Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Mac Tanner

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Port Allegany RB/LB Mac Tanner (Photo by Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
March 24, 2016

Two more Port Allegany seniors, Tre’ Garzel and Mac Tanner, have accepted invitations to participate in the 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic football game, bringing the congregation of Gators on the Pennsylvania roster to six.

That number is the second-most for Port in the game’s lengthy history, trailing only the eight (plus the coaching staff) from the record-smashing 2012 state semifinal squad who helped lead Pennsy to a 53-12 win in 2013.

Four other editions of the game have featured a five-Gator contingent, with the Keystone State going 3-1 in those contests against its counterpart from north of the state line. Overall, New York holds a 22-18-2 lead, winning the last two after a 7-for-10 Pennsylvania run had closed a sizable gap in the series.

This year’s Big 30 Charities Classic is slated for Saturday, Aug. 6, at Parkway Field in Bradford.

Like Garzel, Tanner got his first varsity experience as a freshman reserve for the 2012 District 9 champions. He stepped into a major role the following year, leading the team in tackles, but was forced to miss his entire junior season due to injury.

The 5-7, 160-pound running back/cornerback returned with a vengeance for his senior campaign, rushing for a team-best 654 yards, including a career-high 152-yard game at Curwensville, and scoring eight touchdowns. On defense, he once again topped the Gators in stops, a performance which earned him a spot on the Olean Times Herald Big 30 All-Star team and consideration as a finalist for their Defensive Player of the Year award.

“Mac has been what I would call a ‘caged dog’ for us throughout his career. When we’d let him loose to play he would go insanely crazy on the field with no regard for his own health and safety. That is a quality our coaching staff is going to miss considerably,” Gator head coach Justin Bienkowski said. “He has struggled through a ton of injuries but as long as he was cleared to play we could count on him. Mac exemplifies how football helps a young boy become a man. He has grown up and matured in front of our eyes on and off the field. His toughness and grit running the ball for us was a huge part of any success we had offensively.

“Defensively, Mac was extremely reliable to be around the ball play in and play out. He didn’t hesitate to stick his nose in against anyone. As a head coach I’m going to miss the struggle of trying to keep him tamed when he just wanted to go physically destroy his opponent.”

Also an exceptional wrestler, the two-time Allegheny Mountain League all-star realized a longtime dream this winter, qualifying for the state tournament with a third-place finish in his second trip to regionals. He ended his Gator mat career with an 89-21 career record, tied for 16th on the PAHS wins list.

Tanner plans to study safety management at Clarion University. The Big 30 press release states, “Mac is aware of the history of the Big 30 Charities Classic and is looking forward to playing with players from other schools. In addition, he wants to be a role model for younger athletes. His most memorable moments playing football were being knee deep in mud and snow in the playoffs, and heading the pre-game chant. His hobbies include dirt bike riding, snowmobiling, working and hanging out with Papa Coldren. Mac’s favorite football team is the Penn State Nittany Lions and his favorite player is LaMichael James.”

For more information on the Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, visit  http://www.big30football.org/index.html.

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Tanner breaks a tackle against Sheffield. (Photo by Pam Fischer)

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Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Tre’ Garzel

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Port Allegany QB/DB Tre’ Garzel (Photo by Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
March 24, 2016

Two more Port Allegany seniors, Tre’ Garzel and Mac Tanner, have accepted invitations to participate in the 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic football game, bringing the congregation of Gators on the Pennsylvania roster to six.

That number is the second-most for Port in the game’s lengthy history, trailing only the eight (plus the coaching staff) from the record-smashing 2012 state semifinal squad who helped lead Pennsy to a 53-12 win in 2013.

Four other editions of the game have featured a five-Gator contingent, with the Keystone State going 3-1 in those contests against its counterpart from north of the state line. Overall, New York holds a 22-18-2 lead, winning the last two after a 7-for-10 Pennsylvania run had closed a sizable gap in the series.

This year’s Big 30 Charities Classic is slated for Saturday, Aug. 6, at Parkway Field in Bradford.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Garzel moved from receiver to quarterback early in the 2014 season and “never looked back,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said.

A four-year letterman and two-time Allegheny Mountain League North Division All-Star, Garzel completed 72 of 161 passes for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions as a senior, bringing his career numbers to 139-310, 1682 yards, 17 touchdowns and 9 picks. A three-touchdown performance against Moniteau in Week 4 earned him the Big 30 Impact Yardage Player of the Week award, but he was at his best in the division-clinching win at Smethport, going 18-for-24 for 274 yards and four TD tosses in a game he listed as his ‘most memorable moment’ in the Big 30 press release.

