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Cardinal O’Hara plays it safe, claims a Catholic League crown

MARPLE >> The decision to postpone the Catholic League Track & Field Championships from Saturday to Monday because of the weather created quite a dilemma for coaches.

With the District 12 Championship slated for Wednesday and Thursday, do you run the risk of burning out athletes and have them possibly fail to qualify for the PIAA Championships? Or do you go for broke to win the league title?

James Williams, in his first season as the girls coach at Cardinal O’Hara, chose the latter, with some reservations.

Bonner & Prendergast’s Jewel Ford, right, gets to the line ahead of Neumann-Goretti’s Eliza Brooks in the 100-meter dash at the Catholic League Track Championships Monday. Ford won the 100 in a school-record time of 12.24 seconds. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“I was concerned,” Williams said. “It’s a lot to ask of them because the turnaround time is so short. I had all kinds of spread sheets to see how best we could maximize our points, even then there is no guarantee that you’re going to win it because you don’t know what the other teams are going to do.”

True, league titles are hard to come by, except in O’Hara’s case. The Lions have been sure bet for a long time.

With Olivia Arizin anchoring two winning relays and claiming her third straight title in the 800, and the Mancini sisters — Liz, Eleanor and Christine — dominating the mile and 3,200, and Schola Eburuoh coming up big in the jumps, the Lions cruised to a 12th straight Catholic League title on their home track.

Arizin anchored the 4 x 800- and 4 x 400-meter relays to victory. Liz,Eleanor and Christine Mancini went 1-2-3 in the 1,600, and Eleanor and Liz switched spots and went 1-2 in the 3,200.

“It just kind of worked out that way,” Liz said. “El was feeling good in the 3,200.”
“She’s always better than me in the mile,” Eleanor added.

Christine Mancini was on the winning 4 x 4 and the 4 x 100 relay that finished second. That’s a lot of races with trips to Shippensburg on the line just a few days away.

“It’s a concern, but what are you going to do?” Liz Mancini said. “You just have to go out and do it.”

Eburuoh also had a monster day for the Lions. She won the long jump and triple jump and finished second in the high jump. It took a meet record-tying jump of 5-5 by Bishop McDevitt’s Blair Knuckle.

On the boys side, Ryan James won the mile with a personal best time of 4:21.66.

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Kevin Kee of Bonner & Prendergast was one of the coaches who scaled back, and his athletes still had a very good day.

Cardinal O’Hara’s James Ryan wins the mile at the Catholic League Track Championship at Cardinal O’Hara Monday. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

Jewel Ford ran a personal best time of 12.24 seconds and broke the school record to win the 100 meter championship for the second year in a row. It was the only event she competed in.

“My goal was to run and do my best, focus on the lane and my technique,” Ford said. “I wanted to PR and I did that so I’m happy.”

Normally, Ford would have competed in the 200 and the 4 x 400, too.

“We didn’t want to take the risk,” Ford said.

Junior Hannah Oropollo did not let a fierce crosswind keep her from winning the pole vault. The only time it bothered her was on her was during the run-up on her last attempt at 10 feet.

“It kind of freaked me out,” Oropollo said. “You never know when there was going to be a sudden gust of wind.”

By then, though, Oropollo had the gold secured with a personal best and school record vault of 9-6. That’s also the mark a vaulter must get in the district finals to move on to states. Before the rule change, winning a district title, which Oropollo did last year, was enough for a trip to Shippensburg, even though the opening height at the state meet was 10-0.

“I really wanted to get (9-6) today so I would feel more confident going into districts,” Oropollo said. “When I went to the state meet last year it was scary. Everyone was so much better. I feel better prepared.”

Alaina Johnson took second in the 100 hurdles. On the boys side, Ethan Cook won the 200 with a personal best 22.01. David Whitfield was second in the 800 and Anthony Harper claimed silver in the 3,200.

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Devone Franklin of Archbishop Carroll was third in the girls 100, sixth in the 200 and led off the 4 x 100 that was third. The Patriots (Maeve Buchanan, Mary deSimone, Tess Gibbons, Lauren Nigro) were second in the 4 x 800. On the boys side, Lamar Ramsey was third in the triple jump and fifth in the high jump.

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Neumann-Goretti’s Janese Lynch had a record-setting day, again. The Sharon Hill native and 2015 Daily Times Female Athlete of the Year, broke her league championship records in the shot put and the discus. Lynch, who is headed to Wake Forest, threw the shot 43-4 to break the mark of 40-4 from last year. also heaved the discus 132 feet to break the record of 122-7, also from last year. She was named the top performer of the meet in the field events.

Neumann-Goretti’s Sydni Townsend, a resident of Collingdale, and Makayla Perry shared the top honor on the track. Townsend won both hurdles and was on the winning 4 x 100. Perry won the 200 and 400 and was on the winning 4 x 100.

Kamil Jihad (Neumann-Goretti/Chester native) just missed Pat Nash’s meet record in winning the 800. Jihad’s time was 1:53.09. Nash ran 1:52.95 in 2000.

Miles Green of St. Joseph’s Prep set meet record in the 300 hurdles (38.08) and the 400 (47.46) to earn Track Performer of the Meet honors. Noah Walker of La Salle won the shot put, discus and javelin to win the Field Performer of the Meet award and lead the Explorers to the boys crown.

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