton Johns and Hayden Deller have the potential to earn a trip to Shippensburg.

“We have four fast guys, and if they can get their handoffs perfect like they do in practice, who knows?” Ralston said. “We still haven't had a perfect run yet.”

On the girls side, senior Sterling Simek, an Indiana Wesleyan commit, turned in the fifth-best time in the 800 (2:19.06).

“She knows that she can run with the top girls,” Ralston said.

Back in the jump pits, Miller is turning out another quality jumper in Rayna Tordero. She is seeded second in the triple jump (37-5) and will get a shot at the long jump.

“It's amazing to watch (Tordero) glide through the air,” Ralston said. “She's just got a lot of spring in her legs, and she just glides for a long time.”

For Shedd, the WPIAL championships is his last chance to carry his tune, and amplifier, all the way to Shippensburg for a medal.

“The goal is to leave a record out there this year that no one will ever get again,” he said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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