UPPER DARBY >> For the eighth consecutive year, Strath Haven coach Bill Coren sent his athletes on a victory lap after the Panthers accepted the championship award at the conclusion of the Delaware County Girls Track and Field Championships. Coren admitted earlier in the week he had thoughts that he might not be able to do that when the meet came to a close at Upper Darby Saturday night.
Haven scored in 10 of the 13 championship events that were held Saturday to come up with 107.5 points. Penn Wood, which lost standout senior Terri Turner after the first final on the track — the 4 x 800-meter relay — took second place with 96 points. Upper Darby and Cardinal O’Hara finished a distant third with 64 points.
“We kept the streak alive at eight, but it wasn’t easy,” Coren said. “Once Terri Turner went down we thought we had a chance. If she could have competed in all of her events, they might have beaten us.”
As it turned out, sophomore Grace Forbes outdueled O’Hara junior Elizabeth Mancini to take the gold medal in the 1,600-meter run in 5:01.23, giving Strath Haven its only first-place finish on the second day of the meet. Rachel Kent was runner-up in the 100 hurdles and discus for the Panthers, Isabel Cardi took second place behind Garnet Valley’s Julia Hellman in the 3,200-meter run, and Haven’s 4 x 800 relay team of Olivia Malley, Grace Haase, Abby Loiselle and Cardi was second to the Penn Wood team of Maisha Coleman, Turner, Fatou Seck and Kyra Carroll.
That was the race in which Turner turned her ankle tripping over the curb on the infield after completing her run and had to hobble over to the trainer’s station, knowing that she would not run again in the meet.
“It’s highly disappointing, especially in my senior season,” Turner said. “I wanted to be out there helping my teammates. But everything happens for a reason. I just want to be healthy in two weeks when we go to districts.”
Haven’s Forbes was surprised by her success in the 1,600.
“I don’t usually like open races,” she said. “I’d rather run the 4 x 400 or 4 x 800. I’m not that good with pacing. I go out too fast, which isn’t good. When I got the lead today, I wanted to keep going and push it in.”
Cardi knew how much Coren had worried about the meet during the last week.
“He cares so much about this,” she said. “We just had to try as hard as we could, for ourselves and for him.”
Haase, another Haven senior, said the team goal was to forget about other teams and work hard.
“We knew it would be tough,” she said. “But whether we won or lost, we wanted to go out of here knowing we put forth our best effort.”
Panthers senior Maddie Forbes, who is headed to Rice, said the team title will stay with her for a while.
“Years from now when I’m looking back at high school I’ll think about how we never lost in the Delco meet,” she said.
Penn Wood’s championship-medal haul included victories for the second consecutive year in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles by Janae Pitt, who also was a member of the winning 4 x 400-meter relay team.
“I had a huge (personal-best) in the 100 hurdles,” Pitt, whose winning time was 14.71 seconds, said. “I just hadn’t been able to go under 15 (seconds). I got a good start and felt good in between the hurdles.”
Elicia Moore of the Pats took first in the 400, helped the 4 x 400 relay team to victory and was third in the 200-meter dash, which was won by Michelle Brown-Jones of Upper Darby. Brown-Jones also won the long jump for the second year in a row, helped the Royals’ 4 x 100 relay team take first place and was on the 4 x 400 relay unit that finished .03 seconds behind Penn Wood.
“I’m excited about trying to get to states at Shippensburg this year because that’s where I’ll be going to college next year,” Brown-Jones said. “I was just trying to do my best here tonight. It’s all about training and hard work.”
Senior Danielle Peyton of Springfield won the 100-meter dash and placed fourth in the 400.
“Last year I had problems with a quad injury,” Peyston said. “It’s been a rough four years. This is the only year I haven’t been injured.”
Cardinal O’Hara senior Olivia Arizin took the 800-meter run in 2:12.28. Teammate Christine Mancini was second, 2.6 seconds behind. The first five finishers in the race all were timed in under 2:16.
“I ran the 400 here against Terri Turner last year,” Arizin said. “I wasn’t worried so much about time today. I expected the race to be competitive, and I wanted to be able to practice my kick.”
Garnet Valley’s Hellman woke up feeling sick Saturday morning. She came back with a strong effort in the fourth 3,200-meter run of her varsity career.
“I knew (Strath Haven’s Cardi) would have a good kick and I would have to hang tough,” Hellman said. “When we were coming in, I knew she was behind me so I knew I’d just have to really go for it.”
Ridley senior Izzy Hamlin, who was third in the 2016 meet, took first place in the discus with a throw of 103 feet, 10 inches. She took the silver medal in the shot put Thursday afternoon.
“The most important thing was that I finally qualified for districts,” Hamlin said. “Last year I made districts in the first meet of the season.
“Today it was all about determination. I really wanted to make it.”
Top photo: Penn Wood’s Janae Pitt, here competing in the 100 hurdles Saturday, finished up with gold medals in both hurdles events and one as part of the Patriots’ 4 x 400-meter relay. (Photo by Anne Neborak – Digital First Media).