SHIPPENSBURG, PA -- We're off and running at the PIAA state track & field championships at Seth Grove Stadium on the rurally gorgeous campus of Shippensburg University. Follow along here for all your state meet updates and news as it happens from the team at PennTrackXC.
Neumann Goretti ran the fastest qualifier in AA girls, besting now-second seed Boiling Springs by 10 seconds.
Elizabethtown is tomorrow's top seed. They ran 9:25.42. A mere 11 seconds separates Etown from 12-seed Seneca Valley, who had a joyous embrace near the paddock upon learning of their finals fate for tomorrow.
Mount Carmel Area snags the top finals seed with 8:12.12. Only seven seconds from them to 12-seed Central Cambria. Of the 12 finalists, five hail from District 4.
Central Bucks South gets tomorrow's top seed, running a 7:54.24. Five seconds between the Titans of CB West and 12-seed Radnor. Should be a dog race in tomorrow's finals with six District 1 schools vying for state gold.
Hickory's Brian Phillips takes gold, earning the day's first championship. "Nothing can replicate the feeling," he said of representing his school and winning a state title.
Berks Catholic's Keeley Suzenski wins gold with a throw of 46-7. She's the 4-seed in tomorrow's discus. She said her focus on training this week made a difference in a season she described as otherwise rough. She won two golds -- discus and shot -- at last week's District 3 meet.
Evan Niedrowski of Wyomissing wins state gold, following Suzenski to become Berks County's second state champion. He threw 191-3.
State College's Lance Hamilton wins gold, realizing a dream he said he's harbored since 7th grade track. He's ravenously hungry for a 50-foot leap at New Balance Nationals.
Mallory Kauffman of Greenwood won her first state title with a 157-7 throw, nearly 3 feet off her District 3 record throw from last week. Kids who threw in the District 3 meet, also held at Shippensburg, are indicating their comfort in the circles as something that helps their nerves when competing at states.
Manheim Township's Sydney Horn wins state gold, clearing 13 feet. She said today's wind was a major factor when she attempted 13-3.25. Horn was given her medal by her older sister, Meckenzie Horn, who holds the PIAA record in the pole vault.
AAA girls 1600
Is on the the track now. Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks just finished 5:02.39, good for second in her preliminary heat. Marlee Starliper of Northern York is in the second heat. Starliper ran a pedestrian 5:09.62, first in her heat. Worthy of note is that Starliper is not running the 3200 tomorrow morning. Parks is not running the 800. Their focus on tomorrow's 1600 final should make for an epic showdown between the two national-caliber juniors.
Longtime PIAA voice and so much more, Bob Schellenberg, just stopped to chat with PennTrackXC's Don Rich. They shook hands. "Great crowd today," Schellenberg said, adding that he thinks this might be the biggest crowd for a state meet Friday. More on the legendary Schellenberg can be read from The Sentinel's Jake Adams.
Shady Side Academy's Melissa Riggins will be tomorrow's top seed. She was the lone sub-5 in today's prelims. She'll be joined by four other District 7 (WPIAL) runners.
Similar to AA girls, this group had one sub-5 performance, and it was Emily Carter of Bethel Park. Taryn Parks clocked 5:02.39, Starliper ran 5:09.62. As I'd previously stated, the Parks-Starliper matchup in tomorrow's 1600 finals is must-see PIAA track & field.
Taylor Newton of Elk County Catholic won gold this morning, jumping 5'7.
Jonah Powell of Grove City Area is tomorrow's top seed, having run 4:23.96.
Tyler Wirth of Wallenpaupack earned the top seed in tomorrow's finals with a faster-than-expected 4:16.30. The top 8 seeds all ran faster than 4:20.
Another relay, another Neumann Goretti team advancing to the finals. District 12's Paul Robeson earned the top seed and will run in lane 4 tomorrow.
Lane 4 will belong to Warwick in tomorrow's finals. The Warriors ran 47.85 to snag the top seed.
Hailey Zurich of Loyalsock Township won with a leap of 18-1.5.
AAA boys 4x100 preliminaries
CD East just announced PA #1 all-time with their 41.10 in at last week's District 3 meet. What will they do today?
Brookville Area takes the top seed for tomorrow's finals with a 42.54.
CD East won its heat in 41.57. Hempfield Area was disqualified from the heat. The Panthers will be joined by Coatesville (top seed), Cheltenham, Downingtown West, Altoona Area, J.P. McCaskey, Chambersburg and Greater Latrobe.
AAA girls triple jump
Finalists are jumping now.
Skylar Sherry of Johnsonburg wins after two years of taking home silver. She said she's been dreaming of this for the last two years.
Nickolas Hyde of Somerset put his shot for a PR of 65-6.25 to win state gold. He's seeded 3rd in the discus tomorrow.
Girard College's Margaret Conteh will be the top seed in tomorrow's final.
AA boys high jump
There are three kids jumping at 6-7 right now, I'm told. No one cleared 6-8. Kolt Byers of Bermudian Springs won with 6-7.
Brock Grundy wins his second straight discus title, getting another banner for his school, Hickory. And Grundy's gold is Hickory's second of the day. He joins Brian Phillips, who won the AA boys long jump earlier today. Grundy could yet add to his school's storied hardware collection. He's the top seed in tomorrow's AA shot put.