“One thing that defines Tre is his relentless ability to continue coming back and trying to improve. His sports IQ is very high and he really thinks the game. He allowed our offense to open up and become more balanced because of his strong arm,” Bienkowski said.

“Defensively, Tre was very much the guy in charge of the back end in the secondary. He really understood what we wanted from our defensive alignment and made sure guys were in the right spots. Similar to Nate Lowery, Tre has been a part of our program since elementary school and just enjoys being around sports. He’s a heck of a competitor and we are going to miss his willingness to want to get better.”

Also a North Tier League All-Star in basketball, Garzel was recently chosen to play in that sport’s Big 30 Senior Classic, becoming the first Port athlete selected for both games.
Though undecided on his college choice, the National Honor Society member plans to major in actuarial science. A Pittsburgh Steelers fan who lists Antonio Brown as his favorite player and “sports and being with friends” as his hobbies, Garzel “wants to play the game he loves one more time.”

For more information on the Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, visit  http://www.big30football.org/index.html.

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Garzel on the run against ECC. (Photo by Pam Fischer)

 

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Dylan Baumgarner

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Port Allegany WR/LB Dylan Baumgarner. (Photo by Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
March 10, 2016

Whether it was picking off two passes to help beat Moniteau, breaking a short screen pass for a 77-yard touchdown at Otto-Eldred, or being virtually unstoppable in an 11-catch, 202-yard, four-touchdown performance that earned the D9Sports.com Player of the Week award in the Allegheny Mountain League North Division-clinching win over Smethport, Dylan Baumgarner made big plays all over the field for the Port Allegany football team.

For his efforts, the Gator senior was named an All-Star by both the AML and the Olean Times Herald Big 30 Committee last fall, with the latter honor including an automatic invitation to the Pennsylvania roster for the 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic in August.

New York leads the series between the two states, 22-18-2, in the game which has raised more than $1.6 million for local charities and individuals since its inception by Don Raabe and the Bradford Jaycees in 1974. This year’s edition is slated for Saturday, Aug. 6, at Parkway Field in Bradford.

“Dylan was the centerpiece of our defense at Mike linebacker. He played both the run and pass quite well, resulting in a ton of tackles and some interceptions. His versatility in both facets of the game allowed Coach Zitnik to design some things for him that would result in defensive success,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said of the 6-0, 180-pound linebacker/receiver.

“Offensively, we were able to move him out to wide receiver from running back, which allowed for Tre (Garzel) to show off his skills and our offense to score some points. Dylan’s willingness to move to the X was a “team first” decision and he never complained about it. Dylan brought an edge to our team with his style of play. He never said a whole lot but just went out and played football. He came back to football his junior year and because of his contributions we were able to have some success.”

The Big 30 press release states that Baumgarner, who plans to attend Mansfield University next fall, “considers it an honor and a great accomplishment to be a part of the Big 30 Charities Classic.” He lists his hobbies as “football, wrestling, and lifting,” and the Buffalo Bills and Adrian Peterson as his favorite NFL team and player.

For more information on the Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, visit http://www.big30football.org/index.html.

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Baumgarner takes a short screen pass the distance for a 77-yard touchdown at Otto-Eldred. (Photo by Pat Crants)

Northwest AA Wrestling Regional: Day 1 recap

LIVE RESULTS

SHARON, Pa – It was a good day to be a district champ during the opening rounds of the PIAA Northwest Regional, with all but two of the top-seeded wrestlers moving into this morning’s semifinals.

The two District 9 titlists from the Allegheny Mountain League, Port Allegany’s Ethan Budd (28-2) and Smethport’s Jimmy Duffy (31-0), each cruised through their quarterfinal matches with little difficulty. Budd was well ahead late in the second period in his 220-pound bout before finishing off D-10 fourth seed Tyler Zebrivious (Lakeview) in 3:53 to run his career record to 99-26 — breaking a tie with his coach, B.J. Greenman (98-38) on the PAHS career wins list — while Duffy, the reigning PIAA bronze medalist, blanked Adam Ballew (D10-4, North East) 12-0 to remain unbeaten at 145.

Budd will meet the D-10 runner-up, Sharon senior Bryce Laughlin (31-3), who got here with an 11-4 winner over Curwensville’s Stephen McClure. The two met in the season-opening Hickory Tournament, with Budd notching a 15-2 major decision in the semis.

