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D9 Track and Field Championships

Happy Hat Trick: Union/A-C Valley’s Blauser Wins District 9 Titles in 100-meter Dash, Long and Triple Jumps

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Baylee Blauser wasn’t sure when it would all sink in. 

A title in the long jump. Another in the triple jump. And a third, slightly unexpected one in the 100-meter dash at the District 9 Class 2A Track and Field Championships at Brookville High School on Friday. 

“I’m so happy,” Blauser said, a huge smile creasing the face of the Union/A-C Valley senior. “I’m still kind of numb.”

Blauser has come a long way since last year when she was broken — both literally and figuratively. 

A devastating ankle injury suffered while playing softball just days before the District 9 meet sabotaged any chance she had at gold in the long or triple jumps. 

The physical anguish was nothing compared to the mental pain.

A season with so much potential torpedoed and scuttled at the end. 

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

She vowed to get back this year, to shed those memories of 2021. The profound disappointment. The persistent thoughts of what could have been. 

Blauser has been determined all year long; nothing was going to stop her.

Blauser broke school records again along the way to the district finals Friday, growing stronger with each meet.

She began the day with a close finish with Laiyla Russell of Cranberry, edging her by .7 seconds for the 100 crown. 

Later Friday, she easily won gold in the long jump, her second attempt producing 17 feet, 10 inches. 

Blauser had another leap that neared 19 feet, but she faulted. 

Still, she beat Clarion-Limestone’s Brooke Kessler, the defending D9 champ, and Moniteau’s Ciona Deprano, who came in third. The three shared hugs at the end of the event. 

“Last year was not good. It was awful,” Blauser said. “Coming back and doing this and winning three events. It’s amazing. It’s crazy. I’m a little bit in shock.”

Blauser picked up the hat trick in the dying light of the evening, leaping 37-6 in the triple jump to snag her third gold. 

She wore all three medals proudly around her neck at the end of the long day. 

Of the three, the 100 win had Blauser the most in awe. She started running the event in earnest only this year as a way to keep her mind off the jumps. 

The event that was there as an outlet for her nerves turned into one of her strongest. 

(Baylee Blauser shares an embrace with Moniteau’s Ciona Deprano after winning the long jump)

Blauser and Russell ran side by side for most of the 100 meters. Russell stumbled and fell as she tried to lean over the finish line. That may have cost her. 

Blauser finished in 12.80 seconds; Russell in 12.87. 

Whenever the two raced this season, Russell always came out on top. Until Friday. 

“That came to a big surprise to me because Leiyla, she’s amazing,” Blauser said. “My goal today was just to keep up with her.”

Union/A-C Valley co-head coach Stacey Fox wasn’t as surprised as Blauser. Fox knew Blauser has exceptional speed and could excel as a sprinter.

The first time she ran the 100 this year in a meet, she tied the school record with a time of 12.6.

“We knew she was a fast kid,” Fox said. “We’ve always known that. Last year she was in softball and the long jump and we couldn’t have her do a lot, so we’d throw her in (the 100) every once in awhile. This year, when she just concentrated on track, we knew were could put her in more places. We could put her anywhere on the track and she’d win.”

Blauser, who also ran the 200 this year, is a jumper at heart, however.

She holds school records in both the long and triple jumps.

“Everything has been fitting together, like a puzzle,” Blauser said. “All the pieces and kind of fitting into place.”

Blauser hopes the puzzle can be easily solved one more time next weekend in Shippensburg at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

When she placed a disappointing ninth there last year in the long jump — her ankle too injured and the pain too great to push through — Blauser’s goal was to return and win a state title.

It’s been a season long tour of redemption for Blauser.

There’s just one more stop.

“She’s a fighter,” said Union/A-C Valley co-head track and field coach Shanna Tharan. “She’s strong-willed. She’s capable of fighting through anything. I’m so proud of her.”

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