Riverview’s Amberson Bauer runs away with 800 title at PIAA championships

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Saturday, May 27, 2023 | 7:14 PM


Amberson Bauer prepares for track meets with some visualization, running each stage of a race through his head with mental reps.

For a year, he often has thought about Seth Grove Stadium.

“Just lying in bed before I go to sleep, I have a lot of time to me and myself,” said the Riverview senior. “I think about how I get out, how that first 200 (meters) looks, how going through 400 looks and how I use the backstretch to win.”

In his head, he always wins.

Yet, what he couldn’t have envisioned was how big his lead would be Saturday as he sprinted toward the finish line. Bauer pulled away from the field and won the boys 800-meter title by more than a second at the PIAA Class 2A track championships in Shippensburg.

Consider, the gap between second and fifth was only six-tenths of a second. Deer Lakes had two runners on the 800-meter medal stand: Aidan Herman (fifth) and Zach Kruse (seventh).

“I knew there were some other good guys in this race, so I didn’t know how it was going to go,” Bauer said, “but it came out the way I wanted.”

Bauer won in 1 minute, 54.93 seconds.

His fixation on Shippensburg started here a year ago when he placed third at the state championships in the 800. The two runners who finished ahead of him both graduated, so he saw this year as his time to win.

Bauer won the 800- and 1,600-meter titles last week at WPIALs, but the state championship was his ultimate goal.

“Ever since I stepped off the track last year, I was thinking about it,” he said. “Even through cross country season, I’m more of a track guy, just thinking about track season starting. Working on my times, getting my times lower and eventually getting back here and doing it all again — but this time getting first.”

Bauer was one of eight WPIAL athletes to win a gold medal this weekend, a list that included double-winner Jolena Quarzo (girls 1,600 and 3,200) of Brownsville.

The others were Hempfield’s Liz Tapper (girls shot put) and Peyton Murray (boys discus), Hampton’s Dale Hall (boys 1,600), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart’s Antonio Votour (boys 110 hurdles), Mt. Lebanon’s Logan St. John Kletter (girls 3,200) and Waynesburg’s Andrew Layton (boys pole vault).

Freeport hurdler Isaac Wetzel was only about a step or two away from joining that list. The senior placed second in the 300-meter hurdles for 2A boys after tumbling over the finish line.

He crossed in 38.25 seconds, six-hundredths of a second behind winner Levi Prementine of Slippery Rock. Prementine also tumbled across the line.

“I thought I raced him the best race that I could,” Wetzel said. “It just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

Wetzel said he was pleased to leave Shippensburg with two state medals after placing seventh in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.11 seconds.

“Overall, it was good,” he said. “It wasn’t the result I wanted. I wanted first, but that didn’t happen.”

Among others who placed at states, WPIAL champion Eliza Miller of Kiski Area was fifth in the 800 meters for 3A girls. Miller, a junior, ran a personal-best 2:10.90 on Saturday, which was nearly four seconds better than her WPIAL-winning time.

Freeport’s Michael Braun, the WPIAL 2A champion in the boys 3,200, finished 10th at states (9:26.79).

Freeport teammate Reese Skiba placed 12th in the shot put, a day after finishing fifth in discus.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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