PIAA TRACK & FIELD: Hazleton Area's Guzman wins javelin gold in Class 3A

SHIPPENSBURG — Samuell Guzman looked up into the crowd at Seth Grove Stadium and pointed to his fans.

He stood tall on the top step of the podium as a state champion.

The Hazleton Area senior capped a year-long quest to move up on the awards platform in the javelin, and on the first attempt of his return to the PIAA Track and Field Championships, he unleashed a gold-medal winning throw of 208 feet, 8 inches in the Class 3A boys meet Saturday morning at Shippensburg University.

Guzman's distance is the fifth-best among WVC athletes all-time. He trails Coughlin's Justin Ryncavage (224-1); Tunkhannock's Matthew Prebola (222-2); Wyoming Area's Drew Mruk (220-6); and Wyoming Area's Marc Minichello (213-5).

"I knew I couldn't slack," Guzman said. "I knew that there were a lot of good throwers in Pa. I got my mindset correct, got to work and finished on top.

"I put a lot of work into this. It feels amazing."

Last season, Guzman won a fifth-place medal in the javelin with a throw of 186-3. He improved from his season-best of 169-5 as a sophomore.

He put in the work and, throughout the season, kept getting better.

Guzman won the Tamaqua Blue Raider Invitational with a distance of 171-8, finished second at the Northwest Rangers Invitational with a mark of 169-1, then started to make his way toward where he wanted to be at season's end.

His throw of 183-7 won him gold at the Walter Godek Twilight Invitational, and he surpassed 200 feet to win at the Wyoming Valley Conference Championships.

At the District 2 Class 3A Championships, Guzman sent notice. His winning throw of 207-5 put him well clear of the challengers across the state.

He seeded first and put away the competition quickly with a massive throw of 208-8. That put him in the lead, and Avon Grove's Elias Chase was the only athlete to challenge that heave when he hit 197-8 on his first throw.

With the gold all but put around his neck, Guzman had a throw of 200-6 on his third attempt and finished with one at 205-3.

"That first throw, I might have felt a little too relaxed," Guzman said. "I maybe tried to do too much on my remaining throws. That first one was good enough."