Warwick Duo Works Best Side By Side

There's something special about side-by-side competition for both spectators and athletes alike.

Lily Palacio-Lewis knows it.

Meghan Quinn does, too.

And thanks in part to their performances during the 2020 indoor season (and before), the senior sprinters from Warwick -- and those simply watching -- have been beneficiaries of that competitive magic on the biggest track and field stages in Pennsylvania.

"We were always like good friends," Palacio-Lewis said of her sprinting classmate. "We would always hang out. I saw something special in Meghan. We both were doing pretty well in middle school, but I think once we hit 9th grade, we started both hitting faster times. We were like, 'Oh, we actually might be able to do something special in these next four years.' "

The latest and greatest special moment -- thus far -- for the Warrior duo came in the form of a dominating run through the 60-meter field at last week's PTFCA Indoor Championships. Placed in different preliminary and semifinal races, both Palacio-Lewis and Quinn collected a pair of victories and a PR heading into the straightaway final.

When it came time to run for the champion's watch, the teammates were only inches apart, as they have been countless times in practice, in the center lanes of Penn State's Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

"It's always a cool thing because we run next to each other at practice," Quinn said of lining up next to her teammate. "I knew that she was gifted since 7th grade. I've loved running against her since then. We always push each other, and it's always good to be next to her in a race."

According to Bobby Rhoads, Warwick's indoor and outdoor head coach, the PTFCA final developed according to his sprinters' strengths: Palacio-Lewis quickly grabbing a lead because of her strong starts and Quinn using her strength to close the gap on the field and her teammate.

"They are definitely different runners," Rhoads said of the duo. "I think they both have really good strengths, and they have stuff that we're working on together to try to get them to where they want to be.

"With Lily, she is quick out of blocks. She gets those feet on the ground pretty quick and does a really nice job in those first 30 meters. (Meghan's) really a powerful athlete. She's strong, and she uses that strength to spend longer times on the ground to be able to build that speed into her top speed mechanics. Obviously I wish the best for both of them as they run, and it's interesting to see race to race where they're at."

Providing one of the highlights of the indoor state meet, Quinn played the closer, slipping past Marlina Voker of Mastery Charter-Hardy Williams and then Palacio-Lewis in the final strides for the win in 7.66 as the trio was separated by just two-hundredths of a second. The Warwick 1-2 was worth 18 points for Rhoads' Warriors en route to the runner-up team trophy in the girls' standings.

"It's something that they've always talked about, we've talked about before: How cool would it be to be 1-2," Rhoads said of the finish and confidence boost for the pair heading into the 2020 outdoor season. "With Fore (Abinusawa) out of the mix and Talitha (Diggs) focusing on the 200 and the 400, we knew it was a possibility.

"We talked about it, just briefly, as an opportunity that they could go seize. I think it was a special moment for them to be able to share. I'm sure they'll remember it for the rest of their life, going 1-2 in the state."

Not including practices or dual meets, a 1-2 or blanket finish involving the Warwick tandem has occurred numerous times, including a Palacio-Lewis-led 1-2 in this year's Kevin Dare Invitational 60. Also, in last spring's PIAA Class AAA 100 final, the seniors served as bookends to former teammate Leah Graybill in a 2-3-4 Warwick finish that was worth 19 of the state championship team's total of 44 points.

"They've done a tremendous job over the past four years being able to run against each other," Rhoads said. "Even at dual meets, it can be a little stressful when you are running a dual meet and every single time you're racing, you could have the next best person in the state running right next to you.

"They don't really ever get a break because they are on the same team, but they wish the best for each other. They're great friends and that's awesome to see as a coach and that's not easy when you are one of the best in the state and you have to compete every single day in and out of practice, in and out of dual meets."

So what's next for Palacio-Lewis, who will run for Towson University next year, and the Bucknell-bound Quinn? Training hard for the 2020 outdoor season and warding off any complacency from their memorable PTFCA 1-2.

"We are really pushing it during practice, trying hard to keep it up," Quinn said. "We don't want to be satisfied by it. We want to do bigger things outdoor. We both have really big goals for ourselves (other) than just as like a duo.

"We definitely have a target on our backs, but we're ready for it. I think there could be great things to come in the spring, and we'll just keep putting in the hard work."