Duffy draws D10-2 John Mott (Commodore Perry, jr., 29-2), who pinned Clarion’s Colton Rapp in the quarterfinals.

Budd’s teammate, 160-pounder Mac Tanner (29-2), will also wrestle in the semis for a shot at clinching a ticket to Hershey for states. Tanner frustrated Tyler Burlew (Corry) in the quarters, winning the takedown battle 5-0 on the way to a 10-6 decision. He’ll face Eisenhower senior Louie Head (32-1), the D-10 champ.

Sheffield’s Terrel Williams is the only other AML wrestler to make it to the semis, downing Joshua Christner (Greenville) 12-5 to set up a meeting with Curwensville’s Shae Bloom.

As expected, the two district team champs stand atop the team leaderboard, with Reynolds (9 in the semis) holding a 44-32.5 edge over Brookville (6). Brockway (seventh), Curwensville and Port A (tied for eighth) are the only other D-9 schools in the top 10.

Other area results:
106: John Wheeler (Northwestern) 7-0 Dylan Pesock (Oswayo Valley)
113: Trevor Olney (Coudy) 6-5 Derick Uber (Lakeview); Abe Guarriello (Fort LeBoeuf) 2:43 Olney.
120: Sam Sallot (Harbor Creek) 9-4 Trey Stiles (Port A)
126: Dustin Kudrick (C) 5-1 Caiden Mooney (Northwestern); Cole Matthews (Reynolds) 1:09 Kudrick.
132: Dustin Weilacher (Union City)7-2 Devin Norlin (Johnsonburg)
138: Hunter Michaels (Rey) 8-0 Adam Shunk (Smethport)
138: Jude Mattocks (Saegertown) 14-6 Alec English (Kane)
145: Dan Simmerman (Sae) 7-1 Jacob Kallenborn (PA)
145: Chris Hibbler (Seneca) 5-4 Julian Smith (C)
152: Gage Arnold (C) 10-8 (SV-1) John Sims (Hickory); Nicholas Monico (Sae) 13-3 Arnold.
170: Joel Leise (Reynolds) 13-2 Josiah Ramadhan (PA)
182: Hunter Cox (Cambridge Springs) 13-3 Grant West (OV)

Kriner inducted into D-9 Wrestling HOF

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Former Port Allegany wrestling coach John Kriner (third from left) with the current Gator squad at last weekend’s District IX Championships, where he was inducted into the local chapter of the PWCA Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2016.

