SELINSGROVE - David Brantley needed a lift after finishing third in the 110-meter hurdles final in the District 4 Class AA track and field championships Saturday.
Brantley crossed the line in 15.42 second, just 7/100s away from the state qualifying standard time that would have given him a spot in the field at states - especially disappointing because he had run below the standard more than once this season.
Across the field at Susquehanna University's Lopardo Stadium, he still seemed low in spirits despite a 41-foot, 7-inch triple jump that was a two-foot improvement over his previous best and catapulted him into fourth place in an event he wasn't even seeded to place in.
Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
East Juniata’s David Brantley, center, clears a hurdle during the 110-meter hurdles at the District 4 Class AA track and field championships Saturday at Susquehanna University. The event, in which Brantley landed third, was one of four in which he medaled.
With, realistically, one good chance left to get to Shippensburg, this was no time to be in the doldrums. Thankfully, someone was at the meet who knows what it takes to get to states, and she got him ready to run.
"Coach Brotzman's daughter that just graduated from Ship gave me a really good pep talk," he said. "She's the one who did more for me than I did."
Sarah Brotzman, who twice climbed the state medal stand, reminded Brantley after he missed time in the first hurdle race - and when it became obvious he wasn't going to get through the in triple - that the only thing he should be focusing on was the race he was seeded first in.
"The 100s did get me a little down. I wasn't aiming for much of a goal in the triple jump. Once I realized how well I did, it cheered me up a little bit but I was still a little down," he said. "After some good pep talks from the coaches I realized I did still have the 300 hurdles left."
He didn't have to beat Troy's Josh Purcell, seeded second by 1/100th of a second. He didn't necessarily need the state time that he, Purcell and a third runner had accomplished earlier in the season - second place would advance him.
But he wasn't taking any chances. And it's a good thing - Southern Columbia's Luke Rarig, two lanes over, provided the bigger challenge.
"(Purcell) was the one I had the corner of my eye on, that's the one I was aiming for at the start of the race. I realized once I came around the turn I couldn't see anything in my peripheral vision so I just wanted to get to the finish line as fast as I could," Brantley said. "I tried to kick as much as I could. I realized toward the end how close the outside guy was.
"I was pretty confident I made state qualifying time. But the gold medal makes it even that much better. That's what I was really going for."
Brantley finished the day with four medals - he placed fourth in the long jump as well as the triple - and was the only East Juniata or Midd-West athlete to qualify for states. Both schools had several placewinners.
He's the second member of his family to compete at the state level this year - brother Sean Heggs went to the PIAA wrestling championships in March.
"I can just watch and learn from his last two years in wrestling," Brantley said. "It was just going to watch him, seeing the composure you need. It's going to be a lot of competition. I'm excited for it."