By Cory Mull
100 – With Washington senior Alyssa Wise, who is the returning state champion and PA#1 returning, the question here begins with who can best challenger her. It could be Vincentian Academy’s Ally Bartoszewicz (12.20), or it could be Annville-Cleona freshman Reagan Hess, who owns a PA#3 time of 12.07 seconds. Ellen Shepard of Central Columbia, who finished seventh a year ago, is back, as is Essence Barron of New Brighton. Or it could be Central Columbia frosh Hannah Klingerman. Three seniors graduated from the top eight in 2014, but we have four potential place-winners ready to fill in the ranks. Sophomore Jameela Muhammad of Paul Robeson, fifth a season ago, owns a PA#5 time of 12.27 while Elmer Meyers freshman Nalaysia Johnson isn’t far behind with a 12.34 second mark. Iroquois sophomore Alexis Cadden (12.5) and Lancaster Mennonite junior Lindsey Kreider (12.51) could also be in the mix.
200 – Three medal winners are back from a year ago. A fourth, Alyssa Wise of Washington, was the champ in 2013, running 25.14. This season, she owns a PA#1 of 24.73 but has opted for the 100. Beyond Wise, though, lies Vincentian Academy’s Ally Bartoszewicz, seeded at a quick 24.99, along with Paul Robeson's Jameela Muhammad (25.23), who did not earn a medal a season ago. Harrisburg Christian junior Nicole Leonzo (25.40) could make a run, as could General McLane’s Bethany Evankovich (25.52) and Paul Robeon’s Quadaisha Newkirk. Others to note include Annville-Cleona’s Reagan Hess (25.59), Central Columbia’s Ellen Shepard (25.67) and New Brighton’s Essence Barron (25.94).
400 – It’s a wide open race in the quarter-mile, with Harrisburg Christian’s Nicole Leonzo the favorite on paper with a PA#1 time of 56.16 seconds. However, she finished just seventh a year ago, behind Beaver Area’s Ruthe Neeley (PA#3, third in 2013) and Paul Robeson’s Quadaisha Newkirk (PA#4, fourth in 2013) and General McLane’s Bethany Evankovich (PA#5, fifth in 2013). This one could be interesting from the start. Others to note include Salisbury Township’s Lindsay Bauer (58.39). Springfield’s Sydni Stovall (58.55) and Northern Bedford’s Whitley Furry (58.82) could also challenge.
100 Hurdles – The hurdles always present an interesting mix of competitors. Because while times set some apart, the actual qualifiers for the 100-meter hurdle finals are always a mixed bag, depending on how well those raced to get there. We know this: returning state runner-up Emily Lelis of Springdale is back with a PA#2 time of 14.46. Paul Robeson’s Markeeta Thomas, who was third, leads with a PA#1 time of 14.37. Lakeland’s Cassidy Jenkins, with a PA#3 of 14.57, was fourth in 2013. Harbor Creek’s Sophie Mazza, who has a PA#4 of 14.93, did not qualify a year ago. Is this not compelling stuff, or what? Bloomsburg’s Britni Phillips (15.05), Paul Robeson’s Quadaisha Newkirk (15.18), Sewickley Academy’s Aja Thorpe (15.18) and Mercer Area’s Megan McKinney (15.22) could all very well be in the hunt, too.
300 Hurdles – The top two finishers from a season ago are back, and we could have quite a battle here. Paul Robeson’s Markeeta Thomas was second in 2013, but enters with the PA#1 time of 43.32 seconds. Returning state champion Emily Lelis of Springdale arrives with the PA#4 time of 44.33 seconds. Engineering & Science’s Tehya Noell is certainly a contender with a PA#2 of 43.84, while Maria Fleck of Mohawk’s PA#3 of 44.05 is no joke, either. Contenders include Sayre Area’s Elyse Skerpon(45.02), Lakeland’s Cassidy Jenkins (45.06), Sewickley Academy’s Aja Thorpe (45.17) and Ligonier Valley’s Jasmine Connor (45.27).
4x100 Meter Relay – With Swenson Arts & Tech. failing to qualify in 2014, there will be a new 400-meter relay champion. That much we know. But at this point, it really could be anybody. Will it be Central Columbia’s PA#1 time of 48.51 or Paul Robeson’s PA#2 of 48.56? What about Schuylkill Valley, who enters with a 49.26, or Washington High, who’s not far behind at 49.57? Heck, it’s not even out of the question that Elmer L. Meyers (50.00), Neumann Goretti (50.21), Burrell (50.57), or Vincentian Academy (50.82) could make a push. All that matters is qualifying for the finals.
