PHOTO: Jack Lynett, shown winning the pole vault at the District 2 championships, placed third at the state championships. (Zachary Allen Photo)
By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
SHIPPENSBURG – The larger the meet, the stronger the Scranton Prep boys track and field team became.
The nature of scoring in sports like track and field, swimming and wrestling create situations where some teams are better in dual meets and others are built to perform better in larger multi-team competitions.
Depth and balance stand out in head-to-head competition. A few special athletes can make for a good tournament team.
The Cavaliers clearly had those special athletes with three combining to produce four finishes among the top three in the state in their events.
“We knew,” Scranton Prep coach Jeff Dorunda said. “We were built for invitationals. The better, the more competitive the meet was, the better we would be.
“We have a lot of talent way up top.”
With seniors Thomas Dickinson and Jack Lynett and sophomore London Montgomery leading the way, the Cavaliers looked much different in the past two weeks than during the regular season.
Scranton Prep was third out of five teams in Division 1 of the Lackawanna Track Conference standings following a regular season in which it was 2-2 in the division and 2-4 including crossovers.
The Cavaliers tied for second out of 20 teams at the District 2 Class 2A Track and Field Championships.
The best was yet to come.
Scranton Prep finished alone in second place out of 88 teams that scored – and more that were represented – in Class 2A boys Friday at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.
Dickinson placed second in the javelin with a throw of 190-1, Lynett took third in the pole vault by clearing 14-0 and Montgomery placed third in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Montgomery made his high school debut this season. He had practiced for the 2020 season before it was canceled prior to the first meet because of the pandemic.
Dickinson and Lynett each made great strides from two years ago.
Lynett was fourth in the district in the pole vault as a sophomore. Dickinson did not even score in the district javelin, finishing ninth while placing higher as a pole vaulter, taking seventh place.
“Sophomore year, they were both pretty good, then they lost their season and they come back and they’re both Division I athletes,” Dorunda said.
Dickinson will continue his track and field career at the University of Virginia. Lynett is headed for Lafayette College.
“They took it seriously during the pandemic,” Dorunda said. “They had nothing and they kind of found their own way through.”
Montgomery first made his athletic impact on the football field as an all-star running back, who already averaged well more than 100 yards rushing in the games he has played in the first two years of his high school career.
“If you’ve seen him play football, you know he’s really fast,” Dorunda said. “It doesn’t always translate to track.”
In Montgomery’s case, it does.
Montgomery set the Scranton Prep record in the 100 by running 10.99 during his district qualifying heat. He ran 11.01 and 11.00 at the state meet.
During qualifying for the 200 at states, Montgomery was the second-fastest in the meet, lowering the Scranton Prep record to 22 seconds flat. He came back with 22.21 in the final.
“He’s so new to it,” Dorunda said. “We worked on his starts this week and all the little details you need to run fast.
“I think he came out and had a great day.”
Dickinson finished the second in the state, after posting Pennsylvania’s best Class 2A distance in any of the 12 district championships.
That is without Scranton Prep having room to conduct the event at home meets.
In addition to being among the state’s best in their specialties, Scranton Prep’s two senior leaders and close friends, who are also teammates in wrestling, did their best to make the Cavaliers stronger in those smaller meets.
“They’ve all been very good teammates this year,” Dorunda said. “We only throw javelin on the road, so Thomas learned to high jump and also pole vault a little bit for us.
“Jack was second place in the district in triple jump.”
Adding to their workload did nothing to stop their ascent to near the top of the state podium.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Dorunda said. “If you told us two years ago, they would both be on the medal stand, you’d never believe it. We’ll miss those guys.”
Before they left, they joined a talented younger teammate in producing a special day together at Shippensburg.
“It’s a banner day for Prep track for sure,” Dorunda said.