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Henry, Apsley compete at states

After the performances of Northampton track and field athletes, Benjamin Henry and Shaun Apsley, at the PIAA State Class 3A Track and Field Championships this past Saturday at Shippensburg University, the sky’s the limit for these Konkrete Kids.

Both first-time qualifiers for the state meet, Henry won a fifth place medal in the 200 meter dash (22.01), and Apsley placed 10th in the 300 meter hurdles (39.97).

“I was shocked. Everyone started shaking my hand,” Henry said. “I didn’t know I’d get up there.”

After placing seventh in preliminaries, Henry, a junior, hoped for a higher place in the final and got it.

“I was a little nervous, yes,” he said. “My start was OK, but the blocks were different. The ones we use (at Northampton) are curved and fit your feet perfectly.”

Northampton track and field coach Tim Caffrey told Henry to make sure to work the curve, keep his arm swing, and keep a good leg drive, while Henry’s father told him to think about why he runs and to breathe.

Henry did it all.

“Going into the final, I was focused on finishing, but once I finished, wow,” he said. “To get out on the big stage and compete with the greatest in the state, it did feel special to know you’re up there with the greatest people.”

Apsley’s 10th place finish was a personal record for the Northampton junior.

“I felt like I came on strong and attacked the hurdles,” said Apsley, who clipped one but didn’t feel it. “I’m happy I P.R.’ed and a little disappointed I didn’t place, but I realized there’s a lot of good competition in PA.”

Northampton hurdling coach Bill Gillespie was thrilled.

“He came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and said he was really proud. He said that being a first-time hurdler and placing 10th in the state, that’s pretty good,” Apsley said. “It was a pretty amazing experience, jumping in that field of hurdlers, and it shows you how fast everyone is.”

Apsley started his high school track and field career as a sprinter, but Coach Gillespie had a better idea, making him a hurdler.

“I’m very happy that happened because a lot of people go into track thinking what they want to do, but I found out hurdling is my thing,” said Apsley. “I think about being so happy after I placed first at our dual meet against Easton, compared to winning EPC’s (East Penn Conference Championships) and districts.”

Competing at a state meet can be overwhelming for anyone, but Henry and Apsley handled it like the champs they are.

“They both did a great job, both weathering the cold, rainy conditions of the day,” said Coach Caffrey, “but more importantly, the great achievement of overcoming the nervousness that a collection of the best athletes in the state tournament can cause. Great step forward for both Shaun and Ben.”