4x400 Meter Relay – Seeds can be misleading. On paper, Neumann Goretti enters as the top seed with a time of 4:00.51. But in reality, they may be the slight underdog against Paul Robeson, who enters with an actual PA#1 time of 3:55.04. Central Columbia will put in a fight, too, with a PA#3 of 4:01.07. Beaver Area (4:01.18), Wyomissing (4:01.37) and Burrell (4:02.20) could also contend for a high medal. Other challengers include Villa Maria Academy (4:034.61), Vincentian Academy (4:02.14) and Washington (4:04.32).
4x800 Meter Relay – Last year’s state champion, Villa Maria Academy, returns as the top seed with a PA#1 time of 9:29.42. But this could be a thrilling race to behold, considering Lewisburg enters with a PA#2 of 9:30.43 and Trinity isn’t far behind with a PA#3 of 9:38.56. Villa Joseph Marie (9:38.98), Montoursville (9:39.60), Quaker Valley (9:40.55), Wilson Area (9:41.10) and Mount Carmel (9:42.26) could all very well be battling for third through eighth place. Expect some excitement.
800 Meter Run – Expect a great race here, with the top three finishers from a year ago back. Returning state champion Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic has proven this year that she’s in form with a PA#1 best of 2:09.23, though don’t count out runner-up Shannon Quinn of Trinity, who’s best of 2:11.91 isn’t far behind. Villa Marie Academy’s Claire Brown is further down the chart at 2:16.65, though she was third in 2013 and considered a threat. Teammate Grace Trucilla (2:16.65) could also contend, as will Lewisburg’s Jenna Farmer (2:15.90), who’s just four years removed from three-time state champion Kalyn Fisher. Other contenders of note include Hamburg’s Karlie Heistand (2:18.65), Montoursville’s Alexis Weisser (2:19.39) and Springfield’s Sydni Stovall (2:19.78).
1,600 Meter Run – Just three medal winners from 2013, including state champion Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic, are back in the mile. This seems like Weisner’s race to lose, as she enters with a PA#1 leading 4:49.27, which is seven seconds better than Saucon Valley’s Elizabeth Chikotas (4:56.90), a medal winner in the 3,200 in 2013. From there, it could be a rush for third and fourth. Avonworth’s Beth Shenck owns the PA#3 time of 5:02.14, while Camp Hill’s Zoe Matherne is PA#4 with a 5:03.37. Lewisburg’s Jenna Farmer (5:08.18) and Hamburg’s Karlie Heistand (5:08.32) should be contenders, while Boiling Springs’ Leanne Weaver (5:12.98) and Bellwood Antis’ Ellen Cook (5:13.31) could also challenge.
3,200 Meter Run – Is this the year for Saucon Valley’s Elizabeth Chikotas? After finishing as the runner-up in 2013, just three seconds behind Adair Gennocro, Chikotas enters as the prohibitive favorite, with nearly a six second gap on the next fastest competitor in the 3,200. That said, Vincentian Academy’s Marianne Abdalah (10:45.54) could provide some stiff competition. And so could Victoria Dippold, of Elk County Catholic, who enters with a 10:54.93 second time. But this seems like the year for Chikotas, with her PA#1 time of 10:39.523. Contenders for medals include Camp Hill’s Zoe Matherne (11:14.25), eighth-place finisher in 2013 Lizzie Manickas of Nesshannock (11:16.55) and Holy Cross’ Tess Kearns (11:20.50). Maddison Landiso of Christopher Dock owns the PA#7 time of 11:21.01 and Hannah Dorian of Westmont Hilltop has a PA#8 mark of 11:22.96.
High jump – Tyrone Area’s Erika Voyzey, following a sixth-place performance in 2013 with a leap of 5-2, has significantly improved. She enters with a co-PA#1 leap of 5-8, tied with Notre Dame Green Pond’s Julie Romich. But the high jump is always a mixed bag, and this year should be no different. Mount Pleasant’s enters with a PA#3 leap of 5-7, while Paul Robeson’s Markeeta Thomas, Penn Cambria’s Marissa Myers and Central Columbia’s Lindsey Carl all enter with a mark of 5-4.
