York High's Deshaun Horton began competing in the triple jump for the first time last year.
A neophyte when the outdoor season opened in April, the Bearcats' senior became a champion just one month later.
"It was a shock," Horton said, describing his reaction after winning the gold medal in the event at the 2014 York-Adams Track and Field Championships. He also delivered the best performance in the long jump on the same night. "Everyone was six feet (tall) and I was the underdog (Horton is 5-6)."
Horton is quick to give credit to two former Bearcats, who helped him make the huge leap from beginner to gold medalist in such a short time. Jarred Posey, a 2012 York High graduate, supplied the inspiration, and Isaiah Ritter, a 2014 graduate, provided the instruction. Horton remembers watching Posey compete three years ago when he was in ninth grade.
"He was a great jumper, and I really wanted to be as good as he was. He came here during indoor season and helped me," Horton said. "Isaiah Ritter, he taught me the triple jump."
Horton's best jump last year was 42 feet, 5 inches. This year, he's gone more than two feet farther (44-6).
"My first phase (hop) got way better. I want to go at least 22 feet (in the long jump) and 44 feet (in the triple jump) at the league meet," Horton said.
Horton knows he won't be able to take anyone by surprise at this year's meet, which begins at 3:45 p.m. Friday at Dallastown High School.
"It feels like I got a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I'm small (compared to the other jumpers), but I've been able to push myself mentally and achieve my goals," Horton said.
Anderson: Horton, who will head to the Midwest for college (University of Northern Iowa), also runs the leadoff leg on the Bearcats' 400 relay team. Teammate Larell Anderson handles the anchor leg on the same relay, along with being one of the league's elite athletes in the 300 hurdles.
Dallastown's Owen Ritter took the silver medal and Anderson grabbed the bronze medal in last year's 300 hurdles. The gold medalist, Dallastown's Adrian Jackson, graduated.
"I would like to hit (a time of) 39 flat (Friday) night, and I'm aiming for the county championship," Anderson said. "I feel Moyer (Andrew Moyer of West York) and Ritter will be two of my top competitors."
Anderson balances his athletic pursuit with academics and a host of extra-curricular activities. He plays the cello (first chair), has a part in this year's play (Aida) and works a part-time job (currently eight hours).
"I get my studies done at night," said Anderson, who plans to attend California University of Pennsylvania.
Defending champs: In addition to Horton, defending champions who are back in the boys' portion of the championships are: Moyer (110 hurdles) and Ethan Gatchell of Red Lion (800).
On the girls' side, South Western star Lynne Mooradian is back after sweeping the 100, 200 and 400 last year as a sophomore.
Another junior, York Suburban's Olivia Gettle, will seek to win the 3,200 run for the third straight year. Gettle also captured the 1,600 run in 2014, but she's not entered in the 1,600 this year. Red Lion standout Angelica Gonzalez captured the long jump title last year, but she won't be jumping this year. Instead, Gonzalez, who earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to East Carolina University, will be on the track in the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.