Photos by Don Rich, Megan Clugh, Lizzie Poster
Gutsy Performance Sets the Tone for West Catholic
West Catholic came into the meet as the big favorite to win the team championship. However, no one likes to crown the champion before the meet starts. Someone was going to make them earn it. It happened to occur during West Catholic’s first event of the day, the 400 meters.
Abington’s Leah Nugent has a track record of performing well on the big stage time and time again in her young career. So who else would be a better fit to try and break up the 1-2 combination of Chante Moore and Michelle Davis? After Davis and Moore led Nugent through the 200 meter mark at 25.7, it looked like it would be too much for Nugent to handle. But with 100 meters to go, the Abington star surged to the lead through the turn and onto the final straightaway. But then West Catholic stunned everybody by making the final move in the last 20 meters to take first and second in the race with US#3 (55.14) and US#4 (55.17) times for Moore and Davis. A 1-2 finish at the state championship equals 18 team points, something many people before or during the meet thought wasn’t going to happen.
That gutsy 1-2 performance carried West Catholic for the rest of the day. That fantastic finish set the wheels into motion for the rest of the meet. In the 200 meters, Davis and Moore went from being seeded fifth and sixth to finishing 3rd (Moore 24.79 T-US#16) and 4th (Davis 24.82 T-US#19) respectively, which added eleven more points to their total. However, they still had to go head to head with Penn Hills in the 4x200 and 4x400, one of the more anticipated matchups of the weekend.
West Catholic had spoiled the hype in the 4x200 by taking a big lead during the second leg and expanding on it, winning the event in 1:40.01, which set the meet record, a US#2 performance, and was nearly THREE seconds better than the entire field.
With the team having the opportunity to control their own destiny in the 4x400, they returned to the track to take everyone’s best shot. A 55 second lead off leg once again spoiled the hype between themselves and field. Penn Hills was game, but on this day, West Catholic was totally on fire and nothing was going to stop them from bringing home the state championship. 3:52.03 was their final time, which is US#3, and that ended a stellar day for a team everyone thought was going to challenge them all the way to the very end.
Remember Chloe Schmidt?
Before the weekend, a lot of attention was put on some of the newcomers to this big stage. Not a lot of attention was given to the girl who already won two state titles last winter. Chloe Schmidt of State College took the short trip to Penn State and reminded everyone that she’s still a very good runner. It may not have been as perfect as last year’s meet, but she ran faster and impressed once again.
Chloe Schmidt entered the meet on about the same track that she was on last season when she won the mile and the 800. But the big story was on freshman Sara Sargent of Pennsbury and her quick rise to PA elite status. As anticipated by many, Sargent took the lead early and set an early fast pace. She took the field through the first quarter in 70.8 and the half mile mark in 2:27.1. With two laps to go, the clock read 3:44.6 and that’s when the fun began. Schmidt took over the lead, relying on her great half mile speed to pull away from Sargent and Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center. While Sargent dropped back, Piccirillo stayed with the pace. With 100 meters to go, Piccirillo took over the lead and won the race in 4:56.37. Schmidt settles for 2nd and an indoor personal best of 4:57.33. She may not have won the race, but that runner up spot may have set the tone for the rest of her day.
The 800 meters was the next race and Schmidt provided a new twist. In 2009, Schmidt won the race after being in last place at the 400 meter mark and took advantage of the fact that the leaders went through in 60.6. This time around, she controlled the race from the gun and eliminated all doubt as to whether she was going to defend her title or not. Her splits were 32.6, 64.2 at 400 meters, 1:38.3 at 600 meters on her way to a US#4 performance of 2:11.54. She reminded everyone that she’s an experienced runner who knows how to perform on a big stage. After she finished her individual events, it was time to step into the relays.
Her 4x800 meter relay teammates were doing their best to give Schmidt an opportunity to make an impact on the final leg. In the 14 team field, Schmidt received the baton in 11th. Once she got it, she made big moves around her competition and in a flash, she put her team in the medals. When it was all over, she split 2:13.0 and led her team to a fifth place finish in the relay, and a tie for fifth in the team standings overall.
She may not have won every race, but she showed how valuable she is to her team and she reminded everyone that she’s still very good. In the future, don’t forget about Chloe Schmidt.
Shanae Bailey slipped at the start of the 60 meter hurdle final, but managed to rebound and win the event over Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Emerald Walden 8.92-8.96. In the 60 meter dash, the top four places were separated by .05 seconds, with Tymerah Burgess winning the event in 7.66, with was .02 better than current state meet record holder Rayiana Johnson and Lydia Ali.
Conestoga completed the 3-peat in the 4x800 with Kacie O’Neil anchoring the team to victory for the second straight year with a time of 9:25.69, overtaking Villa Maria Academy, who had the lead entering the final leg. In the distance medley, St. Basil’s Academy’s Liz Barrett and Strath Haven’s Michaela Whitelaw ran with each other for about six laps before Barrett took over the lead and led her team to victory with a time of 12:26.41, a US#20 performance. In the 3000 meters, Katie Kindead of Central Bucks East had the lead after 1000 meters and maintained it until Sara Sargent made a big charge to overtake Kinkead in the final 30 meters to win the race in 10:01.67, a US#8 performance.
In the field events, Rachel Serafin of Hempfield Area had the lead from her very first throw and never looked back, winning the event with a US#3 mark of 47-03-75.
Brittany Howell of Cheltenham took the win in the long jump on her final attempt with her mark of 18-06.50, overtaking Courtney Kedra of Phoenixville, who fouled on her final attempt to win the event. As for the triple jump, freshman Diamond Hodge won her first state title in her first state meet with a mark of 38-03.75, with was .75 better than Paul Robeson senior Iyisha Weaver.
The high jump featured four girls clearing 5-4, with Methacton’s Amy Galvin being awarded the state title on misses. Lauren Terstappen of Phoenixville cleared 12 feet even to win the pole vault on misses over Whitehall’s Brooke Hamscher.
Final team standings had West Catholic winning with 49 points, Notre Dame in 2nd with 37 points, and Chester in 3rd with 24 points.