WARMINSTER >> Griffin McMann, built like a college kid with the facial hair to boot, wanted to leave Pennridge as a conference champion.
“We’ve been working at it really hard because everybody really wanted this three-peat and I’m glad it happened,” the Rams’ 6-foot-4, 230-pound thrower said as a celebration began to break out for he and his teammates on the infield of the William Tennent High track Monday night. “We have a lot of great seniors.
“I know we lost a lot of good people from last year,” McMann said, “but a lot of guys stepped up this year — new PR’s, new school records all over the place.”
The arm (McMann) and legs (Austin Howell) of the Pennridge machine were certainly willing, with contributions from many more.
The Pennridge boys, overcoming an inspired effort by surging Souderton Area, again sat atop the Suburban One League Continental Conference, scoring 238.5 points for their third consecutive conference trophy.
The North Penn girls, meanwhile, racked up a whopping 316 points, making it the third straight year they got a celebratory lap around the track at meet’s end.
“It means a lot. We really wanted to take this one,” Howell said of he and the Rams. “It’s like a cherry on top — three years in a row.”
Howell was another Pennridge senior going out the right way. He won the 400 and also anchored the 4×400 relay home to victory while McMann did the honors in the field — his throw of 128 feet led an amazing one-two-three finish in the discus.
Riley LaRiviere (127-4) and Cailon Frank (126-3) earned silver and bronze and in addition, freshman Phil Long threw further than he ever had (116) for sixth, giving the Rams 27 points in that event alone.
“We have a lot of strong underclassmen right now,” McMann said, “and I only see them getting better in future years.”
The North Penn girls came away with a bus load of medals, including a memorable gold by Mikaela Vlasic, her kick in the 800 propelling her to a meet record of 2 minutes, 13.72 seconds.
“My legs weren’t sore at all. The entire season I had been struggling to get them going but today I felt really good,” the senior said. “So I’m really happy I got to go into (the 800) fresh.”
The Knights came into Monday having built up a big lead, getting wins in the field on Friday from Dela Matthew in the discus (109-10) and Kat Stevenson in the long jump (18-5).
And then they pulled further away on Day Two.
Ariana Gardizy crossed first in the 3,200 and also took second in the 1,600; the 4×100 relay won gold in 48.40; Anais Williams was the winner in both the 100 hurdles and 300’s; and Uche Nwogwugwu took top honors in the 400.
“Third year in a row is really, really cool,” Vlasic said of the title. “We’re in such a tough conference so being able to get a team title is a big deal, especially in this area.”
The Knights overcame a tough group of rivals, including Central Bucks West, which finished second with 136.7 points.
The postseason offers an opportunity to raise one one’s level of performance higher and higher.
For an example, see Souderton Area’s Shamar Jenkins.
“I’m happy to put on a show,” the Big Red senior said happily, shortly after his final jump of the afternoon. “Putting on a show is the best part.”
Jenkins triple jumped his way to a rare triple crown. The Souderton standout dominated the jumps, winning the triple on Monday to go along with his victories in the high and long on Friday.
Of winning all three, Jenkins said: “It makes me feel like a big champion. I feel really good just to know I can come out and perform in front of everybody, get the first place — I’m pretty comfortable where I’m at.”
Jenkins’ performance helped push Big Red to second in the team scoring, the Indians racking up 194.5 points. It took a tremendous effort by Pennridge to keep Souderton from winning the program its first conference title.
A year after winning the long jump and triple jump and getting the silver in the high jump, Jenkins came away from the conference championships with three golds, by virtue of his 6-foot-4 high jump, his leap of 22-3.75 in the long and his triple of 46-11.
This year, because of the heavy rain on Saturday, competitors had a two-day break in between Days One and Two.
“It just gave me a lot of time to get my mind right mentally,” Jenkins said, “to get myself ready for the triple.”
The Big Red senior said he’s looking forward even more to next week’s district meet followed by the biggest meet of them all in Shippensburg the week after.
Souderton also got tremendous performances out of Stephen Scott, the 110 and 300 hurdles champ, and distance ace Connor McMenamin, first in the 16 (4:29.19) and second in the 32.
Scott, defending his title in the 300’s, shouted in jubilation as he crossed the finish line.
“Running that curve is the best part for me, and I picked it up there,” he said of the final stretch. “I got the results (38.92) I wanted. I didn’t wanna lose.
“(Pennridge’s Alex Dimon) and I have definitely been pushing each other for the past four years. I enjoy going against him.”
McMenamin had a powerful kick in each of his races. It took a season-best run from CB South’s Matt Scarpill to keep McMenamin from winning both.
“Both races came down to the kick. Fortunately I was the victor in one of them and a victim in the other,” he said with a smile.
Meanwhile Joe Manetta swept the 100 and 200 for Central Bucks West and Kouri Peace did the same on the girls side for Pennridge.
Samantha Ronald of CB West was the pole vault champion, clearing 10-6, and Souderton Area’s Emily Bonaventure pulled out the win in the 1,600, going 5:13.90.
The North Penn boys went one and two in the javelin, with Kyle Hayashi and Tyreece Duke grabbing gold and silver.
op Photo: North Penn’s Anais Williams finishes strong during the 100 meter hurdles at the Suburban One League Continental Conference Championships on Monday, May 15, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)