4x800 Meter Relay
For the second year running, the top team in the state has broken 9 minutes. US#1 Great Valley ran 8:58.98 to win the District 1 4x800 meter relay. Last year they were behind Central Bucks South who also ran 8:58 on their way to the state record of 8:51.49. That day, Great Valley ran 8:56.82 and were 3rd. This year they are favorites. They have medaled 6th in 2012, 2nd in 2013, and 3rd in 2014. Gold would cap off a great 3 year run.
Out to spoil it for the favorites are North Penn, who were former PA#1s in April. They've run 9:02.86 for US#4 honors. Unionville ran 9:09.01 for 3rd at district 1 and have a lot of big race experience from the past two years. Away from District 1, Wilson (3) made the Penn Relays Championship America finals with the aforementioned teams and ran 9:12.05 at district 3. Mount Lebanon spent 48 hours as the state's best team with their 9:13.22 at District 7. For an event that has always taken a special performance to win the title, this year's race should be no exception.
100 Meter Hurdles
It will be finesse vs power one last time. It's the rematch we have been waiting for since Sierra Brabham-Lawrence clipped the last hurdle in the indoor 60 meter hurdles to open the door for Ciara Leonard to win the title and clinch the state record. Fast forward to the present and those two are favorites to win the outdoor 100 meter hurdles. Cheltenham's Leonard has the fastest time in the state at a US#13 13.65.
Harrisburg's Brabham-Lawrence is US#22 at 13.80. They were 1-2 last season and are favored to repeat the feat. But should they slip up, Mahendra McWhite of Dieruff, bronze medalist Aspen Gaita of Stroudsburg, Madison Langley-Walker of Cheltenham, and Katie Dodson of Oxford Area will be ready to pounce on the opening.
100 Meter Dash
The five best underclassmen in 2014 are all back as the top five sprinters in PA this season! The 5th best of that group at states last season, Jaylyn Aminu of Liberty, is now on top of the state with an 11.77 from the District 11 championships. Chanel Brissett of Cheltenham has spent the most time on top of that list, but the 2014 bronze medalist is currently PA#2 at 11.84. 2014 silver medalist Dasia Pressley of Pennsbury has run 11.92 in a close losing effort to Brissett at District 1. Taylor Chapman of Pennridge and the best sprinter in Western PA for two years running, Lauren Costa of West Allegheny, carry 11.94 seasonal bests. With so little separating these five sprinters, it's anybody's title to win. Brissett will want to keep the gold medal in house after Katelyn Jackson's win last year. But the rest of the field have yet to taste outdoor gold, and for Chapmand and Costa, this is their last chance to get it. Janaya Webb of Norristown spent a brief time at PA#1 in the cold weeks of April and has shown that she can run with the experienced sprinters.
1600 Meter Run
The two time defending champion, Brianna Schwartz, is out of this one, meaning we are guaranteed a new champion. However, the contenders for that gold medal have struggled to break away from the pack. The 2014 silver medalist is also out, as Madeleine Davison has opted to run the 3200. But Kelsey Potts of Mount Lebanon, the bronze medalist, will run the event. Potts has run 4:56.19 for a full mile earlier this month and has been consistent throughout the season. Marissa Sheva of Pennridge has the top 1600 in the state (4:51.73 on April 30) and she is only running the 1600 this year. She was 6th a year ago after winning the 3200 meter run. Mady Clahane of Cumberland Valley (4:53.74), and the Pennsbury duo of Olivia Sargent (4:54.15) and Mary Webb (4:59.49) have also broken the five minute mark this season. With the exception of Webb, the top contenders have plenty of big race experience, making it difficult to determine who may actually win this title.
4x100 Meter Relay
The top three in the state are all from the same district and will have one more shot at each other at states. Cheltenham (46.88) got the best of Norristown (47.12) and Pennsbury (47.21) at districts. Cheltenham also had the fastest time at the Penn Relays. All three teams have incredible star power, with Chanel Brissett leading Cheltenham, Janaya Webb leading Norristown, and Dasia Pressley leading Pennsbury. Christina Johnson will lead former PA#1 squad Susquehanna Township in hopes of causing an upset. They were 3rd in 2014. Penncrest (6th) and North Penn (5th) made the medal stand last season and are in a great position to repeat that feat.
400 Meter Dash
McKenna Keegan of Avon Grove is back to defend her 400 meter title. Her improvement to a state leading 54.84 coincides with her massive improvement in the 800 meter run, where she has the 2nd best time in the state at 2:08.35. She edged out a narrow win over Uche Nwogwugwu of North Penn (54.85) with a lean at the line at District 1. Ty'Asia Dansbury of Harrisburg has been phenomenal in the 400, recording a season best 55.10. She hasn't lost very many races this season, so she will expect to be in the mix for the gold. Alysha Evans of Susquehanna Township was close to Dansbury at District 3, running 55.59. Freshman Alexis Crosby of Cheltenham will look to earn her first outdoor medal. She has come on strong on the 2nd half of the season, running 55.66 at district 1. This group has shown that they can dig deep and find the energy needed to get the win. Keegan will be favored, but unlike last season where she was the top runner by a long shot, the field has improved with her.
