It was snowy and cold outside, but it was scorching hot inside at the Ashenfelter Center for a Sunday special edition of the PTFCA Indoor State Championships! The athletes were on fire all day from the first race all the way to the very last race, and we had a state record, several US#1s, and a few very tight finishes!
The first of many anticipated match ups took place in the girls’ 60 meter hurdles as the top two from last year met in the final, Sierra Brabham-Lawrence of Harrisburg and Ciara Leonard of Cheltenham. In the build up to that final, Brabham-Lawrence of Harrisburg equaled Leonard’s all time state record in the event in the semifinals, running 8.40, breaking her own meet record of 8.45 in the process. In the final itself, the two of them were neck and neck. Leonard wanted to win the state title she missed out on last season, while Brabham-Lawrence wanted to keep it. In the end, Brabham-Lawrence clipped the final hurdle, opening the door for Leonard’s to win the race and take the all-time state record for herself, running a T-US#1 8.39! Brabham-Lawrence had to settle for 2nd.
Leonard then took part in the Cheltenham 4x200 meter relay, who made the championship race look easy in defending their state title, running a new meet record of 1:39.58, breaking Swenson’s record set two years ago. Chanel Brissett was a member of that relay, and she added to her relay gold medal with a dominant performance in the 60 meter dash, cruising through all three rounds to win in 7.47, good for a share of the US#6 position.
About 20 minutes after the 60 meter hurdles battle, we had another heated battle, this time in the 800 meter run, as Friends League rivals Gabrielle Wilkinson of Friends Central and Sarah Walker of Germantown Friends squared off in their main event. Very little separated the two throughout the race. Even when Wilkinson looked to make a move to put away Walker, it didn’t work. The two of them ended up neck and neck coming down the final stretch, and the finish was so close, that it took nearly 30 seconds to determine who won the championship. In the end, Wilkinson was granted the .006 second victory over Walker, with both runners getting credited with a T-US#4 2:09.56!
Brooklynn Broadwater of Springside Chestnut Hill was at her best all day long, having one of the best meets of her career. The junior started her day with a successful title defense of her 400 meter title in a lifetime and US#5 54.73, the fastest 400 meter time indoors Kenya Woodall ran 55.88 back in 2012! Later, she pulled of a minor upset in the 200 meter dash, winning the state title out of the 4th heat of 5, running 24.52 to win her first career 200 meter state title. To cap off her day, she ran a strong anchor leg on her state leading 4x400 meter relay team, leading her team to victory in 3:52.33.
Marissa Sheva of Pennridge and Olivia Sargent of Pennsbury went head to head in the mile. Sheva had the better seed time, but Sargent was on a good run of form in the past few weeks. Sheva was looking for a good performance and a chance to win back the gold medal she didn’t get the chance to defend last season. After battling for most of the race, Sheva made a move on Sargent in the final two laps and never looked back, as she won her 2nd career indoor mile state title in 4:54.46, to win by a second and a half.
The girls 3000 meter run had only two seniors in the 12 person field, and the race was ultimately dominated by junior Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny. Davison went through the 1600 in about 5:06 and then she went on to run the 2nd half of the race on her own. When the gold medal was officially hers, she reclaimed the US#1 spot in the 3000 meter run with a new personal best of 9:47. Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley finished 2nd in a US#3 9:55.57, while Hannah Molloy of Pennsbury had the best race of her career, running a US#4 9:56.20 to finish 3rd. PA now has half of the US top 10 in the event!
In the 4x800 meter relay, Great Valley entered the most experienced team in the field, and that experience was handsomely rewarded with a long awaited gold medal. Great Valley led for most of the race, and when the field tried to get back in the race, Crosby Spiess put the race to bed on the anchor leg, bringing home the gold in 9:22.52.
The distance medley relay was a hotly contested race. Coming all the way down to the final two laps of the race, six teams were in contention for the championship. But the X-factor in the race was waiting in the wings, waiting to make the move necessary to win the title. That person was Kelsey Potts of Mount Lebanon. Potts had the luxury of being the only anchor leg with a sub 5 minute mile on the season, and she took full advantage of it, making a big move on the final turn to bring home the championship for her team in 12:09.05.
In the field events, it appeared the clock had turned back a couple of years in a pair of the field events.
Cyre Virgo of Fleetwood Area won the state title in the high jump in 2013. Last year, she not enter the competition, forfeiting the chance to defend her title. This year, she made her return to the state meet and she extended her undefeated streak against PA athletes to nearly 3 years, winning her 2nd indoor title with a clearance of 5-8.
Emily Stauffer of Cocalico was also looking to before a two time champion after she was physically unable to defend her title last year. After 11 meets and 9 victories after shoulder surgery 13 months ago, Stauffer made the 10th win of her season the biggest of them all, reclaiming her state title with a throw of 47 feet even! The 2014 champion, Courtney McCartney of Selinsgrove, had to settle for 3rd beind Elena Marchand of Hickory.
Despite clipping the final hurdle in the finals, Sierra Brabham-Lawrence of Harrisburg did get a gold medal on the day, winning the girls triple jump after running away from the field in her very first jump. When it was said and done, Brabham-Lawrence won with a mark of 40-1.50.
In the long jump, freshman Madison Langley-Walker of Cheltenham continued her good streak of jumping by surprising the field in winning the gold medal with a mark of 17-11, which was just .25 inches better than Ariana Przybylowski of Pennridge. This was Przybylowski’s 2nd straight top three finish at states in the long jump.
In the pole vault, the state’s best vaulter from day one, Tesia Kempski of Bishop McDevitt, kept that spot on the day it mattered most, securing the pole vault title, clearing 12 feet, the only one to achieve that mark on the day.
Cheltenham retained their team title with 64 points!