Pole vault – Pole vault could come down to the right strategy. With four girls’ over 11-6, and just two having secured leaps over 12-feet, it might be a question of when to come in and what exact pole to use at what height. Bishop McDevitt’s Tesia Kempski, who no heighted in 2013, enters with a PA#1 of 12-6 and Schuylkill Valley’s Bre Manzolillo, last year’s runner-up, follows with a PA#2 mark of 12-1. They could be the key contenders here. But Salisbury Township’s Kaitlyn Toman owns a 11-9 leap and Annville-Cleona’s Samantha Becker, third a year ago, isn’t far behind at 11-6. The top 8 in the state all have marks over 11-0.
Triple jump – Johnsonburg’s Gabbi Benninger, who was the state runner-up last year and enters with a PA#6 mark of 36-10.5, is the only medal winner to return here. So the event will be an interesting makeup of competitors. Bloomsburg’s Britni Phillips enters as the favorite with a PA#1 mark of 38-5, while Lakeland’s Brooke Estadt follows close behind at 37-5.25. Triple Jump is all about getting an early – sorry for the pun – jump in the preliminaries, so that could be key here. Coudersport’s Jenna Gabreski enters with the PA#4 mark of 37-3, while Wellsboro’s Jada Jackson sits at 37-1 and Erika Miller, of Schuylkill Valley, owns a mark of 36-10.5. Wilmington’s Hanna Drake is also in the mix with a mark of 36-10.25.
Long jump – State runner-up Essence Barron of New Brighton is back, and could claim the top prize here. Coudersport’s Jenna Gabreski, who owns a PA#1 mark of 18-2, sits low in the seed list but could be considered the favorite here. Salisbury Township’s Lindsay Bauer enters with a PA#2 of 18-1.5, while Annville-Cleona’s Reagan Hess isn’t too far behind with a 18-0.75, which she completed at the District 3 Championships. Vincentian Academy’s Kayla Key enters as the third seed at 17-8.25. The top eight jumpers in the state all have secured leaps over 17-5, so it could be an interesting field. Other contenders include Lower Moreland’s Jamie Givnish (17-10.25), Schuylkill Valley’s Erika Miller (17-9), Boiling Springs’ Abby Martin (17-8.5) and Christopher Dock’s Bailey Kratz (17-5.25).
Shot Put – Returning state champion Kailyn Clancy of California is back for her senior year, and she enters with a PA#1 of 46-10. She could be challenged by Chartiers Houston’s Addy Kenzter, who was eighth a year ago and enters with a PA#2 42-10. Slippery Rock’s Emily Campbell (41-11), Burrell’s Lizzie Weimer (40-8), Kane Area’s Morgan Nicholson (39-8) and Annville-Cleona’s Avree Wright (39-4.75) all could provide stiff competition. Not to be forgotten are Wilmington’s Julie Falvo (38-10.5) and Lake Lehman’s Emily Johns (38-5).
Discus – State runner-up Carter Green from North Schuylkill and third-place performer Julie Falvo from Wilmington both return, but it’s Slippery Rock’s Emily Campbell, with a PA#1 throw of 148-3, that could be the next best favorite to take the discus title. Boiling Spring’s Taylor Weiss, PA#2 with a heave of 138-10, is also in the hunt. Green’s PA#3 of 134-0 and Falvo’s PA#4 of 133-2 will need to make up ground to get on Campbell’s level. Other contenders include California Area’s Kailyn Clancy (131-6), Greenwood’s Emily Fishers (130-7), Greenville’s Molly Montalvo (129-4) and Lake Lehman’s Emily Johns (126-11).
Javelin – Returning state champion Jenna Lucas, with a PA#1 of 157-4, should be the prohibitive favorite here, with a mark 10 feet farther than her winning attempt a year ago. Tamaqua’s Paige Demetriades PA#2 mark of 144-1 should be considered a threat too, because really, you can never count out anyone from Tamaqua in the javelin. Bishop McDevitt’s Anna Bailey enters with a PA#3 of 140-5, while Kane Area’s Morgan Nicholson has a 139-10. Other contenders include Redbank Valley’s Brooke Hinderliter (139-9), South Side’s Cheyenne Winkle (137-3), Elk Lake’s Taylor Watkins (133-0) and Tamaqua’s Morgan Boyle at 131-3.