300 Meter Hurdles
Due to ACL surgery in September, the defending champion Maddy Holmberg of Hempfield (7) will not be competing in the 300 meter hurdles. We will have a new champion in the event, but this event is one of the few that will not have a clear favorite. Sierra Brabham-Lawrence has the best time in AAA with her district winning time of 42.68. She struggled to 8th place in the finals a year ago, but her fitness this season suggests that won't happen this time around. 2014 silver medalist Kat Quigley of Pine-Richland has run 42.78 this season, her first time under 43 seconds. Uche Onuoha of Pennsbury spent some time at the top of the state list and is the district 1 champion. She ran 42.78 in early May. She was 7th a year ago. Another former state leader, Maddy Mueseler of Greater Latrobe, was 5th at states last year and is unbeaten this season with a season best of 42.70. May the athlete to record the cleanest race win!
800 Meter Run
Slowly but surely, defending champion Maddie Villalba of Central Bucks West has put herself in pole position for a successful title defense. The junior has come on at the right time to record the 2nd fastest time in AAA (2:09.47), and her best time is nearly four seconds better than the chase pack. The chase pack also lacks big meet experience. Agnes Mansaray of Penn Wood has been on a roll this spring and ran a lifetime best 2:13.22. Olivia Arizin of Cardinal O'Hara ran run 2:13 twice in a week and they have been in solo efforts. A big performance is a big meet is all that is missing from the star sophomore. Anna Juul of Unionville (2:13.68) and 2014 silver medalist Meredith Newman of Manheim Township (2:13.84) have dipped under 2:14 this season. Villalba has been tough to beat this spring, but just like she surprised everyone at states a year ago, someone can always do that this time around.
200 Meter Dash
For the first time since mid-April, Ty'Asia Dansbury is not the state leader in the 200. Dasia Pressley of Pennsbury edged out Chanel Brissett of Cheltenham in the District 1 final 24.00 to 24.03 to earn the top spot. Pressley was 2nd in this event last season ahead of Brissett (5th), Taylor Chapman (4th) and Alicia Collier of Penncrest (8th). Dansbury has a season best of 24.13 and has yet to lose this season in the event. Janaya Webb of Norristown will once again look to break in amongst the veteran sprinters. Between Pressley and Chapman, the top five have all run under 24.60 this season. Fine margins and the little things will crown the champ!
3200 Meter Run
The defending champion, Marissa Sheva, has opted to run the 1600. Lizzie Morris of Central Bucks East (7th) is the only returning medalists. The top seven in the state have zero seniors. Aislinn Devlin of Downingtown West ran a state leading 10:32.66 to win the Henderson Invite on May 1, the biggest win of her young career. That field had the likes of Olivia Sargent (AAA#3 10:36.35) and Hannah Molloy of Pennsbury (AAA#4 10:41.14) and Ally Rome of Dallas (AAA#6 10:45.38). They will all be there on Saturday as well looking for the title. Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny will feel confident heading into this race, as she won't have Brianna Schwartz to chase down and has yet to lose this season. She ran 10:35.55 at District 7 for the 2nd fastest time in the division. The top seven in the state have run under 10:47, which has guaranteed a medal in recent history. But this group are also capable of a sub 10:30 or even a sub 10:20, which gets them into record territory.
4x400 Meter Relay
This relay should be a lot of fun to watch, as the creams of the crop in this event are all capable of winning the championship. Cheltenham has the best time in the division at 3:47.67 from the Penn Relays. But with all the rounds the members of that team will be running in the two days, the chase pack will feel they have a chance. North Penn (3rd in 2014) have been in PA#1 spot and made the Penn Relays Championship of America. They have a season best 3:51.56. Central Bucks South have come on strong in the crunch time portion of the season, running 3:51.42 in the district 1 prelims. Harrisburg has Dansbury on the anchor and a powerful Brabham-Lawrence to give them two strong legs that can keep their team in the race. Gwynedd Mercy Academy (4th in 2014) are the surprise package of the bunch with their incredible spring season. And last but not least, the champions Central Bucks West will look to be there to put up a strong fight for their crown.
When the season started, this event was written off as a 3rd straight gold medal for Cyre Virgo of Fleetwood Area. Even after her 5-10.50 win at the Penn Relays, that was still the case. But in the last two weeks, she has suffered her first defeats against PA competition in 3 years! She has cleared 5-4 and 5-3 in those appearances. But her big meet pedigree over the years will suggest that she will not go down without a strong fight.
