Summer break has begun and many athletes are now resting after a long track and field season, or even looking to cross country. However, several Pennsylvania athletes have chosen to prolong their track and field seasons to compete with the nation’s best at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina.
800 METER RUN
The 800m run will be an exciting race with several high-profile runners, not excluding ones from Pennsylvania. Sarah Walker, PA’s state leader in the 800m run, will look to turn in another big performance after running a US#6 2:06.62 at the PA Distance Festival almost two weeks ago. The sophomore has quickly become one of the best half-milers in the nation with her continual PRs this season—will the streak continue this weekend on her quest for a spot on the medal stand?
Walker will be joined by Shannon Quinn of Trinity, Meredith Newman of Manheim Township, and Grace Trucilla of Villa Maria (D10). Quinn has run a 2:11.91 this season and comes off a second place finish in the AA event at states. Newman boasts a 2:10.08 and also returns from a runner-up finish, but in the AAA 800m after being passed thirty meters from the finish line. Trucilla showed her fitness with an incredible nearly five-second PR at the PA Distance Festival, running a 2:10.56 for PA#6. None of these athletes are seniors, so it is exciting to see them compete on this level as a springboard to bigger things.
The event in which Pennsylvania typically shines will only feature one PA girl: sophomore Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny. She undoubtedly will represent Pennsylvania well and will aim for an All-American finish. Davison almost earned her first state title in the 1600m at the end of May, but was 0.11 second off, finishing in a very close second place to US#11 Brianna Schwartz (who will be competing in the Adidas Dream Mile). Davison set her PR 4:47.06 this season (over 26 seconds faster than her previous best), setting her up well to compete with the big dogs.
AA champion Central Columbia and AAA champion Hempfield will battle it out in the 4x100m relay. Central Columbia’s Ellen Shepard and Hempfield’s Jasmine Jones, two top PA 100m sprinters, will anchor their respective relays and make it a race. Ridley, racing as the Fantastic Four Track Club, will enter the 4x100m and 4x200m. The teams hold PA#11 and PA#8 in the relays, respectively. Episcopal Academy will compete in the 4x400m and 1600m SMR. Great Valley will enter the DMR, 4xMile, 4X400m, and 4x800m as the Chester Valley Running Club. Great Valley will be the sole PA representative in each of these relays—which is especially surprising in the 4x800m relay. After a historic AAA race at states with three teams under nine minutes (including Great Valley in third place and US#4 8:56.82!), the rest have chosen to end their seasons. Great Valley, however, surely will represent Pennsylvania well and will run hungry for an All-American finish. The task will not be easy with stiff competition in NJ powerhouses Freehold Township and the Penn Relays 4x800m champions Columbia, among others.
The high jump will be loaded with some of PA’s best high jumpers. AA champion Erika Voyzey is currently PA#4 with a 5-8 season best. Half of the AAA state medalists are also taking their leaps at All-American status, with Abby Jones, Shannon Taub, Katie Kravitsky, and Lilly Harnish entered to compete. With a PR, Jones (the AAA runner-up and PA#2 (5-9) from Franklin Area) could contend for a high finish.
Maddie Holmberg of Hempfield Area will look to leave her mark and improve on her ninth-place finish at NBNI this past winter. PA#1 and US#12, Holmberg’s 20-1 best could be enough to propel her to a spot on the medal stand. Her jumps have continually improved throughout her undefeated season thus far, her PR being at states when she earned her first state championship in the event. Holmberg will be joined by Dazjanique Williams of Cedar Cliff, who placed seventh at states in AAA.
Cumberland Valley senior Sarah Kosenske will enter the triple jump. The Mid-Penn Conference champ will look to end the season on a high note after a 14th place finish at states.
Northern’s Kennedy Shank has improved greatly this season and currently holds the PA#2 spot with a 12-6. Another PR and this junior may find herself a contender for a top performance. Tesia Kempski has also vaulted 12-6. Breanna Manzolillo has only vaulted 12-1 this season, but her recent state championship may provide the confidence and drive to compete well and PR this weekend.
Selingrove junior Courtney McCartney has had a stellar season thus far that consisted of multiple PRs and wins in the discus and shot put. She has been unbeatable in the shot put this season besides an impressive third-place finish at Penn Relays. McCartney won the shot at states and is currently US#6 in the event, setting her up well for an improvement on her seventh place finish at NBNO last year. Kailyn Clancy of California Area will also take a “shot” at a strong showing this weekend. Her recent state championship hopefully will propel her to a better place than last year.
The discus competition will be represented by McCartney, Slippery Rock’s Emily Campbell, and Boiling Springs’ Taylor Weiss. Campbell dominated the AAA discus at states and will seek a new PR in order to compete with the nation’s best. Weiss finished second to Campbell at states, but is ready for a breakthrough performance this weekend as she continues to improve.
