Can Chester’s Rayiana Johnson repeat the magic she created last year at this meet? The defending 60 and 200 meter indoor state champion is back to defend both of her titles. She has the top seed in the 200 (24.79) and she is the 3rd seed in the 60 meters (7.68). After Johnson’s performance at the DVGTCA Meet of Champions, she seems to be on pace to repeat her MVP performance from last year. All season long, there have been strong challengers who have been looking to create their own magic at Johnson’s expense. Her main competition in the 60 meters includes Cierra White of Engineering and Science, who owns a victory over Johnson at the PTFCA Indoor Track Carnival, top seed Tymerah Burgess of Simon Gratz who was the state leader for most of January, Ayanna Fields of Notre Dame, and Lydia Ali of Radnor.
In the 200, Johnson’s challengers to her crown include Michele Davis of West Catholic (5th in 2009), Davis' teammate Chante Moore (9th in 2009), Shanae Bailey of Swenson (2nd in 2009), Maura McKendrick of Notre Dame (3rd in 2009), Burgess, and Ali (7th in 2009). Davis and Ali have had victories over Johnson in the 200 during the February postseason.
In the 60 meter hurdles, Bailey leads the pack with her state leading time of 8.83 from the DVGTCA Meet of Champions and will look to improve on her 7th place finish from last year. Her challengers include recently emerging talent Emerald Walden of Plymouth Whitemarsh, Tamisha Thomas of Archbishop Ryan (6th in 2009), Lindsay Wolf of Boyertown, and Ryanne Baldwin of Sacred Heart.
In the 400, Chante Moore of West Catholic and Leah Nugent of Abington are the only two girls to break 57 this season. Michele Davis and Ayanna Fields (runner up in 2009) will be the closest challengers, with Hill School’s Callie Francis looking to break into the top three.
The race with the most potential to be a classic will be the 3000 meters. It will be the first time since the PIAA Cross Country State Championships in November that XC state champion Sara Sargent of Pennsbury and runner up Katie Kinkead of Central Bucks East (Right in photo by WingedFootPhoto at the NY Armory) will go head to head. Kinkead has the best mark in the state this year with her 10:00.23 in winning the Hispanic Games on January 10, while Sargent's run of 10:06.93 came at a DVGTCA meet on December 23. Both runners have the potential to break the current state record of 9:54.56 set by Carly Seymour two years ago. Elaina Balouris of Hampton, Nicole Hilton of South Fayette, and Emily Giannotti of Coudersport (9th in 2009) will look to break up the attempt at history.
Sargent will also be bringing her 4:57.87 from January 16th into the one mile run, looking to earn her first track gold medal. Standing in her way will be defending mile and 800 meter indoor champion Chloe Schmidt of State College, who looks to be at her similar form she entered the state meet in last year. Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center has been consistent for most of the season and will challenge for the mile title. Other challengers include Kelsey Seymour of Central Cambria, AA Cross Country State Champion Lindsay Kerr of Northwestern Lehigh, Kayleigh Perry of Eastern Lebanon (3rd in 2009) and Amber Valimont of Hempfield Area.
Challengers to Schmidt in the 800 include Kalyn Fisher of Lewistown, who finished 2nd to Schmidt in the 800 last year and at this year’s Susquehanna High School Invitational, Kacie O’Neil of Conestoga, her teammate Marta Klebe, and North Penn’s Heather Selheimer.
In the sprint relays, head to head contests between West Catholic and Penn Hills could decide who ends up leaving Penn State as the team champion. Each team has been dominant in their respective victories this winter, and each team owns one state leading time. Each team will have had most of their relay legs run open events early on in the day. So the winner may come down to which runners can handle running three or four events the best. In the 4x200, Notre Dame (6th place in 2009), Chester (5th in 2009), Swenson (2nd in 2009) and Central Bucks East (3rd in 2009) will look to use their fresher legs to snag a victory for their teams.
