SHIPPENSBURG - Back in Altoona, during the District 6 Class AAA track and field meet, Indian Valley graduate Laura Loht was sporting her Big Ten gold medal.
Loht, a javelin thrower, was a symbol of that school's success in track, which was dominated by the girls team over the past few years, with two state golds.
This year? It's the boys' turn to shine - and they are bright like the sun. Of the 13 Mifflin County athletes who will take part in the PIAA championships, which begin Friday at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium, nine are boys. Along with a relay team are five individuals competing in seven events.
The girls have a relay in the race, too, a surprisingly low turnout for the gender, but part of what coach Scott Gantz said may well be a record from the county to advance this far.
"As far as I know it's probably the biggest," he said. "Our goal at the onset of the season, as I've said again and again, is to get as many kids to the state meet as we possibly can. This has exceeded by far any expectations that we could have imagined."
It was good and bad news for the girls in the 4x800 relay. At districts, the quartet that has set several records and went to states last year ran a time good enough to do it again. But none of the girls advanced individually - a shock for Marissa Long, who has twice run in outdoor and indoor states, medaling once in each.
"What a great group of girls they are - they come ready to work every day," Gantz said. "Nobody had any idea of the way things would turn out, but thankfully they got through."
The boys 4x100 relay has overcome adversity and change, Gantz said, also breaking new ground along the way.
"(They got a) new county record, actually, wiping out one of the records that (assistant) coach Scot Sechler had a little bit of a vested interest in," he said. "If there's a group that's probably the most excited about making the trip to states, it's that crew right there."
And that might be because they haven't been a group all season.
"The kids have been mismatched all year," Gantz said. "The four that we had in there at districts really performed well."
A duo on the track is led by Zach Moon, making his fifth overall appearance in a state running event, including cross country and indoor, where he medaled this past winter in the 800. Last year, he was running the mile when he went to states.
"I think Zach feels a little bit more comfortable in the 800," Gantz said. "Zach's a kid who could do anything for us that we ask him to from the 100 meters to the 3,200. He's got great foot speed, he's got great endurance, great strength.
"It was up to him as to what events he wanted to try and qualify for at the state meet. He chose to focus on the 800. We're going to give it a run and see if he can pull the double in his senior year."
Jon Colwell will run the 1,600 this year, after spending most of the season on the bench with an injury. Gantz said that's to his advantage.
"He's set in a pretty position right now - he's got his base built back up to where he probably needs to have it, plus he doesn't have the wear and tear in his legs that some of these other kids have," the coach said. "He had a great performance up at Altoona. We're just looking forward to maybe topping that."
In the field, the Huskies had the best of their day at districts - three gold medals and two silvers - among a trio that will compete in five events over the two days.
An unexpected surprise was Cole Welham, the former baseball star who won the district title in the javelin, and has thrown farther than he did that day.
"He's gone 179," Gantz notes, which is just shy of last year's medal class. "If he can put another six to 10 feet on his throws, he's going to have an opportunity to stand on the podium and get a state medal.
"He's one of these kids now that maybe wishes he would have thought about track and field a little bit earlier."
Jake Shepherd won the long jump and finished second in the high jump; Harry Lowber was behind Shepherd in the first and took his own gold in the triple jump. Shepherd has been mainly a high jumper but Gantz said that has changed this year.
"Jake has been progressively getting better for us in the long and the triple this year. After a performance like he had (at districts) in the long jump he has the opportunity to go to Shippensburg and possible medal in two events," Gantz said.
Both of his events are on Saturday, with the high jump first.
"I think that's going to be a big plus for him," Gantz said. "It's going to help him focus a little bit more on the high jump."
Lowber is at least questionable after getting hurt late in the campaign and again at districts, but Gantz said the goal is to go in both.
"If he can go, I'm sure he will," Gantz said. "It was one of those things you hate to see happen, but it happened so we have to deal with it."