The chase pack are all in good form, with Abby Jones of Franklin Area and Katie Kravitsky of Dallas clearing 5-9 in recent weeks, and Shannon Taub of Council Rock South and Jessica Stever of Indiana Area clearing 5-8. The top seven from last year are all back, with Jones, Taub, and Kravitsky going 2-3-4 behind Virgo a year ago. Lily Harnish of Waynesboro was 6th a year ago and was the District 3 champion with a 5-6 clearance over Virgo. Julie Baxter of Butler and Victoria Matthews are Abington round out the 2014 medalists looking for more hardware this weekend.
We have a Penn Relays rematch on our hands, as newly minted AAA performer Tesia Kempski of Bishop McDevitt and State College senior Megan Fry will square off once again. Kempski medaled in AA a year ago, while Fry missed the medal stand. Fry has the best mark in the state at 12-9, while Kempski has cleared 12-4 along with 4th place medalist Erin Winters of Lebanon. Kennedy Shank of Northern was 2nd in this event a year ago and has cleared 11-9 this season along with the Council Rock South duo of Dominique Franco and Savannah Wood, Jordan Hess of Penn Manor, and Ellie Bennett of Crestwood.. Lucianne Burner of North Pocono has a 12-3 clearance to her name, while Greeg Gumbrect of Easton has an 11-10 clearance on the season.
Once again, champion Maddie Holmberg will not defend her crown, but a new crop of long jumpers will be looking for their first medals in the event. Khyasi Caldwell-Adams of Pocono Mountain East was the first to break the 19 foot barrier in April, and she has done it 3 times this season! 7th place medalist Dazjanique Williams of Cedar Cliff is the other 19 foot performer in PA, achieving that feat at the Mid Penn conference meet (19-0.50). Veronika Karpenko of State College jumped 18-11.50 at Shippensburg in April and has had a big season. Jodan Luciano of Easton popped a big 18-7 at the District 11 championships, while Val McLaughlin of Ridley, indoor champion Madison Langley-Walker of Cheltenham, and Aspen Gaita of Stroudsburg have all jumped over 18-5.50 for big personal bests.
This event appeared to be a runaway in the early part of the season, with indoor champion and defending outdoor champion Sierra Brabham-Lawrence jumping over 39 feet in mid-April. Then the District 6 meet happened and the 2014 bronze medalist Veronika Karpenko jumped a huge personal best of 39-9 to take the state lead. The head to head match-up between these two should be exciting, with one of them potentially reaching the 40 foot mark!
Should they slip up, Katy Alberici of Susquehanna Township will lead a chase pack ready to pounce. Alberici had a big winter and has popped one big jump this season. Another big one could put her in the mix for the title. Allison Williams and Uche Nwoguwgwu of North Penn finished 1-2 at District 1 at 38-5 and 38-4 respectively. Their teamwork could make their dream of going 1-2 indeed work. Alexis Auman of Selinsgrove (38-1.75) and Lily Harnish of Waynesboro (38-1) are the other 38 foot plus jumpers in the field.
In the blink of an eye, the favorite switched from Emily Stauffer of Cocalico to defending champion Courtney McCartney of Selinsgrove. Stauffer got the best of McCartney at states, but since recovering from an ankle injury, McCartney has found the form that got her close to the 50 foot mark at last year's state meet. At District 4, McCartney threw 49-5.75, the exact same mark she threw at states 12 months ago. Perhaps the meet record of 50-1.25 may have a shot to go down after all. Chasing them will be 2014 silver medalist Jocelen Ruth of Kutztown Area, Janese Lynch of Academy Park and Nina Gambacorta of Garnet Valley.
McCartney's recovery from injury has shot her up to the AAA #2 spot in the discus. She finished 4th in this event a year ago. But just like she pulled a big throw at her district meet in the shot put, Emily Johns of Lake Lehman had a similar result in this event at District 2. The sophomore threw an 8 foot personal best of 148-6 to record the best mark in the state by six feet. Jocelen Ruth is the closest competitor to these two, as she has thrown 138-9 this season.
If you get the chance, take a few minutes to check out the AAA girls javelin and the national record holder Madison Wiltrout of Connellsville. The sophomore threw 185-8 at the WPIAL AAA Central Regional Qualifier on May 7, and then she followed that up with a 181 foot throw at the District 7 championship. Making it two titles in a row should be the surest thing of the girls state championship. What mark will she throw will be the big question. It could be another national record, so make sure you check out the event if you have a chance. Steph Sievers of Daniel Boone (7th in 2014) has thrown 149-9 for the 2nd best mark in the division. Jocelen Ruth has thrown 146-2, while Brooke Cope of Jim Thorpe is other 140 foot plus thrower in the field at 143-3.