In the 4x400, Penn Hills has a bigger time gap over West Catholic, but with the team title possibly to be decided in that event, anything can happen. Swenson, Chester, and defending indoor 4x400 meter champions Abington will play a big factor in deciding not only who wins the event, but who wins the team title.
In the distance relays, three is the magic number for Conestoga, as they look to win their third consecutive 4x800 meter relay championship. Last season, they fought off a tough challenge from last year’s top seed North Penn to win the gold medal. This time around, Conestoga has run the fastest time this season by nine seconds. Central Bucks West has run the second fastest time in the state, and looked impressive while winning at the DVGTCA Meet of Champions on Sunday. Other challengers are Downingtown East (3rd in 2009), a young but experienced Notre Dame, Central Bucks South (8th in 2009), and Archbishop Wood (5th in 2009).
In the distance medley relay, Central Bucks East tops the field with their victorious performance from the PTFCA Indoor Carnival, and will look to improve on their 5th place finish last season. Pennridge was 6th in the event last year and won the DVGTCA Meet of Champions with a strong anchor performance from Victoria Gerlach. Saint Basil’s Academy was the runner up last season and were state leaders in this event for most of the season. North Penn and Strath Haven will be strong contenders in an event that doesn’t have a clear favorite.
The jumps have been on fire during the snowy February postseason stretch and that fire will continue to burn the infield on Saturday. On Sunday alone at the DVGTCA Meet of Champions, there were six long jump performances that made the top eleven in PA. AAA outdoor state champion and 4th place indoor finisher Courtney Kedra of Phoenixville led that jumping clinic with her T-US#8 mark of 19-00.50, her indoor lifetime best. Defending indoor champion Brittany Howell was a big winner last year and has jumped 18-03.50 this year. Iyisha Weaver of Paul Robeson was 2nd to Kedra on Sunday with a mark that would have won the state meet last year (18-07.50). Abby Frey of Lehighton has been the state leader for a big chunk of the season, and Diamond Hodge of Girls High will be looking to join in on the long jump outbreak.
Despite the big jumping clinic that has been happening all over PA, Natasha McLaren still tops the state in the triple jump with her 38-9.25 mark from January 16, and has the best mark by over a foot over the field. Ali Gillen of Central Bucks East (37-06.50), Alisa Fornwald of Girls High (37-04.00), and Iyisha Weaver of Paul Robeson (36-11.75) all had their seasonal best marks this past Sunday at DVGTCA Meet of Champions and will be looking to take that momentum and overtake McLaren. Jess Matsinger of Great Valley has been very consistent for most of the season and will look to get her best mark when it counts the most.
The girls high jump may be the toughest event to call at this year’s meet. McLaren, Kelly Anne Stuetz of Cheltenham, and Annie Holland of Pennridge have all jumped 5-6 this season, with four girls right behind them with jumps of 5-4, one of them being defending indoor state champion Taylor Morgan. With only three medalists returning from the 2009 championships, this event is anyone’s to win.
The shot put has been mostly about Western Pennsylvania this season, as the top four seeds all come from that side of the state. Emily Woods of Hickory (4th in 2009) and Emily Serafin of Hemfield Area (7) are the only two to break the 43 foot mark this winter. Megan Dornish of Elk County Catholic and Tori Paterra of Elizabeth Forward (runner up in 2009) are the other two over 40 feet. Anna McCloskey of Cardinal O’Hara and Chloe Smith of Archbishop Prendergast have been finishing 1-2 for the majority of the indoor season in Eastern PA and will look to challenge the western dominance of the event.
With only four medalists returning from the 2009 championships, the pole vault will feature some new faces. One of them will be Phoenixville’s Lauren Terstappen, who is one of two girls to clear 12-3 this season. The other girl to clear 12-3 was Allison Vanek of Wilson Area, who was the 3rd place finisher in 2009. Brooke Hamscher of Whitehall (12-0) and Virginia LaMacchia of Central Columbia (11-6) are the only other girls to clear 11-6 this winter.