ALTOONA — St. Marys junior Tom Bojalad headlined a strong performance by the Tri-County Area Saturday at the 41st Annual Igloo Invitational at Altoona’s Mansion Park.
Bojalad captured two of the area’s three victories and won both of his events — the shot put and discus — in dominant fashion while breaking meet records set in the 1990s in each in the process.
Elk County Catholic senior Hannah Wittman collected the area’s other win the triple jump, as the area had 23 individuals and five relay teams place in the Top 8. And, all that was accomplished with just three local schools — ECC, St. Marys and Johnsonburg — competing.
Bojalad heaved the shot 55 feet, 7 inches to best second-place finisher Sean Foor of Bedford by 10 feet, 5 inches. Bojalad’s throw bested the meet record off 55-3 set back in 1992.
Bojalad blew away the competition even more in the discus, as his record-setting throw of 178-7 beat second-place finisher Matt Collins of Clearfield (145-0) by 23 feet, 7 inches. The throw also a a foot longer than the old meet record of 177-2 set by Altoona’s Tom Carey in 1999.
Both of Bojalad’s distances Saturday would have earned him bronze medals last year at the PIAA Class AAA Championships. The Dutchman is the defending district champ in both events.
As for Wittman, she highlighted a big day for area girls’ contingent, as 20 of the 28 Top 8 finishes came in the girls event. Wittman lept 35-7 1/4 to win the triple jump by more than a foot over Bishop Guilfoyle’s Preslee Litzinger (34-2 1/4).
Wittman’s performance was part of a strong showing for the Lady Crusaders in the field events. Junior Cassidy Cunningham placed third in the discus (106-3) and fifth in the shot put (33-3), while freshman Maddie Kear was third in the long jump (15-4 1/2).
Senior Mackenzie Gahr and sophomore Samantha Fedus placed fifth (97-1) and sixth (93-5), respectively, in the discus to give ECC three in the Top 8 in that event, and sophomore Alicia Fritz was eighth in the javelin (97-9).
On the track, the Lady Crusaders got fifth-place finishes from juniors Kara Detsch in the 400 (1:06.98) and Lauryn Wortman in the 800 (2:45.96).
The Lady Crusaders’ 4x800 relay squad placed third, while the 4x400 squad was seventh. No names were available for the relay teams.
St. Marys collected a pair of runner-up finished on the girls side from sophomore Amanda Foster and junior Michelle Bauer.
Foster crossed the line second in the 1,600 in 5:42.82, a second behind winner Tori Kocsis of Richland. Bauer posted a time of 11:52.30 to finish just over 13 seconds behind Kiski Area’s Megan Aller in the 3,200.
Sophomore Arianna Kleppinger was fifth in the 200 dash (28.06) and sixth in the 100 finals (13.32), and senior Elle McGowan was seventh in the high jump (4-8). McGowan cleared the fifth-best height but tied for seventh on scratches.
The St. Marys girls’ 4x100 relay squad collected a sixth-place finish, while the 4x800 squad was seventh.
The Johnsonburg girls had two placewinners in junior Caitlin Viglione (3rd 100 dash, 13.13) and freshman Cassidy King (5th long jump, 15-1).
On the boys’ side, Bojalad was joined as placewinners by Dutch teammates Pat Schlimm, Austin Goodrow and Zach Pistner.
Schlimm, a senior, was seventh in the javelin (148-8), while Goodrow (sophomore) and Pistner (junior) were eighth in the 200 dash (25.12) and pole vault (11-0), respectively. Pistner cleared the sixth best height but tied for eighth on scratches.
The Elk County boys’ 4x800 relay squad (9:03.05) finished second to Altoona, while individually sophomore Matthew Dippold was sixth in the 3,200 (10:35.10) and senior Michael Dinsmore seventh in the discus (115-8).