By Phil Grove
It appears nobody told Brianna Schwartz that you shouldn’t run a PR, let alone a state record, in the opening race of your indoor season.
Thank goodness for that.
File Photo from 2013 PTFCA Indoor State Championships by PTXC
Facing national-class competition, the junior standout from Shaler Area was in late-season form, breaking a Pennsylvania all-time record and running arguably the best double thus far in 2014. Schwartz won the 1,600 meters at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase in a US#3 4 minutes, 42.10 seconds, besting Angel Piccirillo’s indoor record from the 2012 state meet at Penn State.
“She looked fantastic,” Shaler Area coach Sam Bair said of Schwartz, whose run at the Ohio facility converts to a US#3 4:43.74 mile vs. the old state record of 4:44.20. “She makes a coach look good.”
Targeting 54-second laps on the 300-meter oval, Schwartz was out to finish her initial race of 2014 in 4:48 to 4:50, according to Bair. With fellow Foot Locker All-American Amelia Paladino giving chase, Schwartz took the lead from the gun and never looked back, running ahead of her goal pace and gaining about a second per 400 meters on the West Virginia senior.
Schwartz’s winning time was almost 5 seconds better than her former best of 4:47.07, which won the 2013 WPIAL 1,600 and led last year’s state rankings by several seconds. Paladino was second in a US#5 4:46.41 (US#5 4:48.07 mile), while sophomore Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny finished third in a PA#6 4:57.48 (PA#6 4:59.21 mile).
With recent sub-zero temperatures and plentiful snow cover forcing changes in training statewide, Schwartz also was entered in the 800 run for some additional work in advance of the Tri-State Coaches and state indoor championships, Bair said.
So about 65 minutes later, Schwartz toed the line in the first of two sections of the 800, along with Michigan’s Ersula Farrow, who entered the day at US#3, and the Villa Maria duo of Claire Brown and Grace Trucilla.
After the opening 400, Schwartz was at the back of the field but did not stay there long, charging toward the front and catching and passing all but Farrow. The end result was a US#1 2:10.17 for Farrow and a state-leading and US#4 2:10.77 for Schwartz, who narrowly missed another PR. Brown was third in a PA#4 2:14.78, while Trucilla was fourth in a PA#5 2:16.19.
Schwartz and the rest of western Pennsylvania’s best will look to heat up the Zafirovski Dome at Edinboro University next Saturday in the Tri-State Coaches meet. The junior is scheduled for both the 800 and 1,600 runs.