Championship season is here and anyone attending the show at State College will be treated to a slew of exciting races and field competitions. Twelve of the 22 track events feature US Top-10 times and 8 out of the 10 field events feature US Top-10 marks. So once again, I attempt to analyze the unpredictable world of high school track and field and point out the events that will be thrilling to watch unfold, as well as those that could feature a surprise upset, to those that are simply too close to call.
Read, enjoy, and debate… but most importantly, come out to support the athletes at the meet, or if you can’t attend, make sure to follow our on-site coverage all day for flash results updates.
Good luck to the athletes, their parents, and their coaches. See you on the track (or in the field)!
Alysha Cook, Harrisburg, leads the field with a US #5 time of 8.72 seconds. Swenson’s Anthonia Ballard is the closest competitor with a time of 8.80 seconds. Leah Nugent, a sophomore,Abington, is another tenth back at 8.90 seconds. In such a short race things can unfold quickly, therefore Jasmine Wanamaker, Girls High, and Shanae Bailey, Swenson, can pop great races and wind up in the top-3. The boys hurdles are wide open as the top-5 are packed into .09 seconds. Wallace Spencer, Malvern Prep, and Leon Bullock, Harrisburg, lead the field with a shared time of 8.20. Michael Brown, Lower Dauphin, and Manny Morris, Octorara, are fractions back, as is Council Rock North’s Stu Fram.
In the boys 60 meter dash, Alex Kenney, State College, leads the state with a US #8 time of 6.84. Kenney’s closest competitors are Romarr Mayne, Reading, and Chris Houston, Bishop McDevitt, both with times under 7 seconds. The rest of the field is wide open with 11 athletes within .08, which practically guarantees some fast prelims just to be able to lock up a spot in the final. In the girls 60, Rayiana Johnson, Chester, and Shanae Bailey, Swenson, will be battling at the front with times of 7.66 and 7.68. Chante Moore, West Catholic, and Brittany Ducally, Wissahickon, are the closest competitors with sup-7.80 times. Tymerah Burgess, Gratz, and Ayanna Fields, Notre Dame, are within striking distance of a top-3 placing.
This will be the premiere short race with sprint stars Shanae Bailey, Swenson, US #3, and Brady Gehret, Altoona, US #4, leading their respective races. Bailey’s US #3 time of 24.30 has put her well ahead of the competition in this race. Brittany Wallace, Penn Wood, will be Shanae’s main challenger, as well as Chester’s Rayiana Johnson. Also in the hunt for a top-3 finish are West Catholic runners Michelle Davis and Chante Moore. In the boys race, Gehret’s US #4 time of 21.74 also sits comfortable ahead of the competition. Nothing is certain though, with speedsters Alex Kenney, State College, and Aaron Nadolsky, Altoona, sitting fractions of a second back. Curtis Baylis, Conestoga, and Anthony Batch, Penncrest, are also close enough to break into the top-3.
Brittany Wallace, Penn Wood, is the star of this distance with a US #8 time of 56.64, which is a full second ahead of the competition. Her two closest competitors will be Arielle Fonrose, Prendie, and Ayanna Fields, Notre Dame, who will need great races to keep up with Wallace. Springside’s Taylor Ellis-Watson is also under 58 seconds and has a chance to place top-3. The boys’ 400 is packed up front with 5 runners sub-50 seconds. Chris Morrales, Abington, leads the way with his time of 49.39. Aaron Nadolsky, Altoona, and Hansel Akers, Hempfield, will be Morrales’ top competition for the win. J’Lani Pryce, Bensalem, and Evan Williams, Methacton, will also be in the hunt for a top-3 finish.
The star of the 800 meter run this season has been State College soph Chloe Schmidt, who leads the state with a US #8 time of 2:14.24. Elise Wilkerson, William Penn Charter, is the #2 seed and has a closing kick that could challenge Schmidt down the stretch. Lewisburg mid-distance talent Kalyn Fisher has an 800 state title outdoors and also possesses the closing speed to challenge for the win. Taylor Bumpas, Gwynedd Mercy, Marta Klebe, Conestoga, and Heather Selheimer, North Penn, could also challenge for a top-3 position. In the boys race Tom Mallon, Central Bucks South, and Michael Palmisano, Upper Dublin, are the favorites for the win and both have strong closing speed at the end of a race. Paul Reilly, Upper Dublin, and Adam Shrawder, West Middlesex, are the closest challengers and are good enough to put themselves in position for the win. Trevor Cordivari, Hill School, and J.C. Rizzo, Conestoga, could also challenge for a top-3 finish.
