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Brown-Jones takes a studious view on qualifying for states

CALN >> Michelle Brown-Jones of Upper Darby committed to Shippensburg University, even though she never took an official visit to the school. The senior she could take care of that little matter by qualifying for the PIAA Track and Field Championships, which are held at Shippesnburg.
“My mom was worried,” Brown-Jones said. “She asked me how I could pick a school without seeing it. I told her I was going to see it.”
Brown-Jones knew something her mother did not. She will get a first-hand look at the campus after finishing second in the girls’ District 1 Class 3A long jump Friday with a personal-best outdoor leap of 18-3¼.
She got it on her first attempt.
“It was a great way to start the day,” Brown-Jones said. “Districts have been bad luck for me. The last two years I either fouled or didn’t have a good jump, so it was really important to get a good jump in early.”
Brown-Jones was one of six medal winners from Delaware County schools. Strath Haven’s Casey Blum, Penncrest’s Tara Higgins and Haverford’s Cecilia Katcavage were second, third and sixth, respectively, in the Class 3A javelin. Katcavage, Isabella “Izzy” Hamilin and Symphonie Blalock were second, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the shot put.
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Katcavage has been setting her sights higher and higher as the season has progressed. Her goal coming into the district championships was to top the 39-foot mark.
She did that with a career-best heave of 39-1 on her third attempt in the finals.
“I knew I hit it,” Katcavage said. “It felt real good when I let it go.”
Hamlin missed qualifying for states by a foot, but she was still happy with the 36-6 toss that earned her a seventh-place medal.
It was the same for Blalock, who took eighth with a personal best 35-5¾.
“Today wasn’t about placing,” Blalock said. “I just wanted to PR and I did.”
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Strath Haven throws coach Ron Porter has been trying to get Blum to complete her throws in the javelin.
Blum finally did what her coach has been telling her to do all season, and the result was a career-best throw of 128-1, which earned her a silver medal. She got that on her third throw. She also had throws of 125-2 and 121-4.
“He’s wanted me to push through with everything,” Blum said. “Sometimes I’ll stop my arm or do something that I shouldn’t do, but now I see what he’s been telling me to do all season. Everything clicked.”
Higgins fought through a sinus infection to take third in the javelin with a personal-best throw of 126-1. However, that event was so taxing that she later scratched from the 800.
“I was just happy to get out there for the javelin and be able to do it,” Higgins said. “I had a 103-degree fever on Mother’s Day and if I had to run 100 meters I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to go out there and do the best I could.”
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Santoro missed qualifying for the state meet in the high jump a year ago, so when she got over the 5-3 minimum requirement on her second attempt at the height, she flashed a huge smile. She did so with a bruised plant foot.
“I noticed it at Centrals,” Santoro said. “I don’t know what I did. I must have slammed it down too hard, but it’s just a bruise. It will go away.”
As happy as she was, Santoro could not wait around for the medals ceremony. She had to get home to get ready for the prom.
“We have pictures in two hours, it’s crazy, but I’m happy about going to states,” Santoro said.
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Penn Wood’s Terri Turner competed for the first time since spraining her right ankle at Delcos. She qualified for the finals in the open 800 and helped the Patriots qualify for the final in the 4 x 400.
She struggled a bit in the 800, but ran more smoothly in the 4 x 400.
“I just needed to get a race under my belt to get adjusted to it because I haven’t run,” Turner said. “I took a week off and I just did light practices this week not to aggravate the ankle. It hurt, but I pushed through it.”

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