Steph Sievers will make her national debut in the javelin competition. The Daniel Boone junior’s season is highlighted by trips to the medal stand at Penn Relays and states. She will be joined by Carissa Lorimer of Blue Mountain, who will look to end her season on a high note and improve on her fourteenth place finish last year.
Methacton juniors Jenny Martin and Nicolette Serratore will take it to another level and enter the heptathlon. Serratore placed eleventh in the seven-event competition last year. Both athletes have been priming themselves in each of the seven events to prepare themselves for strong performances.
EMERGING ELITE EVENTS
Shannon Quinn will double up with the EE 400m dash. With a 400m PR of 56.76 and an 800m PR of 2:11.91, the junior’s combination of speed and strength makes her a threat for the title.
In the 2mile run, sophomore Jerrica Bauer of George School will return to NBNO and strive for a performance to beat last year’s. Bauer placed third as a freshman; and with a PR of 11:01.43, a strong race under the 11-minute barrier may be what is needed to make her an even bigger competitor in the next two years. Elizabeth Morris of Central Bucks East will also compete after running 10:56 to a seventh place finish in the AAA 3200 at states.
Easton Area’s Ashley Williams is entered in the EE 100m hurdles. The senior broke 15 seconds for the first time this season and has continued to improve for a fourth place finish in her first outdoor state championship. Williams will strive to finish her high school career on a positive note.
George School, Chichester, and Episcopal Academy are entered in the EE 800m SMR. Episcopal also sends a 4x100m team for the EE race.
Pennsylvania will be well represented in the EE pole vault this year, with seven female athletes entered to compete. Erin Winters of Lebanon is currently PA#1 and improved by almost two feet this season. If the streak continues, Winters will be a tough contender this weekend. Winters will lead the other six PA competitors, who will also vie for top honors and new personal best marks.
In the jumps, PA will also leave its mark. Besides the high jump, her specialty event, Shannon Taub of Council Rock South will be looking to hone her skills in the long and triple jumps. Aghina Marshall of Methacton will also compete in the EE long and triple jumps, while Taub’s teammate, Jaclyn Timoney, is entered in just the EE triple jump. A personal best or a spot on the medal stand may be what Marshall needs after missing a medal at states. Lindsey Carl of Central Columbia was close to winning her first state championship in the high jump this spring, but had to settle for second. She has hit a season best in almost every meet this season, and another best at NBNO could put her at the top.
After medaling performances and PRs in the discus and shot at states, Greenwood senior Emily Fisher wishes to end her high school throwing career with a bang and enter NBNO to test her skills against the best of the best. She will be joined in both events by sophomore Cailen Blaire of Hickory, who missed medaling at states in the discus by two places. North Pocono freshman Jessica Slagus will be throwing the hammer, an event in which she is developing a future. It is said that one cannot improve without competition; and by accomplishing big things this weekend, these two underclassmen may be one step closer to moving to the next level in the sport. Anna Bailey has had a successful season thus far, finishing with a runner-up at states in the javelin. If she can improve on last year’s seventh place finish (in the elite race), the Bishop McDevitt senior surely will end her high school career on a happy note.
Many PA freshmen will look to begin or continue their high school success with this weekend. Emily Burd of Friends’ Central and Emma Planck are set to compete in the freshman mile, looking to impress in their national debuts and possibly even break five minutes. Hannah Sexton of Central Bucks West seeks redemption after missing states and has entered the freshman long and triple jumps.
200 METER DASH
State bronze medalist Xavier Smith of Daniel Boone will be the lone Pennsylvanian in the 200m dash. Smith holds US#6 with his season best 21.50 and will look to drop his time and finish his high school track career on a high note. Smith ran a PA#4 100m dash (10.67) at states for a runner-up finish, revealing his speed and fitness going into his final high school race.
Sam Ritz of Germantown Academy placed fifteenth in the NBNO mile last year, but is likely to drop his time and move up. Although his PR 4:11.73 is from over a year ago, Ritz showed he is still strong with a 4:13.35 at the PA Distance Festival a couple of weeks ago. He will be joined by Malvern Prep’s Jaxson Hoey. Just a sophomore, Hoey ran a 3:53.94 1500 at the PA Distance Festival, equivalent to about a 4:12.59 mile. Good races from these milers will put them in contention for top-six finishes.
With the graduation of two-time NBNO 110m hurdle champion Wellington Zaza of Garnet Valley, PA seeks a new representative in the event. AA state champion Austin Shupp will contest the 110m hurdles in hopes of a sub-fourteen second performance. If he achieves a breakthrough race, Shupp may find himself on the medal stand. He is also entered in the 400m hurdles. Mitch Valko of South Fayette HS placed first in the prelims and semi-finals at states, but fell to fifth in the finals. Valko likely will compete with a newfound hunger for redemption this weekend.