Natalie Bower, Greater Latrobe, will seek XC redemption on the indoor oval after having posted the fastest mile time in the state, a 5:07.25. On her heels will be Chloe Schmidt, State College, who has run a 5:09.27 this season. Madlyn Evans, Abington, and Kayleigh Perry, Eastern Lebanon, will be in the hunt for a top-3 finish. Sophia Ziemian, Lewisburg, fresh off an XC state championship, could challenge for the win with her tremendous strength. Kacie O’Neal, Conestoga, and Lindsay Graybill, Emmaus, are also close enough to challenge for a top-3 finish. For the boys, T.J. Hobart, Baldwin, had his Millrose hopes left unfulfilled, but will now look to use his fierce kick to lock up an indoor mile championship. Hobart leads the field with a time of 4:20.65. Footlocker finalist Ben Furcht, Lower Merion, is the closest challenger, but will need a fast early pace to take the sting out of Hobart’s kick. Brian Quintrell, North Penn, and Ivo Milic-Strkalj, Friends Central, will also be in the mix for a top-3 finish. Wade Endress, Altoona, and Tom Waterman, Germantown Friends, could also put themselves in the mix for a top place.
Jordan Jenkins, New Oxford, leads 3 under 10:30 with a time of 10:26.46, but will have a tough challenge for the title from Abby Hewitt, Greater Latrobe, and Christy Cohick, North Penn. Maria Seykora, Notre Dame, and Abby Michaelian, Cedar Cliff, are also capable of top-3 finishes. Katie Gorman, Plymouth Whitemarsh, and Anne Herman Pennsbury, could finish well with great performances. There are 7 sub-9 minutes 3k runners on the boys side, but the top-4 are within 1.5 seconds of each other. Robert Micikas, Crestwood, leads the pack with a time of 8:50.31. Neal Berman, Lower Merion, Patrick SeSabato, Friends Central, and Kevin Borillo Great Valley, are all close enough to make this a close race. Ben Furcht, Lower Merion, will have the mile run behind him, but could still challenge for the win if he bounces back strong. Rounding out the sub-9 competitors are Dustin Wilson, Chestnut Hill Academy, and Brad Hough, West Allegheny.
Carlton Lavong, Methacton, has dominated this event all season and holds the current US #4 mark of 24-02.75 in the event. He was hampered by a late season injury but is healthy enough to compete. In Lavong’s shadow are 6 competitors within 2.5 inches of each other. Tom Hopkins, Haverford School, Sean Gentry, North Penn, and Jason Johnson, O’Hara, are all above 22-11 and will challenge for top-3. Shawn David, William Penn Charter, Brady Gehret, Altoona, and Matt Green, Belle Vernon, can take advantage of any slip from up front with solid jumps. In the girls long jump Marissa McDonald, Central Dauphin, holds a narrow margin with a mark of 18-05.00. Brittney Howell, Cheltenham, is the second seed with a mark of 18-02.75. Courtney Kedra, Phoenixville, could challenge for a top spot with a great jump. Kelly Monteleone, Penn Hills, Natasha McLaren, Stroudsburg, and Lauren Tusar, Penncrest, could all challenge for a top-3 finish with solid performances.
Natasha McLaren, Stroudsburg, leads the event with a US #7 mark of 5-08.00. Her biggest challenge is only an inch away, a US #11 5-07.00 by Kristin Smith, Souderton. Calsie Boyd, Richland, and Taylor Morgan, Upper Dublin, could challenge for a top-3 position with solid performances. Kyriq Williams, Phoenixville, and Sean Gentry, North Penn, share a jump of 6-08.00, currently a US #8 mark. While they battle head-to-head, Phil Thomas, Chestnut Hill Academy, could put himself in position to win with a PR jump. Barry Bowman, William Penn Charter, and Tyree Bennett, Bradford, could also challenge for a top-3 position.
Tory Worthen, Council Rock South, has established herself as the favorite with a season full of great jumps including a US #4 mark of 12-06.50. Brooke Hamscher, Whitehall, is a close challenger with a US #8 mark of 12-02.50. Mandissa Marshall, Crestwood, could ride her 12-00.00 jump to a top-3 finish. Georgia Williams, Bermudian Springs, and Allison Vanek, Wilson, could benefit from a missed jump from the top-3. The top of the boy’s competition is crowded with 6 performances within 1 inch of bar height, and will be all about attempts. Brett Gilson, Council Rock South, leads the way with a jump of 14-01.00. The next 5 are 3 inches up on the field at 14-00.00 and include David Patzer, Hempfield, Ian Ferguson, Springfield, Mark Saylor, West Middlesex, Chris Dodds, Wilson, and Lanny Buck, Palmerton.
