UNIVERSITY PARK - Taking a two-mile run on a dreary, cold Saturday afternoon in late February doesn't sound like much fun.
But, change the circumstances and it could be a thrill of a lifetime.
Mifflin County's ace long-distance runner, Jon Colwell, got that thrill on Saturday as he finished sixth in the 3,000-meter run at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association indoor track and field state championships. The meet was held at the Horace Ashenfelter III indoor track complex on the Penn State campus.
Colwell complete the 15-lap run in 8:40.53. He was the only Husky to earn a medal; the first eight places receive awards.
Winning the race was Max Norris of Harrington with a time of 8:28. Harrington was in second place most of the race, but his great finish at the end of the run won him the state title.
Finishing between Norris and Colewell were Ethan Martin (8:42.5), Fox Chapel; Dan Savage (8:39.6), Philaelphia Cardinal O'Hara; Conner Quinn (8:40.2), Hatboro Horsham; and Brendan Shearn (8:40.53), North Schuylkill.
The race started off at a fast pace and was led most of the way by Tony Russell of West Chester Henderson, who ran away with the PIAA Class AAA cross country title in November. It marked his second race of the day as he also ran in the mile and placed.
Russell led for most of the race, but faded over the last two laps and finished ninth of the 20 runners in the race.
Colwell, a senior, stayed with the front group and was in fourth place most of the run until the last two laps, when he was out kicked by three runners.
"I didn't want to let the front group get too far ahead because I knew it would be hard to get back up," Colwell said, "The plan was to stay up front with the first group. But the start (of the race) was a lot faster than I thought it would be. I had to kick really hard to keep my place in the medals."
The Mifflin County track and field coach, Scott Gantz, was especially pleased with his senior's long distance effort.
"Anytime that you get a medal in a state meet, it's a great feat," Gantz said, "He has done his family proud and the school proud. He's a great leader of our distance group."
The time was Colwell's fastest of the winter indoor season. Colwell had an 8:45.99 coming into the state meet. His time on Saturday was a school record and a personal best.
But, it wasn't the only school record set on Saturday.
Nate Baumgardner, a junior, ran an 8.56 in the 60-meter hurdles. His time was tied for 18th best.
"Nate got a taste of being in an individual event in a state meet today," Gantz said. "This was his best time of the season and he also set an indoor record for the school. He is ready to go for the outdoor season this spring and we are looking forward to having him back next year."
Baumgardner's best time of the season coming in was 8.64 seconds.
The 4x200 relay team finished second in its heat, losing to Malvern Prep of Philadelphia and beating Central Bucks South.
The four sprinters for the Huskies were Ian McGinnis, a senior; Michael Kline, a senior; Kyron Carrington, a junior; and Tim Beck, a senior.
McGinnis, Kline, Carrington and Beck combined for a 1:33.02, the fastest time of the season for Mifflin County. It was good enough for 22nd out of 29 teams.
"I was really pleased with the relay," Gantz said. "It was their best time of the year and also set a new school record."
Mifflin County's best time coming into the state meet was 1:33.34.
"I couldn't ask for anything more of our team," Gantz said. "They all got personal bests, set school records and Jon got a medal."
Notes: Malvern Prep and other schools from the Philadelphia Inter-Ac League do not compete in the PIAA, which recognizes but does not operate this championship event. A school is eligible to enter if its coach is a member of the PTFCA. ... Mifflin County's chief rivals in District 6 Class AAA, Altoona and State College, also had participants at the meet. Altoona had six individuals and two relay teams, while State College had four indivduals and one relay team. ... From the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division, Cumberland Valley had one individual and one relay team, as did Central Dauphin East. Chambersburg had one individual.