Riverview track champion Amberson Bauer selected Valley News Dispatch Boys Athlete of the Year

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Saturday, July 1, 2023 | 6:47 PM


Amberson Bauer’s high school distance running career wasn’t entirely complete once he left Seth Grove Stadium at Shippensburg University as the PIAA Class 2A boys 800-meter champion May 27.

The recent Riverview graduate’s season-best time in the 800-meter run — 1 minute, 53.22 seconds — qualified him to run the event at the New Balance Nationals on June 18 at the historic Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Bauer celebrated the opportunity to extend his season with a career-best 1:52.68 to place 35th overall in the championship 800 race.

“It was a really cool experience getting a chance to compete against all of the top guys from around the country and be able to run fast with them,” said Bauer, who also won titles in the 800 and 1,600 at the WPIAL championships May 17 at Slippery Rock.

“It was a big meet that always has a lot of hype around it.”

Bauer’s run at New Balance nationals capped his standout senior year which included a trip to the PIAA cross country championships, an all-star selection in basketball, and the aforementioned WPIAL and PIAA track and field titles.

For his accomplishments in the field of competition, Bauer has been selected the Valley News Dispatch Boys Athlete of the Year.

He stood out among a competitive and accomplished group that included Highlands’ Chandler Thimons, Deer Lakes’ Bryce Robson, Kiski Area’s Anders Bordoy, Burrell’s Cooper Hornack and Leechburg’s Braylan Lovelace.

Bauer shared the third heat in the New Balance 800 with Moon senior Jacob Puhalla, a Louisville commit and the WPIAL Class 3A champion and PIAA runner-up.

Puhalla finished 31st overall with a time of 1:52.50.

“That was pretty cool. It was nice to be able to run against him again before we head off to college,” said Bauer, who will run at William & Mary.

“He barely got me this time.”

Bauer said he wasn’t expecting a whole lot from his race at New Balance Nationals.

“I told my coaches that I was kind of in summer mode. It was three weeks after states, and I was kind of getting ready for my break,” he said.

“I went there, and a lot of the guys kind of pulled me along. Also, the adrenaline to run on that track, the crowd, the announcers, the music all really helped, too. It was just about enjoying the moment, getting out fast and running fast.”

Bauer finished at or near the top of his races at several cross country and track and field invitationals.

He took fourth overall in the WPIAL Class A boys cross country championship race at Cal (Pa.)’s Roadman Park, checking in with a time of 17:11.2.

“I was kind of battling a hip injury the week before (WPIALs), so I didn’t run a lot heading into the race,” Bauer said.

“Going in, I was a little nervous and I didn’t feel my best, but I still ran a pretty good race. The hill was brutal, but I used my kick at the end and brought it home.”

Bauer went on to take 21st at the PIAA championships in Hershey.

He was just as pleased to be a part of a trip to states involving both the Riverview boys and girls teams for the first time since 2018.

“Both teams had worked hard many hours to build up to that moment,” Bauer said. “It was a special feeling to have both teams share the state-meet experience.”

Bauer transitioned to the winter season and excelled on the court for the Raiders basketball team. He led the team in scoring at 15.6 points a game and was a Section 3-2A all-star selection.

Riverview had high hopes for a WPIAL playoff spot, but several close losses contributed to the team missing out by one game in the section standings.

“We started off super strong and then lost a couple of close games that were pretty frustrating,” Bauer said.

“It was just a matter of a couple of plays and a couple of points. But we had a couple of really nice wins, and I feel we continued to set a standard for the program. It sets the stage for the next few years to be successful.”

Bauer was no stranger to winning a WPIAL track and field title as he was a part of the gold-medal winning boys 3,200 relay as a sophomore.

This time around, individual wins were on his mind.

And he accomplished his goals with the titles in both the 1,600 and 800.

“I was really focused on the mile at WPIALs. That’s where my head was,” Bauer said. “I was ranked second with (Eden Christian’s) Sean (Aiken), a really good runner, ahead of me. That was a competitive race.

“And I knew I could come back and run a fast 800. The 1,600 definitely boosted me and put my mind in the right spot to go after it in the 800 about two hours later.”

Bauer was highly seeded in both events at the PIAA meet.

“It was a great feeling to be able to run two individual events at states,” said Bauer, who started his state competition with a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 meters (4:17.05) on Day 1.

Bauer ran his state 800 in a time of 1:54.93. It was the only time under 1:55 in the Class 2A field, and he won by more than a second.

Bauer was third last year behind Deer Lakes’ Carson McCoy and Schuylkill Valley’s Luke Seymour.

“Both (PIAA races) were special, but the 800; winning that was on my mind for all of the past year,” he said.

“I built up throughout the season to run fast at states. It was an amazing feeling to share this with my teammates, my family, and my coaches.”

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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