AA champion Bishop McDevitt will enter the 4x100m relay in pursuit of a strong race to continue its successful state meet. Imhotep High School will also join them after not competing in the state meet. No PA teams earned top-six honors in this event last year; to accomplish the feat this weekend, both teams will need to drop time and compete well. Imhotep is also entered in the 4x200m relay with a PA#5 1:30.88. Seneca Valley returns to the 4x800m after an eighth place finish and PA#8 7:51.13. Its PA rivals will not be in the race, so this is an opportunity for Seneca Valley to shine on the national stage. Cardinal O’Hara, the NBNI DMR champions, return for a repeat. The relay ran a US#11 10:11.17 at Penn Relays. However, its winning time at NBNI this past winter would place them at the top of the rankings, showing that it is capable of rising to the challenge.
Each jump will feature just one athlete to carry the torch for PA. Andrew Pancoast enters the high jump at the top of the PA rankings with a 6-10. This height or better may place Pancoast in the top six for an All-American honor. Austin Shupp will go from the hurdles to the triple jump. He has only jumped twice this season, earning a victory at the Colonial League Championships with a big PR. Shupp is ready for another breakthrough performance. Bobby Hill will cover the last jump—the long jump. He placed nineteenth at states and will look for a positive way to end the season.
Pole vault state champion Ryan Wilkes of Valley View enters his signature event. He is a threat to improve upon last year’s 24th place finish if all goes right for him.
PA is strong in the throws, and it will be represented well this year. Max Adams of Hempfield will compete in the discus and shot after winning both at states. He currently stands at US#7 in the discus and US#38 in the shot. With the right performance, Adams’ thirteenth place finish in the discus last year will be replaced with an All-American honor. David Lucas of Warwick will join Adams in the discus after a runner-up placing at states. The javelin will be thrown by Michael Marsack of Stroudsburg, Grant Smith of Hill School, and Nicholas Solfanelli of Scranton Prep. Solfanelli stands atop the PA rankings despite a major fluke at states, placing 23rd. This junior will be ready to prove his abilities and improve on his thirteenth place finish last year.
Colin Abert of Easton Area will try the EE mile at NBNO this weekend. After missing a qualification for finals at states last year, Abert did so this season with a PR and then went on to place fifth in AAA. The junior will look to continue this momentum for a strong performance to end the season.
In the relays, Downingtown West will enter the 4x200m and Schuylkill Valley will enter the 4x800m. Downingtown West has not raced the 4x200m since March, so its PA#40 1:35.06 likely will be shattered at NBNO. Schuylkill Valley ran an 8:03.56 at states and looks to be able to place high this weekend if all members race well.
Grayson Hill of Northeast, District 10 champion and eleventh place finisher at states, will enter the EE javelin event. With a big performance this weekend, Hill may be on his way to becoming the next big competitor in the event. Hill will lead four other Pennsylvanians in the event, all seeking personal bests and spots on the medal stand.
Matthew Slagus of North Pocono will compete in the hammer throw. Although he missed a state berth this season, he has competed and succeeded in national competitions such as NBIN and the Armory Youth Classic this past winter. The freshman placed sixth in the EE division of the weight throw at NBNI, so he will aim to improve on that finish this weekend.
Central Columbia’s Frankie Tewell is entered in the EE shot put. He holds a 51-11.5 best and finished in fifth place at states in the event. Another strong set this weekend will put Tewell at a good position as he enters his senior year.
In the jumps, Brandon Stanback of Bishop McDevitt and Julien Freeman of Harry S. Truman will compete in the triple jump. Both turned in sixteenth place finishes at states, in AA and AAA, respectively. Stanback will look for an impressive showing at his first national meet, while Freeman will try to end his high school career in a big way (also at his first national meet).
Frank Jackson of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy will test himself in the EE long jump at NBNO. The Inter-Ac runner-up has jumped 22-4 this season—a big breakthrough at the time. Another improvement at his first national meet will be a great way to end his senior season.
After missing a medal by one place in the high jump at states, Emmaus junior Scott Schlegel will seek one on the national level this weekend. He will be joined by Matthew Beck, the Northeastern senior who has greatly improved this season.
A group of freshmen will enter the class-specific events in pursuit of impressive performances. Nick Dahl will be completing the mile/2mile distance double. He is ranked US#12 among freshman milers and US#6 among freshman 3200m runners. Dahl will definitely a runner to watch for as he improves throughout his high school career. Mike Riddick of Downingtown West join two other PA freshmen in the 100m dash. Riddick competed in the freshman 60m dash at NBNI, but did not advance to finals. He will enter this weekend with that goal in mind.