The Central Bucks West girls Class 3A 4x800 meter relay turned near disaster into state gold at the start of Saturday morning's finals. Lanky freshman Shannon Stirdivant found herself with two scraped knees and a gold medal after falling while trying to receive the baton from lead-off Liz Kearins. "Since my legs are kinda long I ended up tripping," said Stirdivant. "When I was on the track I was freaking out, telling myself I've got to get the baton." Stirdivant did quickly get the baton and regain her stride, allowing herself to make up enough distance for third runner Claire Smith to pound the track with Conestoga's Liz Costello. Costello would later win the 3A 1,600 meter run. "We knew we had to run low 9s to win and that we all had to run PRs," said Smith, a senior. "I knew I had to stay on her and try to kick it at the end." Smith handed off to anchor Anna Aagenes in great position to pull off the team's 9:04.05 to Conestoga's 9:07.23. "I could definitely feel Conestoga coming on me and I just sprinted," said Aagenes, a senior. "It was incredible bringing home gold in my last championship race."
Leadoff Liz Kearins left no doubt about their intentions. Come and get us.
The trip that turned to gold.
Frosh Shannon Stirdivant didn't panic, and was soon back in the race.
Claire Smith had to content with Liz Costello. That's pressure.
Anchor Anna Aagenes closed the deal for Central Bucks West.
9:07.23 and a state title.
Jamar Jones, a junior from Carver E&S, may have been seeded ninth going into the 2A boys 800-meter run, but No. 1 seed Adam Smith of Camp Hill knew he was going to be trouble. "Jamal seeded ninth was a complete underestimate," Smith, a senior, said. "He's nabbed me every time." On Saturday Jones proved Smith was right by nabbing him one more time. Jones hit the line in 1:52.33, Smith in 1:52.36. "With 20 to 30 meters to go he started to look fatigued and I started to push myself," Jones said. "When I looked at the line I knew I had it."
Jamar Jones catches a diving Adam Smith at the line.
Liz Costello, the 2005 3A girls cross country champion of Conestoga, ended her PIAA career in golden fashion by holding off Lancaster Mennonite's Lindsey Shertzer in the 1,600 meter run. Costello clocked in at 4:55.08 and with Shertzer on her heels in 4:55.56. "At this point it's mostly adrenaline," Costello said. "You put everything else aside in terms of fatigue and nerves. Coming down the homestretch I was almost upset when I crossed the line because I still thought of someone passing me."
Earlier Saturday morning Costello gave all Central Bucks West it could handle during leg three of the 4x800. CB West would go on to win with Conestoga second. "I was a little worried because my legs were extremely tight" after the relay, she said. "One of my coaches worked on my calves and in the mile everything came down to a sprint and my legs just worked. The girls ran so well, we can't be too upset."
4:55.08 and another state title capped the individual event career of Liz Costello.
For Boiling Springs sophomore Kara Millhouse, the 2A girls 3200 meter run champion, things are just getting started. Millhouse finished second in the 2A girls 3,200 as a frosh and was determined to win this year. A powerful kick over the last 500 meters was all the top seed needed to complete the task. "I wasn't really thinking, I was trying to stay up with the top girl," she said. I've done a lot of races where I've sat and kicked at the end. I heard them a little and I started to get a cramp and my ribs tightened up. I like being seeded first. It gives me confidence to win the race. I'm really happy with my performance." Millhouse will compete in the 2-mile run at the Nike Outdoor Nationals June 15-17.
Sophomore Kara Millhouse got 10 points and a state title for AA team runner-up Boiling Springs with her 3200m win.
Ellwood City senior Jake Walker had a completely different race in the 2A boys 3,200. Running untouched by his competition Walker tried to take a stab at the 2A state record of 9:04.09 held by Southmoreland's Chris Dugan. He came oh-so-close by running 9:04.31. Second place ran 9:23. "I was looking at the clock and leaned as far I could and fell at the end," Walker said. "I'm happy, it's windy and it's hard when you're doing the middle laps by yourself. I'm disappointed on one end but I ran a really good time. Laps four and five I knew would be the laps where it was going to make or break me. It's definitely a great way to go out."
Jake Walker wanted the PIAA AA record, but missed by less than a second, despite a dive for the line.
