Shippensburg U. – Predicted thunderstorms never happened and pre-meet predictions seemed to follow suit. After finishing 6th for 800M at Districts (1:54.48 outdoor PR) and ranked 14th going in, Grayson Ruffner had an uphill battle ahead. A crowded field of 15 left no room for error. He managed to stay up in the lead pack and found himself in fourth heading into the backstretch of lap 2 maintaining that position through the finish. His time of 1:52.00 is a PR by 1.6 seconds and ranks #3 Wiss All-Time. He also finished ahead of all five guys who beat him at Districts a week ago.                                                     

Gray’s 1600M on Friday morning kind of went as predicted. Hitting 4:17.25, close to his PR, only got him 20th! With the winner setting an all-time PA best and a National Federation Record of 3:57.08, it took 4:10 to medal. One of the strongest mile fields ever at the state meet. (Our own Nick Crits’ winning time of 4:11.69 back in 2008 wouldn’t have gotten him on the medal stand!)

Another pre-meet prediction got flipped as Dom Sheppard had been ranked in the top 5 for 300 hurdles in PA all season. He managed to just sneak into the finals as no one seemed to run well in the pre-lims. Running from lane 1, he had problems over every hurdle and crossed the line in 8th in 39.52 (His best of 37.95 would have earned him silver.) But a medal is a medal and he’ll be back.                                             

The Friday afternoon 4×4 pre-lims were brutal. Running in heat 4 of 4, we watched team after team drop HUGE season bests in the heats before us. (Some dropping times by 2 and 3 seconds.) Our 3:20.81, although not a bad time (3:20.97, 3:20.55 last two weeks), keeping status-quo wouldn’t cut it here. 12th place and out of it.  (Jonah Sydney 50.75, Dom 50.87, Johnson 49.90, Ruffner 49.11)                                     

Prolog: Now the ‘ups and downs’. At Districts last week, things broke for us. Grayson making it in two events, Dom winning ugly at 300H and the 4×4 placing 5th from the slow heat due to some poor running by some of the better teams in the hot heat. 

During the meet, news was floated that District One had been shut out of dorm space at Ship. Coaches were left scrambling for accommodations. The evening had me emailing Ship U. housing. Overbooked with alternates, spectators and hand-holders. Finally, after repeated ‘refreshes’ on the web site, we got in as teams bailed after not qualifying. (I almost had us booked at an Air B&B farmhouse outside Shippensburg.) 

Next up, transportation. With only seven of us going, I was driving a van. One of the brand new ones, I was promised! I walk into the bus office and I could tell by her face there was a problem. “I’m here for our van.” “That’s for tomorrow, right?” WTF! (And that doesn’t stand for Wissahickon Track and Field). So, now I’m stuck with the oldest beat up van on the lot. Good thing there were only 7 of us as the back row of seats were missing. 

The dorms were not good. Hard plastic mattresses, had to bring sheets and pillows for the first time which resulted in trips to Walmart for pillows, low water pressure and the kicker was having to be out by 11 AM on Saturday! That meant clearing out the rooms and loading up the van before heading to the track (And then riding home hot and sweaty with no shower after being out in the heat all day.)

The kids had mixed emotions on the way home as Grayson finished his season on a high with his 4th place PR 800 and Dom was disappointed with himself for his 8th in the hurdles but said he was excited for next season. By the time we pulled into Wissahickon they were all smiles. “The season’s finally over!” yelled Dom as he got out of the van. Now he knows how I feel. I stashed the tent and tarps at school, dropped off two of the kids at their houses and headed to the bus garage where I proceeded to accidently lock my luggage in the back of the van with the keys still inside. Perfect. Next morning I had to call Transportation to come get my bags out. 

Side bar for the adults: Who knew there were so many hidden gem watering holes in Ship. Back in the day, it was Wib’s college bar because we could walk to it from campus. Then we found Arooga’s sports bar which kept us entertained for a few years. Planning on trying the Ship Inn, we went down an alley looking for parking, ended up on the back streets of town and ran into Maxie’s Micro Brewery. Family atmosphere with karaoke! (Some gutsy little10yr old girl belting out Alanis Morrisett) Had a bite there and the barkeep told us about The Creekside Inn. Might as well check it out. Surprisingly inexpensive and a live band! (For those wondering about supervising the kids, we head out around 7 and we’re back at the dorms by 9:15 with light out at 11. Kids were in their rooms before we were!)


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