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Chalmers Enjoys Status as a Dark Horse Heading Into PIAA Championships, Happy Five of His Teammates at Union/A-C Valley Will Be Joining Him in Shippensburg

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Landon Chalmers was feeling good.

The discus was coming off the junior’s fingers well during practice for the Union/A-C Valley track and field team in the week leading up to the District 9 championships.

But even he didn’t expect what happened in Brookville last Friday.

(Above, Landon Chalmers throws the discus during a meet earlier this season/photo by Lori Blauser)

Chalmers uncorked a throw of 161 feet, 4 inches to earn the lofty perch atop the podium with a gold medal around his neck.

“At first I didn’t realize how far it went,” Chalmers said of his big throw. “I knew it was over 150, but I definitely did not think it was as far as it was.”

For Chalmers, it was another expectation-changing mark.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

He came into the season just hoping to qualify for the district meet after finishing fifth there a season ago.

Not long into the spring, he came to the conclusion he needed to aim higher because his throws were going farther and farther.

He was squaring off seemingly weekly with some of the best throwers in the state, who also happen to be competing in District 9.

One of them is Cam Wagner of Redbank Valley, who Chalmers edged for the D9 title.

Wagner has hit 169-5 this season. He threw 159-1 at the district meet.

Chalmers is seeded third in Class 2A heading into the PIAA Track and Field Championships this weekend in Shippensburg; Wagner is seeded fourth.

Chalmers is just one inch away from the school record, which gives him something else to gun for at the state meet.

It will be his first appearance at the PIAA championships and he’s already preparing himself for the enormity of that meet and the pressure that goes with having to perform on that day against that kind of competition.

He’s a dark horse to win the state title – all it takes is one career-changing throw. Chalmers thinks he is certainly capable of that.

“I’m trying not to be nervous about it,” said Chalmers, who is no stranger to big moments; he is a member of the Union/A-C Valley football team that played in the District 9 Class A title game and is also a standout forward on the A-C Valley basketball team. “I’m just trying to consider it as another meet and fine-tune some of the little things in my technique this week.”

He won’t be alone out in Shippensburg.

(The six members of the Union/A-C Valley track and field team who qualified for the state meet are, from left: Daniella Farkas, Evie Bliss, Baylee Blauser, Landon Chalmers, Hayden Smith and Dawson Camper)

Sophomore Dawson Camper also won a District 9 title in the shot put and will compete in the state meet. Javelin thrower Evie Bliss finished second on the girls side and will also make the trip.

In all, six Union/A-C Valley athletes will compete over the weekend.

Sophomore Hayden Smith is the third seed in the Class 2A high jump, but that’s a bit misleading. He cleared 6 feet, 5 inches at the district meet amid a downpour, but owns the school record at 6-9 this season, which is the best jump in the state by three inches.

Senior Baylee Blauser will compete in three events — the 100-meter dash, long jump and triple jump, where she is seeded first.

Sophomore Daniella Farkas also qualified in the 300-meter hurdles.

The merging this year of the Union and A-C Valley track and field teams has yielded tremendous success.

“Before the co-op, it was just Baylee Blauser going from our school,” Chalmers said. “With six of us going this year and three being throwers, it’s really gonna calm us all down just knowing our teammates are there watching us, and we’re watching them and supporting each other the whole way through.”

Like Chalmers, Smith is focused on keeping everything the same this week.

Same routine. Same schedule. Nothing added. Nothing magnified.

“Just take small repetition jumps around 5-11 and take two or three jumps at 6-3,” Smith said. “I have a routine every day. Do that. Box jumps. Circle runs. Pop ups. Everything. Just repetition. Get the reps for states.”

Bliss is seeded fourth in the girls javelin throw. Punxsutawney’s Mary Grusky, who edged Bliss for the D9 title, is seeded second.

The school record is 142-7 and Bliss will take a shot at that mark.

Bliss is also no stranger to the big stage. As an independent swimmer competing for Union this winter, she won District 9 titles in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.

“We’re all really excited to see what we can do,” Chalmers said.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.