Fast Afoot


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Bad guys trying to run away from Riverside senior Jimmy Tucker in the future may need to keep this in mind – Tucker is fast afoot.Tucker, who intended to major in criminal justice this fall at Wilkes University, may have another swift change of plans after he ended his high school track career in style. He covered 200 meters in 22.5 seconds to win a silver medal for his second-place finish in the PIAA championships in Class AA.“It felt good. I’m still in shock,” Tucker said. “I had no idea I could run like that. I didn’t think I’d take a second place.”His outstanding May could have repercussions on his future.“I wasn’t planning on running track in college until I ran so well at Shippensburg,” said Tucker, who now is looking at other colleges and may transfer to a school where he can run track in the spring.Not bad for a runner whose primary love was the 400, not the 200.“My main goal was to break the school record in the 400,” Tucker said. “I had no intentions of doing that well in the 200.”He thought of himself as a 400 runner until he had no more 400s to run.“I knew he had a hard-working attitude,” Riverside head track coach Evan Prall said. “I knew he could have a great season. Since I took over last year, I could see there weren’t too many kids with a better work ethic than him.”As a result, all the hard work he put into being the best 400 runner he could be translated well to the shorter sprint race, and it showed in the district meet as well as the state meet.“I trained real hard for the 400, but it made me stronger in the 200 in every thing,” Tucker said.That meant his starts were stronger, his turn was better, and he was able to maintain his speed longer down the home stretch. It was pretty clear he was a better runner in the shorter event.“At the beginning of the year, I was running mid 23s, and at the end of the year it was mid 22s,” Tucker said. “My main focus was getting a medal at districts, just a medal.”Tucker did get a medal – the gold medal – for winning the district title in 22.8 seconds. Every thing he had done had paid off with a trip to Shippensburg for the state meet.“I trained very hard with coach (Ken) Bednash,” Tucker said. “We put in a lot of work. He really wanted me to get that school record.”The record came early in the postseason for Tucker, who ran the 400 during the Robert Spagna conference championship meet in 50.8 seconds – “I broke the record by a second,” the senior said with pride.In the 200, his times kept dropping, and after his second-place finish in the 400 at districts, he could focus on the 200. Still, he was uncertain about his chances for striking district gold in that event.“I knew I had a lot of competition, [teammate Dave] Sweetman, the kid from GAR [Anthony Maurent]” Tucker said. “I didn’t know how I was going to do, actually.”Tucker, who had run a 22.5 to capture the gold in the Spagna meet, delivered once again in districts with a 22.8 time to complete a day that included a gold medal in the 400 relay and a third in the 100.Then in the state meet, he ripped off a 22.44 clocking to have the best time of the 16 runners in the semifinals before his charge to the silver in the final.“He started slow, with a quad injury that prohibited him from some things,” Prall said. “When he got healthy, he started to improve, and started peaking at the perfect time.”Now, some other doors may open.“Take his times and they compare well to the Division II level,” Prall said.Now, he may be chasing college track athletes as well as criminals.

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