Christina Warren of Perkiomen Valley hit the sand 41-4.5 beyond her board, winning her third straight state triple jump title. It matched her PR. I also have to add, in second was Tesia Thomas of West York, my alma mater. Thomas hugged Warren on the podium before their medals were draped. Class act, there.
To revisit this, Kolt Byers, a junior from Bermudian Springs, won gold. He jumped 6-7, a height he said he hasn't touched in a while. He adds a state outdoor title to his indoor title. Interestingly, he wore new shoes today because he broke his high jump shoes doing the triple jump the last couple of meets. He spent this week breaking in his new high jump shoes, which appeared to work well at today at Ship.
Talitha Diggs of Saucon Valley will take her mark in lane 4 tomorrow. She easily bested the field with her 54.71.
Girard College's Donovan Sanders runs 49.93 to earn his spot in lane 4 for tomorrow's finals.
Update on the track
We're running behind schedule, as AA girls 800 is now on the track.
Lane 4 in tomorrow's final will belong to James Jaisingh of Cumberland Valley, who won his heat in 48.5. That final will feature athletes from three District 3 schools.
Trina Barcarola of Western Wayne earned the top spot in tomorrow's finals with a 44.72.
Jane Livingston of Conestoga Valley ran 42.3 and will be the top seed in tomorrow's final.
Payton Rohrbaugh snags the top seed in tomorrow's finals. He will face Adams County rival and 5th seed Derek Herr of LIttlestown. The two are familiar with one another. Herr bested Rohrbaugh by 0.05 last week at the District 3 meet and beat him in the YAIAA meet the week before that. Rohrbaugh beat Herr in their dual meet matchup and the Arctic Blast. Herr won the aforementioned races as well as the Adams County championship. Nothing like settling the score at the PIAA state championships.
Godwin Kabanda of Northeast will be in lane 4 for tomorrow's finals. Also in that heat is another chance for a State College gold medal with Zachary DeCarmine. The Little Lions have two so far today -- Luke Knipe in pole vault and Lance Hamilton in triple jump.
About that pole vault championship. It went to Luke Knipe, who cleared 16. He and 2nd place John Franco went for 16-6, which intrigued the Seth Grove Stadium crowd. PIAA officials had two things to mind as they reset the bar in between Franco and Knipe's attempts -- the wind and the fact that 16-6 would've tied a state meet record. This required more intricate measuring. Knipe said the extra elements didn't bother him. "I don't even look at the bar," he told me. On his school's team title quest, Knipe said, they're in the hunt and they really want it.
Melissa Riggins from Shady Side Academy ran 2:15.38 and she'll be the top seed in tomorrow's final, which will feature two girls -- Sanaiya Watts and Kami Joi Hickson -- from Neumann Goretti. That school's 800 runners are a special group, for sure, as they're the top seed in tomorrow morning's 4x800 relay. Will be interested to see how they come back in the afternoon.
Strath Haven's Grace Forbes ran 2:14.61 and got the top seed in tomorrow's finals. A mere 3 seconds separates her from the 12 seed.
Garrett Baublitz from Juniata finished 1:58.43, roughly 3 seconds ahead of the 12-seed. Three District 11 kids are in this final.
It was a 1:56.09 that Ephrata's Tyler Shue ran to earn the finals' top spot, nearly 2 seconds better than 12th. Shue gets another go against Carlisle's Jack Wisner, the 4 seed. Shue won District 3 last week, with Wisner in 3rd. Second place in that race was Manheim Township's Evan Dorenkamp, who stayed out of the 800 to focus on the 1600. He is in that final tomorrow.
It's a flurry of 200s before the 4x400s close things out at Shippensburg. I'll have semifinals momentarily and then 4x400 finalists.
Neumann Goretti's Mykala Perry gets lane 4 in a semifinal tomorrow, but her 25.12 was topped by Girard College's Thelma Davies, the other semifinal's top seed.
Each semifinal has a Warwick Warrior.
Each semifinal has an athlete from Motivation High School. A quarter of these 16 kids are from District 12.
Four of these 16 students are from District 3.
District 12's Neumann Goretti is in all three relay finals tomorrow. The Saints are the top seed in all relays except for the 4x100. They won all three relays last year as well as the team title. I'm looking into if there are any other schools in any class that have finalists in all three relays. We're still running 4x400s at Ship.
This final is Warwick against seven District 1 schools. They are Coatesville, Upper Darby, Strath Haven, Penn Wood, Central Bucks West, North Penn and Central Bucks East.
I just had to tell the 9th place team that they did not advance to the finals. I told them that I hated to be the one to have had to share this with them. They took it in stride but expressed noticeable levels of disdain. I shook each of their hands and told them to be proud of having made it here. The team was District 12's Promise Academy. As a former athlete who never made it past the District 3 track meet, I know what heartache inside Seth Grove Stadium feels like.
Five District 1 schools, two from District 3 in tomorrow's final.
In addition to Neumann Goretti in AA girls, North Penn has a team in every relay final for AAA girls. Central Columbia has a team in every relay final for AA boys. These are the only schools to have achieved this feat. A handful of schools with two relay finalists. Excited to see how the finalists run their relays tomorrow. It's always amazing to see kids in multiple events gut it out for three of their teammates.
That's all I have for right now. Heading home from Ship to return tomorrow morning with semifinals in the 100 dash, 100 hurdles and 110 hurdles.