When Central York's Jay Stone explodes off the starting line at this weekend's PIAA State and Track Field Championships, he'll feed off the roar of the large crowd all the way to the finish line.
"I know they're not all rooting for me, but hearing that crowd makes me go faster," Stone said. "It's really neat running before so many people."
No one went faster than Stone in the Boys' Class AAA 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles at last weekend's District 3 championships. The event took place at the same place where the state meet will be held: Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium.
The 5-foot, 7-inch sophomore isn't a prototype, long-and-lean hurdler, but that doesn't prevent him from excelling at both events.
"I'll be standing there, and there goes another 6-3 guy (walking by)," Stone said. "That just makes me think 'attack, attack, attack.'"
Watching a determined Stone attack the hurdles, it's hard to imagine that there was a time he didn't want to have anything to do with the event, at least the 300 part of it.
"The first time I looked at the 300, I thought 'I don't want to do this. I don't want to run all the way around the track.' The first time, I did it, I fell, but I got up and finished third."
Stone, who began his track-and-field career in middle school as a sprinter and long jumper, changed his mind about the 300 hurdles and decided to take up the challenge of the event, along with the 110.
His reward: a school-record time of 38.55 seconds in the 300 at the district meet. He won the 110 in :14.76.
Stone smiles when he thinks about his time on the first occasion he competed in the 300 hurdles.
"I went 49, and I knew the school record was 39 something. I was thinking 'how am I ever going to get close to that time.'"
Stone found a way to get there. Now, he's looking to improve on his record.
"I would like to get under 38 (at states) in the 300 and I want to make the semifinals of the 110. I know they have heats in the 300, and that's something new for me."
The diminutive Stone displays the confidence that's part of the DNA of most successful athletes, but not a cockiness. He's justifiably proud of what he accomplished at districts, but also realizes the competition that lies ahead.
"There will be some outstanding competition up there," he said. "I'll need to get my rest and be prepared physically as well as mentally."
Stone enters as the No. 6 seed in 300 and the No. 8 seed in the 110.
Gonzalez, Lundy each seeded No. 2: Another Central athlete, Megan Lundy, and a Red Lion athlete, Angelica Gonzalez, are the highest-seeded York-Adams competitors heading into the state meet.
Both are seeded second in their particular events: Lundy, in the Girls' Class AAA 400 dash, and Gonzalez, in the Girls' Class AAA 200 dash.
Lundy, who earned a state medal in the 400 last year with a sixth-place finish, holds a time of :55.64 this year. Kenya Woodall of Coatesville, the runner-up in the 400 last year, owns the top seed at :54.06. Lundy, a senior, will be continue her running career next year at Seth Grove Stadium as a member of the Shippensburg University women's track and field team.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, is just a freshman. She'll bid to cap an amazing debut season with state medals in the 200 and 100, where she's seeded fifth.
Her time of :24.27 in the 200 is just one-hundredth of a second behind District 3 champion Deme'shia Davis of Central Dauphin East. Davis won the bronze medal in the 200 at last year's state meet. The two sprinters who finished ahead of her, Iman Wilkerson of Penn Hills and Lydia Ali of Radnor, were seniors.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org or at 505-5407.