Lori Chase
Mar. 3, 2016

Very few local high schools offered the sport of wrestling when a young teacher named John Kriner arrived in Port Allegany in 1970.
Kriner helped to change that, serving as the Gators’ first head coach from 1973-79, then taking the mantle again from 1986-94. When he retired from the school in 2004 following a three-year stint with the junior high squad, he’d compiled a 145-85-1 career varsity record and coached nine district champions, two Northwest Regional champions, eight state qualifiers and one PIAA state champion.
His efforts to teach and promote the sport were officially recognized last weekend, when Kriner was part of the District IX Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2016 inducted during the championship meet at Clearfield.
For Kriner, the honor was “very humbling.  It’s not like winning a district title or taking a kid and watching him become a state champion. It’s a humbling thing, because there are so many others that have been a part of that family or fraternity or whatever you might want to call it that have come before you, and there are so many others that are going to come after you. The unique thing is they’ve all worked to benefit the sport, and in the process, to benefit kids. I’m humbled to be a part of that.”
So how did someone who never wrestled in high school or college get involved with the sport, anyway?
“I went to Lock Haven University after graduating from Emporium in 1966 — boy, that seems like a long time ago,” he joked. “When I was at Lock Haven, they were a powerhouse wrestling school, and I just became enthralled with the sport as a spectator. It was one of those combinations of watching those young men participating, and perhaps the fantasy in my own mind: ‘Boy, I wish I’d have had a chance. I wish that this would’ve been available for me.’
“When I was hired at Port Allegany in 1970, I worked with Frank Robinson for a year or maybe two in Junior Olympics. He had a background in wrestling, and he wanted to be able to create something for not only his kids, but other kids in the sport. Frank was more or less the motivating force in getting the Junior Olympic program started, and certainly was very instrumental in helping to push for the beginning of a varsity program in Port Allegany.”
The school decided to try the sport on a trial basis in 1972. Kriner applied for and got the coaching job, working with “a half-dozen or eight kids” the first year before going ahead with a full schedule in 1973.
“To tell you the truth, I was so naive at the time, one of my very first goals with wrestling was to develop a state champion within the first five years of the program.” he said. “Well, that didn’t happen, but we did have a young man who placed at districts. Mike Freeman was actually our very first placewinner at the district tournament (in 1975), so he has his place in history for Port Allegany wrestling.”
After stepping away following the 1978-79 season, Kriner returned to the helm of the program in 1985-86, just in time to see a promising sophomore win a district title.
Two years later, Dale Budd stood atop the podium at Hersheypark Arena, a PIAA gold medal draped around his neck. To this point, he remains the only Gator wrestler to win a state championship.
“That was a remarkable experience,” Kriner said. “It was following the loss of my son, and Dale and my son Rick were good friends. Most of the kids on that team were all good friends with Ricky.
“One of the things I’ll always hold very dear to my heart is Dale’s first words when he came off the mat after winning a state title and grabbing a big bear-hug back and forth. With all the emotion of the victory and everything else, his first words were, ‘Coach, that one was for Bonecrusher.’ That’s what the kids called Ricky. That was really, really important to me.”
Budd, himself a District IX Hall of Famer after a career which went on to include earning NCAA Division I All-American status at Lock Haven, made the trip from near Philadelphia to be there for the ceremony on Saturday afternoon. A similar show of respect was evident on a Facebook post Kriner wrote to thank everyone involved with the program, which garnered more than 400 ‘likes’ and dozens of congratulatory comments, including many from his former wrestlers.
Another former Gator standout echoed their sentiments when contacted earlier in the week.
“Coach Kriner was a huge influence on my life. He really started to plant the seed of not only developing a passion for the sport of wrestling, but also for helping others and being selfless. He was a great role model for me at a young age and without his guidance I would not be where I am today,” said Isaac Greeley, a four-time state qualifier who went on to become a two-time NCAA Division II All-American at Pitt-Johnstown. “I’m very proud that he is being inducted into the D-9 Hall of Fame and happy that someone who put so much into others is being recognized for all that he has done for the sport and his wrestlers.”
Greeley is one of several former Port wrestlers who decided to follow Kriner’s lead into coaching, from Steve Crowe, Denny Bloss, Mike Borro and Greg Budd (to name a few) from those early teams to current Gator varsity coaches B.J. Greenman and Chad Saltsman.
“That circle of life continues to go on,” Kriner said. “I appreciate watching B.J. and Chad and the work they do, the other local guys like John Bishel and Aaron Rendos, all of these different men and their contribution toward helping kids. Because to me, the extracurricular activities in a school are the window that the community can see what’s going on within the school system. Not just wrestling or football or basketball, but all of the activities, be it in athletics or the performing arts. The coaches, mentors, advisors … all those people who involve themselves in the lives of kids. That’s important. That helps to mold those young people in moving forward.
“That’s a legacy. That, to me, that’s a part of what you do. The most important thing in what I did was to create the program. The concept is to create a program that’s more important than any one individual, whether it’s the coach or any one star on the team. The ideal situation is to be able to take those principles that you teach, and to have them mean enough to someone else to want to take the same concept and carry it on by doing it with others. There’s no greater thanks you could ever receive.”

 

Wrestling: Budd repeats as D-9 champ

Port sends five, Coudy four, Smethport two to regionals

Lori Chase
Mar. 3, 2016

The dream of PIAA gold is still alive for five Port Allegany High School wrestlers following last weekend’s District 9 Championships.

Led by Ethan Budd, who swept through the 220-pound bracket to become just the seventh Gator grappler in school history to win multiple district titles, fellow seniors Mac Tanner (second at 160) and Josiah Ramadhan (third at 170) and sophomores Trey Stiles (fourth at 120) and Jacob Kallenborn (fourth at 145) each earned a berth in this week’s Northwest Regional with a top-four finish at the two-day meet held at Clearfield High School on Feb. 26-27.

“We were talking about that before we went down there,” Port coach B.J. Greenman said after Budd joined former Gator stars Isaac Greeley, Adam Rohrer, Nick Nichols, Alex Gular (all three-time champs), Dylan Major and 1988 PIAA champion Dale Budd with his second D-9 win. “Ethan said, ‘If I win, I’ll be like the seventh or eighth one to ever do it!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you would be. But you’ll be even more elite if you make it to states, because I think we’ve only had three or four multiple state qualifiers.’

“He’s in an elite group already. He and Mac are already in the top 10 in winning percentage for the school’s history, and Ethan’s climbing up the board for most wins. Both of those kids are in elite territory on how they wrestle.”

