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Triple wins for Union/ACV

Bliss, Chalmers, Smith claim PIAA gold

SHIPPENSBURG — Evie Bliss arrived at the PIAA Track and Field Championships with the goal of breaking the program's record in the girls javelin. She achieved more — a lot more.

The Union/A-C Valley senior's heave of 170 feet, two inches earned her first place in Class 2A with a state-record distance, breaking the previous standard of 167-2 set 15 years ago by Lakeview's Fawn Miller.

Bliss' winning effort came on her very first throw.

"I had only two warm-up throws and wasn't really concerned with distance, just focused on my technique and form," said Bliss. "When I hit 170, I could tell it was a good throw right when it left my hand. Then I looked up and it still hadn't landed."

Bliss placed second here last year, but her first throw at states as a junior went a mere 67 feet.

"To go from that to this, I feel like a completely different person. It's incredible!," she exclaimed.

The Falcon Knights met with more success on the boys side. Senior Landon Chalmers won the discus (171-5) while junior Hayden Smith jumped 6-8 to win his second straight PIAA crown in the high jump.

"I competed here last year and did not do well," said Chalmers, who placed second in the event in District 9 last week. "I was bummed about that and wanted to prove myself as one of the best throwers in the state and I did that."

His best effort in his first four attempts was 161-9.

"The competition was a lot better this year," Chalmers said. "The top (seven) were all above 160. I felt I had 170 in me and just let it fly."

Smith has been dealing with a sore right ankle since basketball season and said that it's affecting his consistency. That's a relative term, however, especially for someone who has previously gone over 6-10 in the high jump.

After sealing the win Friday — Annville-Cleona's Noah Gunderson was second at 6-5 — Smith took several cracks at 6-11 before accepting his first-place medal at 6-8.

"With a height like 6-11, I just have to be patient and it will come," he said. "I felt good today and am so happy right now."

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