SHIPPENSBURG — She was standing at the very end of the state medal stand, beaming over the eighth and final award the PIAA handed out in her event. To Olivia Giambra, it may as well have been made of gold. Giambra went from a 12th seed to an eight-place finish in the girls Class 3A long jump Friday, pulling off the biggest surprise from a group of Wyoming Valley Conference competitors who all found magical moments on the opening day of the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium. “Amazing,” is how Giambra, a Pittston Area junior, described her first medal of her third state championship appearance. “I came in here (seeded) 12th. To leave with an eighth-place medal feels awesome. “It feels like first place.” Hazleton Area freshman Kayla Merkel certainly wasn't out of place in her first state competition, as she also captured an eighth-place medal in the girls Class 3A javelin throw. Dallas sophomore Katie Kravitsky started the Wyoming Valley's medal run by taking the area's highest finish with a fourth-place medal in the girls Class 3A high jump — one of the first events of the day. And Lake-Lehman freshman Emily Johns just missed the medal stand, reaching the finals of the girls Class 2A discus throw before finishing ninth. Johns looked pretty let-down by the result, but she'll have a couple more cracks at reaching the medal stand today — in Class 2A javelin and in shot put — where she's seeded seventh. Giambra will have an opportunity to collect a second medal today in the girls Class 3A triple jump — where she's also seeded 12th. But she wasn't about to let her first real crack at the medal stand slip away. The long-legged leaper hit a distance of 17-6 inches in one of her first jumps during the preliminary round, which put her in the state's final nine competitors. “And it carried over,” Giambra said. “I was confident it would carry over to the finals.” “It was a very good day for Olivia,” Pittston Area coach Joe Struckus said. “She was focused today. (It was) pretty much just (a result of) her work ethic. She's the last one in the pit every day.” Kravitsky was the fourth one on the Class 3A high jump medal stand. After missing out on a state award as a freshman during last year's state competiton, Kravitsky came back with a vengeance — hitting a height of 5-06. That was just shy of the 5-07 that earned Council Rock South's Shannon Taub a bronze medal for third place, but Kravitsky will take it. “It feels great,” said Kravitsky, who entered the high jump seeded third. “I didn't medal last year. I really wanted to jump 5-08 and get a second or third. I felt like I jumped OK, not as well as I wanted to. It was kind of rough, I almost didn't make it on 5-04. Walking away with a fourth-place medal wasn't too bad.” It certainly gave Dallas a good start to states. That was the only event of the weekend for Kravitsky — who batted a thousand in her state medal quest this year after tedious training with Dallas jump coach Ed Radzinski. Next up for the Mountaineers will be seniors Dominic Deluca and Regan Rome, who both carry high hopes into today's Class 3A boys and girls long-distance running events. “She did great,” Dallas coach Matt Samuel said of Kravitsky. “She's coming down here as a sophomore, that's a great feat for her. Her seed was pretty good and she jumped pretty well all season. It's nice to see. “Unbelievable.” By now, they're accustomed to marveling at Merkel in Hazleton. The freshman didn't take long to produce some magic during her first trip to states, nailing a javelin throw of 127-09 on her second attempt of preliminaries. That ended up as the state's eighth-best distance, but Merkel still had to finish in the top eight of the nine-member finals to make it to the medal stand. She shrugged off any hint of freshman jitters to get there. “I'm pretty happy. I got a medal,” Merkel said. “It felt good to know I was going into the top eight. I kept cool. I know a lot of people get nervous their first time here.” That was never a problem for Merkel. She started strong and had a solid finish, although the distance of her javelin throws dwindled as the day wore on. “We had to change her steps a little bit. She was throwing too far behind the line,” Hazleton Area throw coach Nick Guadiano said. “Her speed was a little down. But she should be very proud to come down here and take a medal as a ninth-grader. I felt she did rather well. It's her state of mind. “We're here really nervous and she's out there cool as a cucumber.” PIAA Track and Field Results of WVC competitors Class 3A Boys Discus: Anthony Khalife, Coughlin, 13th, 144-02. Triple Jump: Jermichael Bunch, Valley West, 22nd, 43-01.50. Class 2A Boys Shotput: James Sheridan, Hanover Area, 14th, 45-06. Class 3A Girls High Jump: Katie Kravitsky, Dallas, 4th, 5-06. Shot Put: Morgan Phillips, Tunkhannock, 26th, 30-04. Long Jump: Olivia Giambra, Pittston Area, 8th, 17-06. Javelin: Kayla Merkel, Hazleton Area, 8th, 127-09. Class 2A Girls Pole Vault: Olivia Magni, Northwest, no height. Discus: Emily Johns, Lake-Lehman, 9th, 118-06.