The defending champ and top seed at 220, Budd (27-2, 98-26 career) opened his title defense by pinning Mark Latuska (Brockway) in 1:10, then scored a 10-2 major decision against Steven McClure (Curwensville) before downing second-seeded Brookville sophomore Tyler Cook, 10-3, in the final to ensure Port would have at least one district champion for the 10th time in 11 years.

“He’s so quick on his feet and so strong when he gets to a leg, I think kids don’t know what to do. You could see it in the finals; he just completely frustrated the kid. (Cook) couldn’t do anything, and Ethan was taking him down, taking him down. Just a dominant performance,” Greenman said. “When our kids wrestle well, that’s what they do. They just keep putting pressure on the kid and keep scoring. That’s how you win big matches.”

Cook’s loss was a rare setback for the Raiders, who obliterated their own two-year old team scoring record with 257.5 points to runner-up Brockway’s 129.5, sent 12 of 14 wrestlers on to regionals, and tied another D-9 record by crowning six champions. Ridgway took third with 113.5 points, while Port compiled 92.5 to match last year’s fourth-place finish.

“I think we wrestled well, although we didn’t meet our goals. We wanted to take seven kids (to regionals), but we took five and had seven in the semis, second-most out of any of the teams down there. Five is still a big number,” Greenman said, “and it’s the most in the AML. We like to at least beat the teams around here, if we’re not going to be able to compete with some of the bigger schools down by I-80. I think we had a good showing, especially for a small school like we are.”

Budd and unbeaten Smethport 152-pounder Jimmy Duffy (30-0) were the only Allegheny Mountain League wrestlers to earn gold, with Tanner (28-2, 84-18 career), the Hubbers’ Adam Shunk (26-4), and Coudersport’s Julian Smith (23-6) each falling in the finals to claim silver.

Tanner had the misfortune of being in the same weight class with undefeated Cranberry standout Paul Zacherl (34-0), who Greenman thought merited serious consideration for the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award.

“Sometimes you wrestle a kid you just can’t do anything to,” he said. “He was wrestling at that level; he was just completely untouchable for the entire tournament.”

The M.O.W. award went to Brookville’s 132-pound star, nationally ranked Taylor Ortz (37-0), who pinned his way to his fourth-straight D-9 championship. Ortz’s future Clarion University teammate Shae Bloom also became a four-time champ, winning the first two at Class AAA DuBois before transferring to Curwensville.

Most of the brackets ran true to the seeding, with 12 of 14 finals featuring a 1-vs-2 showdown and all but two of the top seeds earning titles. Kallenborn and Stiles were two of the exceptions who outperformed their seeding, each upsetting a higher-ranked wrestler to open up their path to regionals. Dylan Baumgarner (21-9, 66-35 career) and Reese Vollmer (17-13) each came within a takedown of joining them before ending their seasons by dropping close decisions in the consi semifinals.

Now it’s on to Sharon for regionals, a return trip for all three seniors, with Budd placing third a year ago to punch his ticket to states.

“Looking at the brackets, I think we’re set up pretty well,” Greenman said. “Our three seniors have a really good shot at making it out, and even our two sophomores, going in as four-seeds, have a decent shot.”

As the No. 1 seed at 220, Budd earned a first-round bye and will open his tournament in Friday’s quarterfinal round against either D10-6 Joe Newara (Harbor Creek, jr., 18-19) or D10-4 Tyler Zebrovious (Lakeview, so., 24-13).

Other first-round opponents:

120: D9-4 Stiles (18-8) vs. D10-5 Sam Sallot (Harbor Creek, so., 34-6), who qualified for states as a freshman last year with a third-place finish at 106;

145: D9-4 Kallenborn (22-10) vs. D10-5 Dan Simmerman (Saegertown, sr., 22-13), a returning regional silver medalist;

160: D9-2 Tanner vs. D10-3 Tyler Burlew (Corry, so., 32-6);

170: D9-3 Ramadhan (25-7, 67-34 career) vs. D10-2 Joel Leise (Reynolds, jr., 34-7), one of 11 qualifiers from the District 10 team champs.

District IX Class AA Championships
Clearfield High School, Feb. 26-27:
Brookville 257.5, Brockway 129.5, Ridgway 113.5, Port Allegany 92.5, Clarion 86, Keystone 80, Coudersport 78, Redbank Valley 76.5, Cranberry 73.5, Curwensville 71.5, Smethport 54.5, Kane 36.5, Sheffield 34, Oswayo Valley 29, Johnsonburg 22, Cameron County 4.