Carlton Lavong, Methacton, is atop the field in this jump specialty as well, with a US #7 mark of 48-00.25. Jason Johnson, O’Hara, and Omar Thomas, Coatesville, are the closest challengers, and will battle for a top-2 finish. Alfred McHanley, Cheltenham, could also challenge for a top-3 finish with a solid jump. Kelly Monteleone, Penn Hills, is the top seed with a US #13 mark of 38-07.75. Ali Gillen, Central Bucks East, and Natasha McLaren, Stroudsburg, could challenge for the win with great performances. Marissa McDonald, Central Dauphin, Keri Dantley, West Allegheny, and Taylor Crawford, Northern Bedford, are all close enough to challenge for a top-3 finish.
Ashley Adams, Freedom, holds a large lead over the field with a US #6 mark of 45-09.00. Dayna McCrewell, Cheltenham, would need a big day to win, but could end up with the silver medal. Tori Paterra, Elizabeth Forward, Nicole Mayr, McDowell, and Emily Woods, Hickory, are all close enough to challenge for a top-3 finish. Wesley Lavong, Methacton, has dominated the shot all year and leads the field with a US #9 mark of 59-10.00. Connellsville shot specialist Rodney Richter has dominated western PA all year and will be Lavong’s biggest challenger with a mark of 59-01.25. Both are coming on at season’s end. Steve Mitchell, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, should wrap up a top-3 finish with a solid throw. Doug Henninger, Whitehall, is the 4th seed but would need a big day for a top-3 finish.
4x200 Meter Relay
The girls relay will pit two national powerhouses against each other for the title with Swenson running a US #6 time of 1:41.94 and the event’s defending champs from Central Bucks East running a US #10 time of 1:42.73. With solid sticks, Swenson will be very difficult to beat. However, Central Bucks East will be on their heels the whole way. Abington, Penn Hills, and West Catholic are all well poised to make a run at a top-3 finish. In the boys race, Altoona is at the top with a US #10 time of 1:30.16. William Penn Charter is also sub-1:31 and will be a tough competitor for the Altoona squad. Coatesville and State College should also be in position for a top-3 finish.
4x400 Meter Relay
Both of these races feature US top-10 teams racing for title of best in the state. Abington leads the boys pack with a US #4 time of 3:20.20, and has run solid times all season. Altoona has the US #9 time of 3:22.34, but despite the time difference, they could challenge for the win with 400 meter specialist Aaron Nadolsky on anchor. Conestoga and Upper Dublin could slide into a top-2 spot with any misstep up front. Penn Wood and Abingon are clear favorites on the girls side. Penn Wood leads the way with a US #7 time of 3:54.57 and Abington is just over a second back with a US #10 time of 3:55.90. In their wake will be Paul Robeson, Penn Hills, and Notre Dame, all gunning for at least a top-3 finish.
4x800 Meter Relay
Abington is the only boys team with a sub-8 minute clocking with their US #6 time of 7:57.73. Cumberland Valley, North Penn, and Central Bucks South all have solid anchor legs, and this race should wind up with at least 3 teams breaking the 8 minute barrier. In the girls relay, North Penn, 9:32.25, Downingtown East, 9:34.42, and Conestoga, 9:36.83, are the only teams to go sub-9:40 this season. Given the quality of these programs a winning time in the low 9:20’s might be possible. O’Hara, Central Bucks West, and Neshaminy all have a shot at the top-3 with a great race.
Distance Medley Relay
In the boys DMR Upper Dublin seems untouchable with a US #5 time of 10:20.57, which sits 17 seconds ahead of the second seeded team. Saint Josephs and West Chester Henderson are the closest competitors and could mount a challenge with great individual legs. Baldwin is also a dark horse for a top finish if Hobart’s teammates can put him close enough to Palmisano over the first 3 legs. In the girls DMR Coatesville, Saint Basil, and Strath Haven are sub-12:40, with Coatesville leading the pack with their time of 12:33.49. Notre Dame and Pennridge are within 10 seconds of this time and could mount a challenge for a top-3 finish.