After getting knocked out of Friday's 100 high hurdle preliminaries Methacton sophomore Ryann Krais wasn't going to let anything stop her. So she made sure to check with her coach that if she set the state record in the 300 intermediate hurdles that wind wouldn't be a factor. It wasn't, of course, and she indeed set the record. Krais hurdled her way to a 41.46, eclipsing the old record of 42.11, set in 2002 by Merion Mercy's Tiffany Abney. "I thought I would think about" the 100 when she slipped at the start and slammed into the first hurdle, "but I was pretty much over it," Krais said. "Last year that (the 300 record) was my goal. This year it's what I've been working on all year. I had people come up and say 'it happens (the fall) and a lot of people believe in you.'" Krais also had a new look, her hair in ram head braids that caught some attention. "I'm trying to be more aerodynamic," she said. "My coach is always bugging me to get my hair cut."
Krais has close company from Brianna Broyle at hurdle #6 on her record run.
In Class 2A 400 meter dasy, Mike Cadau kept the family tradition alive. The Mahanoy Area senior's father captured the 1985 2A 400 meter title and was on hand to award his son the 2006 gold medal. "Like dad, like son," the younger Cadau said. "I'm so excited. I knew it was in reach with a lot of hard work. The second seed is in lane five and I peaked over and saw I was even with him so I knew I was leading. It's great to bring a gold medal back to the community."
Like father, like son. Mike Cadau wins the 400. (photo by Karen Ward)
In the Class 3A 400, Bensalem's Reggie Carter defended his title before later going on to also win defend in the 200. "It feels really good because of all the hard work," the senior said after the 400. "It's the best way to go out. I was trying to get the 46 time (he ran 47.35, the PIAA record is 46.27) and trying to run my own race. So I feel like I didn't succeed in a way, but I'll try to come back and work on it in college."
A double repeat for Reggie Carter, starting with the 400. (photo by Karen Ward)
In the 2A girls javelin, Westmont Hilltop junior Karlee McQuillen overcame some morning nerves to launch a new PIAA record. McQuillen threw the jav 162-04 to surpass the old record of 154-05 set in 2003 by Angela Hoover of Bald Eagle. McQuillen's mark was also only two feet shy of the national federation mark. "Today was just about going out and winning. I was shooting for the record and then on my first throw I nailed it," McQuillen said. "I think about records when I throw but if I can't do i, then I just have to try the next time. This morning I was so nervous when I tried to eat but after the first throw I settled down." McQuillen 162-04 improved her own PA all-time best she had set at 161-05 early this month at the West Central Coaches Invitational in Altoona.
Breaking her own state best Javelin record, and the PIAA AA record as well with a 162-04 throw. (photo by Megan Zeller)
Glen Mills senior Nathan Stewart almost didn't make it out of the preliminary round of the 3A boys shot put on Saturday. "I was doing pretty bad up until my second throw and then I threw 57 feet," he said. That was good enough to get Stewart to the finals where he launched a 60-05.25 to capture gold. In doing so he led a trio of Glen Mills guys to the podium. Teammates Robert Williams and Kim Touch were second and seventh, respectively. "We're real motivated for each other because normally one of us throws a big throw and then the others have to step up," Stewart said.
Nathan Stewart kept the Glen Mills throwing tradition alive, leading two teammates to the medals stand. (photo by Megan Zeller)
Three guys jumped 6-10 in the 3A boys high jump on Saturday, but JP MaCaskey senior Leander Toney did it first, earning him the gold medal. "This is my personal best," Toney said. He said he jumped his best of 6-7 at districts and then hit 6-8 before improving his PR for the win. "I started out kind of nervous because when I came here Thursday I couldn't get my steps down," he said. "After my first jump (on Saturday) my coach told me my steps were fine and to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm more surprised because of the tough competition."
Leander Toney PR'ed twice on the way to the AAA state High Jump title.
After no-heighting in last year's championship, there was nowhere for 2004 3A girls pole vault champ and current record holder Lindsay Regan to go but up. The Easton senior did by closing out her PIAA career by vaulting 12-6 for the win. "After I cleared the 11-6 bar (the height she chose to start at) I had a sigh of relief because I already did better than last year," Regan said. Once victory was secured Regan attempted 13-0 ¼ to try to break her record but that wasn't in the cards for her. Yet that didn't keep her from leading her other competitors in a traditional hand stand contest before they were awarded their medals. "Every year we have a nice gathering because it gets us all together," she said. "That's how we get to know everyone and to keep the other girls from feeling disassociated." Regan trains with Vertical Assault, a pole vault team from District 11 that also included runner-up Beki Finn of Liberty and several other of the medal winners.
It's nice to go out with another state championship. Holder of an all-time state best 13-06, Lindsay Regan nearly cleared 13-00.25 to break her own PIAA record.