The sun was setting beyond the backstretch bleachers and the temperatures were dropping on Friday night at the Millersville University-hosted Cy Fritz Open. It had been a busy last few days for Warwick's Leah Graybill, but the junior -- who had already dropped serious time since last year in the sprints -- was ready for one last race of the week.
It turned out to be her best.
Graybill closed out the meet in the 200 meters, winning in 24.94. She made up the stagger before the midway point of the race and rounded the corner well ahead of the field, as she powered down the homestretch. Her time makes her just the third girl in PA this year to go sub-25 in the 200.
Earlier in the day, she went 12.35 to win the 100 meters and she supplied a leadoff leg on Warwick's winning 4x100-meter relay, which clocked a school record and PA#6 of 48.79. A day before on Thursday at the Penn Relays across the state in Philadelphia, the Warwick girls' 4x400-meter relay went 3:54.81, a PA#5.
"I felt good the entire 200 meters," Graybill said after her race at Cy Fritz. "It's a major PR for me, which is really exciting especially after the Penn Relays yesterday and the 100 and 4x1 today. It felt really good to be successful in that, too."
She didn't think she had it in her coming into the race: "I was really surprised by that (time). I felt kind of tired before it, but I just gave it all I had left," she said.
She now sits at PA#2 in the 100 meters (#1 in AAA) and PA#3 in the 200 meters (#2 in AAA) heading into the final month of the PIAA season. It has been a terrific improvement since her sophomore year. She credits that drop in time to her teammates.
"They are the reason I'm doing as well as I am," Graybill said, referring to the sophomore trio of Lily Palacio-Lewis, Meghan Quinn, and Cassidy Kline. "We push each other all the time and they're my toughest competition."
Nothing like a bit of intra-squad competition to ignite a young team.
Those relays have become a serious threat in Pennsylvania. Warwick's sprint relays both land in the top six in PA through April and lead the way in District 3-AAA. Friday was just the second time Warwick ran its full 'A' squad in the 4x1 and it broke the school record by over a second.
For Graybill, motivation this season isn't hard to find. At outdoor states last spring, the then-sophomore placed ninth in the AAA 200 meters, just missing the finals and thus a state medal. The same thing happened at indoor states in the 60 meters, where she placed ninth in the semifinals.
"Ninth place really sucks because it's so close, but, like, not," she said with a laugh.
But now Graybill sits well inside the top eight in a pair of individual events as the calendar prepares to flip over to May. She's in a position where she can look beyond simply getting a medal. The same can be said about the relays.
Next up for Graybill and her Warwick teammates is Friday's Hoka One One Henderson Invitational, where they will be sure to see some top District 1 sprinters and more.
In spite of some rough weather to start the spring season, Graybill is well ahead of schedule compared to a year ago and ready for more.
Watch our full interview with Graybill at the Cy Fritz Open: