District 3 track and field: Spring Grove's Campbell sets record, Long sweeps distance runs

Dan Sostek
Chambersburg Public Opinion

The PIAA District 3 Track and Field Championships, after a one-year-hiatus due to COVID-19, returned to Shippensburg University this weekend, and plenty of GameTimePA athletes had big performances.

Here's a roundup of some of the highlights from the second and final day of action Saturday at Shippensburg University, which saw a freshman set records and win three golds, a sweep of distance events, and more.

Spring Grove freshman Laila Campbell sprints to the first District 3 gold medal of her high school career in the 3A girls' 100m dash at the PIAA District 3 track and field championships on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Shippensburg University. Campbell finished in 12.00.

Campbell's trifecta

It's very hard to win one District track and field event. Winning two is an even greater accomplishment.

But winning three is rarified air. 

But Spring Grove's Laila Campbell did so on Saturday evening, proving to be a generational talent in District 3 sprints. And she did so as a freshman.

"Just comparing it to basketball, when we won a district medal, there was a lot of hard work going into that," Campbell said, as she also starred on the Spring Grove girls hoops team. "There was a lot of hard work going into this too. Winning three more, it felt good."

Campbell began the day with a dominant victory in the 100M dash, running a time of 12.00 to win by more than half a second. She followed that up with a closer but still strong victory in the 400M, with a time of 56.43 seconds.

But it was her grand finale in the 200M that was the showstopper, setting a District 3 record with a time of 24.11 seconds, beating the previous mark of 24.26 by CD East's Deme'shia Davis in 2012.

This comes on the heels of already setting a York-Adams record during the league meet.

"It feels amazing to accomplish what few can," Campbell said of the record. "It feels good to do what I did today."

No matter how she does moving forward, she still isn't satisfied, noting that until there's a No. 1 next to her name everywhere she's going to keep her head down and work.

"My goal every year is to get faster," Campbell said. "And now, it's just going to push me even more knowing that I hold the record."

As for states, she's not getting ahead of herself. In fact, part of the motivation she finds is the fact that she still has room to move up rankings nationally, despite the strong showings in her freshman year.

"I try not to look too far into [seed times] and just run my race," Campbell said. "This is Pennsylvania. I'm looking at where I'm ranked nationally, and I know I'm not at the top yet. So I'm still humble, and going to keep grinding."

Greencastle-Antrim's Weber Long reacts as he wins the 3A boys' 3200m run at the PIAA District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 21, 2021 at Shippensburg University. Long finished in 9:18.97.

Long goes the distance

The last time District 3 held a track and field championship, Greencastle's Weber Long wasn't even in the stadium.

Then a freshman, with more focus on cross country, Long hadn't even qualified for any long-distance events. And obviously, in 2020, no meet was held.

So to go from that, to finishing 2021 with two District 3 gold medals is quite the accomplishment.

After pulling off an upset, at least based on seed time, on Friday by winning the boys 3A 3200M race, Long went two for two on Saturday, cruising to a near-six second victory in the 1600M.

"I was just in there knowing that all these guys can beat me and they will beat me if they get a chance." Long said. "And I couldn't give him that chance."

Long, who also won the District 3 cross country title in the fall, follows in the footsteps of Greencastle-Antrim alum Taryn Parks, who set the girls 1600M record in the last District championships.

Despite being the No. 2 seed in the 1600M race on Friday, the Blue Devil sophomore felt confident he could come out of Shippensburg with two gold medals draped around his neck.

"The seed times don't mean anything, because they're all in different races," Long said. "So it's really just who can hang with who, and how the strategy played out."

As it turned out, no one could hang with Long this weekend.

Bermudian Springs' Lillian LaBure hurdles her way to a gold medal in 16.30 in the 2A girls' 100m hurdles at the PIAA District 3 track and field championships on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Shippensburg University.

Bermudian hurdles competition

After Lillian LaBure had received her medal and taken photos on the podium after winning the girls 2A 100M hurdle gold, she couldn't help peer over her shoulder. Because her Bermudian Springs teammate Michael Carlson was neck-and-neck in a race for first in the 110M boys iteration of the event.

When the dust cleared, both were 2021 District 3 champs, bringing home top finishes for Bermudian Springs.

