Riverview’s Amberson Bauer, Kiski Area’s Eliza Miller lead WPIAL parade of A-K Valley gold medalists

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 | 9:05 PM

Riverview senior Amberson Bauer finished fourth in the Class 2A boys WPIAL cross country championships in November.

On the podium, he looked up at Eden Christian’s Seth Aiken, who won the title.

But on Wednesday at the WPIAL track and field championships at Slippery Rock, it was Aiken up at Bauer.

Seeded second to Aiken in the Class 2A 1,600-meter run, Bauer out-dueled Aiken at the finish to win the WPIAL title in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 21.43 seconds to Aiken’s 4:22.30.

Bauer passed Aiken with about 80 meters to go and held him off at the line.

“Sean is such a great runner, and I knew to beat him was something special,” Bauer said. “I knew going into it that he was the one to beat. I just used the kick that I’ve always had.”

Bauer later won gold in the 800. He was in third place at the halfway point of the race but was able to again use a strong kick to move to the lead. He won with a time of 1:57.33.

“Having run the 1,600, my legs were a little tired, but I know I always am able to find something in my legs and find that second gear to bring it home,” said Bauer, who next will run at the PIAA championships May 26-27 at Shippensburg.

Bauer’s titles were just two of several top performances for Alle-Kiski Valley athletes. The top six in each Class 2A girls event automatically qualified for the state meet. The top five qualified in boys Class 2A, with the top four doing the same for the Class 3A boys and girls.

Others who finished in the top eight earned trips to states if their met a qualifying standard set by the PIAA.

Freeport senior Reese Skiba will compete at states in two events for girls Class 2A with the discus anchoring her successful day. Skiba threw the discus 120 feet, 2 inches, besting the rest of the field by 3 feet for gold. Her previous best this season in the discus was 119-10.

“I came out and threw 117 feet, and it was past the (state qualifying standard), and it felt amazing,” said Skiba, who also will head to states with an automatic sixth in the shot put (34-3). “I came into the meet without much stress on my back. I just wanted to get PRs in both events, and I did that. One of my biggest goals this year was getting to states. I just hit consistent marks throughout the meet. I am so happy.”

Riverview senior Alexandria Bibza earned bronze and a trip to states in the Class 2A girls discus with a best attempt of 116-3. She came in seeded fifth.

Freeport senior Isaac Wetzel began his day with a second-place finish in the Class 2A boys 110 hurdles, earning an automatic bid to states.

He said he was pumped when he saw his 110 time broke 15 seconds (14.96).

Wetzel wanted to go one better when he returned to the track in the 300 hurdles. He was the hunted as the No. 1 seed coming in, and he lived up to that standing as he completed the race with a WPIAL title in a personal-best time of 38.90.

“I thought I raced amazingly well,” Wetzel said. “Going into this 300, I felt really good from (the personal best) in the 110, so I knew I was going to run a good time. It’s great to run a PR, but to finish first at WPIALs is an unbelievable feeling.”

Kiski Area junior Eliza Miller gave the A-K Valley its fourth WPIAL champion as she rose up from her second seed in the Class 3A girls 800 to the title in a personal-best time of 2:14.71.

“This just makes me so happy,” Miller said. “I feel like I have come so far in all of my running events. I got a good start (in the 800), and I had the mindset to finish strong because I knew that all of us would be close together. I really pushed through in that last 400.”

Earlier in the meet, Miller placed sixth in the 1,600 with a time of 5:00.76. It wasn’t a personal best, but it was good enough to snag a time qualification for states.

“It seems like my first events don’t go as well as I want them to,” Miller said. “Maybe I don’t warm up as much as I should. But it definitely gets my heart rate going. (The 1,600) really helped me get focused for the 800.”

The event was fast overall, with the top seven finishers recording times that surpassed the state-qualifying standard of 5:10.

Freeport sophomore Michael Braun returned to WPIALs hoping to win a title, and he was in good position to start, seeded second in the 3,200 with a time of 9:23.83.

Motivated by his Yellowjackets teammates who won before him and his goal of a gold medal, Braun put together a championship race with a personal-best mark of 9:23.64.

He shaved more than 22 seconds from his 3,200 time at WPIALs last year when he took ninth in the Class 3A race.

Fox Chapel junior Anna Troutman came in seeded fourth in the girls 100 hurdles, and she bumped up to third after the prelims. She then ran 15.42 in the finals to hold third place and qualify for states.

“I didn’t like my start, and I started to panic in the middle of the race. But I really focused in on the last couple of hurdles, tried to catch up with the rest of the girls, and just tried to stay steady.”

Troutman suffered a broken ankle last year right before WPIALs and wasn’t able to compete for a trip to states.

“I was really excited to be able to come here this year and do my best and give it my all,” Troutman said.

Also earning bronze medals Wednesday were a trio from Apollo-Ridge: seniors Jake Mull and Jessica Ross and junior Sophia Yard.

Yard earned third in the Class 2A girls high jump with a top attempt of 5-2, and Ross cleared 10-0 in the Class 2A girls pole vault.

Mull qualified for the finals of the Class 2A boys 200 dash. He ran a 22.76 in the finals for third behind champion Dane Asbury from Washington (22.04) and Beaver Falls’ Michael Blackshear (22.54).

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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