Championship finals:
106: Keelan Kunselman (Brv) TF 17-0 Blake Passarelli (Cur)
113: Gavin Park (Brv) 4-2 Mitchell Overbeck (Bkw)
120: Ryan Carlson (Bkw) 6-0 Lukas McClain (Rdg)
126: Tanner Altobelli (RV) 5-3 Mason Lindenmuth (Bkw)
132: Taylor Ortz (Brv) 1:49 Logan McClain (Rdg)
138: Cole Aaron (Brv) 5:26 Adam Shunk (Sm)
145: James Duffy (Sm) 7-0 Julian Smith (Coudy)
152: Shae Bloom (Cur) 7-1 Caleb Hetrick (Brv)
160: Paul Zacherl (Cran) 15-5 Mac Tanner (PA)
170: Xavier Molnar (Brv) 3-0 Michael Martino (Bkw)
182: Noah Cieleski (Brv) 13-1 Evan Redding (Key)
195: Zach Sintobin (Clar) 5:50 Dane Clever (Brv)
220: Ethan Budd (PA) 10-3 Tyler Cook (Brv)
285: Tyler Beal (Key) 6-3 Brylee Shumaker (RV)

Conway leaps to NEC gold

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Nick and Hunter Conway pose with the latest addition to Nick’s medal collection at the NEC Indoor Championships, Staten Island, N.Y. on Feb. 19. (Photo by Tammy Conway)

Lori Chase
Mar. 3, 2016

Former Port Allegany High School standout Nick Conway soared to new heights at the recent Northeast Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, winning the NEC high jump title with a new personal best of 2.02 meters (6 feet, 7.5 inches) on Feb. 19 at Staten Island, N.Y.

The Saint Francis University junior needed every centimeter of that leap to claim the gold, after he and top seed Dashawn Putman (Central Connecticut State) had both cleared 2.01m (6′ 7″) to force a tiebreaker.

“It was a whirlwind of thoughts when they announced I had to compete in the jump-off,” Conway wrote in a message to the Reporter Argus. “They previously had told me I won….then recalculated and determined the jump-off had to happen. Initially I was not too excited. I was coming off of a groin strain that removed me from practice for 1.5 weeks leading up to the championship meet, on top of me not jumping in practice — maybe three times in practice all year. So I was the clear-cut underdog against the number one seed.

“But that is where the beauty of sports set in. To be a true champion you have to rise to the occasion.”

At least one person at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex already had a good feeling about the outcome, though — Port assistant coach Hunter Conway, watching from the stands with his wife, Tammy.

“My father has been my coach since I started track. Things don’t change when he comes to my competitions; I still glance up to get his feedback on how to alter my approach after each jump,” Nick wrote. “It’s funny because my father always calls me and gives me a little pre-meet info on my competition, and he said I would win the high jump earlier this week. But I figured he just had high hopes, considering I hadn’t even practiced.”

“I knew he stood a good chance, and he was motivated,” Hunter said. “So it was a perfect storm, so to speak.”

Conway was one of four jumpers to succeed at 2.01m, including two of his Red Flash teammates, but he and Putman did so in the fewest attempts to move on to the tiebreaker. With the bar reset at 2.04m (6′ 8.25”), both missed on their first try.

“I was slightly defeated at that point,” Nick wrote, “but looking to the stands I could see just how excited my father was at this opportunity. Feeding off my dad’s energy, I altered my approach slightly.”

Accelerating toward his target, he launched himself into the air, and then …

“When I jumped, I swear my eyes were closed,” he wrote. “The stands erupted with cheers and I realized I made it. After celebrating, I jogged to the opposite end of the track and prayed the three-hour competition would go no further.”

Of course, there was at least one more jump left, with Putman getting a chance to match Conway’s height and send the competition to another round.

“I did not watch (Putman) jump,” Nick wrote. “I simply listened to the crowd.”

Once again, their reaction told him all he needed to know.

“It was a surreal feeling to win,” he concluded. “I felt my parents’ trips to all my meets were rewarded with this underdog win. Above all, it’s a blessing to be able to compete on this stage and have my parents right there watching.”

The conference title was the second for Conway, who won the 60-meter hurdles at last season’s indoor championships. He placed fifth this year, turning in a time of 8.24 seconds to qualify in that event as well as the high jump for this weekend’s IC4A/ECAC Championships at Boston University.