"I'm glad I have a teammate with me," LaBure said. "I was hoping he'd make states [too] so I'd have a hurdle buddy. We're helping each other."

LaBure won her event fairly convincingly, topping second place Samathan Lisa of Schuylkill Valley by .4 seconds at 16.3. But she actually went into the weekend without any clear-cut expectations, saying she thinks she even shocked her parents with the win.

"[They're] going to be excited," LaBure said. "I don't think any of us expected this going into Districts. Hopefully they're proud." 

She also took fourth place in the 300 meter hurdles event as well.

While LaBure won by a decent margin, Carlson was in for a fight, topping Trinity's Danny Britten by .09 seconds in a razor-thin race.

"I just kept pushing myself," Carlson said. "[In the race I was] thinking about all the hours I put in. I just told myself I couldn't lose."

He didn't, and now both Carlson and his teammate will return next weekend for states, and will also return next season, as both are underclassmen.

"It's pretty cool," Carlson said. "And I can't wait to see what we bring next year."

A Cedar Surge

Cedar Crest's 4x800 relay team didn't come into Saturday as the top seeded quartet. But it wasn't without good reason.

They hadn't run with each other once this year.

But first time was the charm for the Falcons' group of Luke Hinegardner, Ryan Wolfe, Jayden Heagle and anchor Tommy Bildheiser, as it used a final push to easily cruise to a victory in the race.

"It's definitely special stuff, something like that," Bildheiser said. "It rarely happens. It's like if an NFL team had11 brand new starters out there, and went out and won a big game. So that's kind of amazing,

Bildheiser also brought home gold in the 800M race, topping second place Arik Harnish nearly a second. His relay team member Wolfe took third, both doing so despite a long waiting period after the relay came early in hte day.

"This year our motto was braving adversity," Bildheiser said. "Our coach wrote a book this year about his wife, who tragically died battling cancer. It's something that we [think about] every single meet. You know you're going to have some challenges.

Both Bildheiser and his team will head to states next weekend now, and he's excited he won't be alone.

"I love these guys with all my heart," Bildheiser said. "You know, they're like my brothers, and I can't believe that we're all going together as a team." 

Sand flies as Shippensburg's Spencer Edey competes in the 3A boys' long jump at the PIAA District 3 track and field championships on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Shippensburg University.

Other notes

SHIPPENSBURG: Bolstered by a first-place finish in the high jump by Dakota Arana on Saturday and some strong performances in sprints by Isaiah Houser, the Shippensburg Greyhounds earned enough point to take home the team boys 3A title in their hometown. Yesterday's second and third place finishes in triple jump performances by Jacob Cramer and Spencer Edey also contributed, as did a fourth-place finish by Dalton Foore in shot put. The Greyhounds beat out Palmyra for the top spot.

RED LION: The Red Lion 4 x 100 relay team took gold in a competitive race, as the team of LaDainian Strausbaugh, AJ Virata, Randy Fizer, Jeff Nyamekye and Randy Fizer set a program record with a time of 41.78.

KRISTIAN PHENNICIE, DALLASTOWN: Phennicie just edged out Fizer in a narrow win in the 100M, as he had to look up at the scoreboard to ensure he had come in first, edging out his Red Lion rival by .8 seconds. He then won the 200M event with a bit more of a cushion, topping the opposition by .3 seconds.

JONAH WAREHIME, SPRING GROVE: Campbell wasn't the only Rocket who captured gold on Saturday, as Warehime outdid his seeding to take first place in the boys 3A 300M hurdles competition after beginning the day ranked third. 

RYAN MURPHY, DELONE CATHOLIC: Murphy defended his top seed in the 300M hurdles, earning Delone its lone first-place finish of the championships.

MADELINE LEHKER, SOUTH WESTERN: Lehker surprised by outdoing her seed distance in the high jump with a 5-06.00 to win gold in girls 3A via a tiebreak.

BACK-TO-BACK WINNERS: A handful of winners from Friday earned gold in other events on Saturday, as Littlestown's Dante Elliot won the 2A triple jump, Northern Lebanon's Dylan Lambrecht in the discus and Bermudian Springs' Allison Watts in the triple jump.