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D9 Track and Field Championships

GRAND SLAM: Union/A-C Valley Senior Hayden Smith Wins Fourth Straight D9 Title in the High Jump

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Hayden Smith wasn’t trying to do too much on a rainy afternoon and with a sore heel and shin.

Just win. His only goal.

The Union/A-C Valley senior cleared 6 feet, 5 inches in the high jump to do just that, claiming the gold in the event for the fourth consecutive year at the District 9 Class 2A Track and Field Championships at Brookville High School on Friday.

(Pictured above, Hayden Smith)

“It’s awesome,” he said. “If it wasn’t for all the coaches, I wouldn’t have a fourth one. It’s just awesome to think about that. We combined (Union and A-C Valley) and it gave everyone a great opportunity.”

Including Smith, a Union senior.

His biggest influence in the event has been Dave Sherman, a volunteer coach and the former athletic director at A-C Valley.

Sherman has helped Smith fine-tune every aspect of his jumping.

It has paid off. Big time.

Smith cleared 7 feet in a meet earlier this season and will chase his third straight PIAA championship next weekend in Shippensburg.

“I love how these coaches came together,” Smith said. “They care about us. They gave us so much opportunity and we’ve become a great team.”

Smith realized quickly on Friday that it was all about survival and just getting that title, no matter what height it took.

Overcoming adversity is nothing new for Smith, who had to borrow the shoes of teammate Evie Bliss’ father two years ago at the state meet to compete indoors and win the high jump, and last year baked under an unrelenting sun after the umbrella he used for shade inverted and broke.

“You can think you are prepared for anything,” he said, grinning, “but then things might throw something different and unexpected at you. You have to keep your focus.”

Smith had to jump in a driving rain on Friday.

“It’s really hard when you’re sitting back there, getting ready to do your approach, and you look and see a big puddle in front of the pit,” Smith said. “But it’s all mental. We need things like this.”

Smith also had some nagging pain in his shin and heel to deal with.

“I was hurting a little bit today,” he said. “Maybe shin splints or something. But I’m not too worried about that. Just rest and let the trainer fix me up.”

Other highlights from the D9 boys meet:


On a day when times, height and distances were largely compromised by the weather, that wasn’t the case for Coudersport’s Kevin Sherry.

Sherry won the 1,600-meter run with a meet-record time of 4 minutes, 18.04 seconds, easily outrunning Redbank Valley’s Kieran Fricko to the finish line.

Fricko qualified for the state meet with a time of 4:37.92.


Hayden Freeman won the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash as the Raiders shined on the track.

Freeman posted a time of 22.21 to edge teammate Jack Pete, who was second at 22.29. Freeman finished the 400 in 50.58 to claim the gold.

Pete won the 100, coming in at 11.13.

Brookville also won the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.


North Clarion’s Mason Burford came in with the top time in the 110-meter hurdles.

The competition was stiff, though, this season with Smith from Union/A-C Valley and Brookville’s Sam Krug nipping at his heels.

(Mason Burford)

He wanted to leave with the best time, too.

Burford did, edging Krug and Drew Slaugenhaupt of Keystone with a time of 15.71 seconds to take the gold.

Smith didn’t run the event.

“All the hard work I put in — it feels great,” Burford said. “It’s just really paying off now and that’s all that really matters.”

For complete results, click here.