CALN >> This one had a different meaning for Hatboro-Horsham’s Nicholas Marino.
“I was trying to win for one of my best friends, Trevor Tu, who was diagnosed with cancer,” Marino said of his friend and standout pole vaulter at Neshaminy High. “The win was for him. He would have been here with us today. We just wanted to get to states for him.”
Friends and teammates at the Philly Jumps Club, Marino and Tu had been getting ready for all the big meets together the past year. Saturday felt a little different without Tu there, but Marino came through with an inspired performance.
“He’s doing pretty good right now,” the Hatter senior said of his teammate and colleague. “It’s looking good for him so far.”
Under gray skies with a bit of bluster, Marino captured his second straight district title.
”I was just trying to get first attempts and be clean, not stress and just make it to states, no problems,” said Marino, who cleared 15 feet to get the gold. “(Having a Philly Jumps Club teammate like William Tennent’s) Randy Showmaker (to compete with), it’s really helpful, having somebody that’s right by your side, helping you.
“Because we’re all looking for each other to get better in the long run. We’re all friends. We’re all just looking for bigger bars. Being able to put it together today and get over the bars, it’s very relieving. I didn’t jump what I wanted to but I’ll get it next week. Every single time I’ve gone (to Shipp), I’ve PR’d, so I don’t wanna jinx myself, but we have a goal. We have a goal to get to.”
St. Basil surge
With one final push, freshman Taylor Thomas anchored St. Basil home to a gold, and most importantly, the District One Class AA team title.
“My teammates were like ‘she’s coming, she’s coming.’ They were all cheering me on and I knew I just had to give it my all the last 200,” Thomas said.
The 10 points they scored pushed the Panthers past defending champion Dock for the title, by one point.
“That’s a nailbiter,” coach Lloyd Sharpe said, his voice a bit hoarse from the day’s activities.
“It’s really big, really important for the girls,” Sharpe said. “I’ve been putting them to work the last year and a half so it means a lot, for the girls, the school, the community, it means a lot.”
It was the 4×4 foursome of Sophie Mahoney, Ciani Kensey, Cianni Harris and Thomas that locked it up for Basil. Additional wins came from Mahoney (triple jump), Sophia Barnett (100 hurdles) and the 4×100 relay.
“The girls really came together to win this one,” Sharpe said. “At 6:30 this morning, we had a little meeting at the van. I said ‘it’s all up to you. We’re projected to win it, but anything can happen. So if everybody can finish one place ahead, we can win the meet.’”
And with one final push, they did just that.
“They’re like my Basil sisters,” Thomas said of her Panther teammates, “so it’s a really nice experience to go through with them.”
Panthers pounce on Class AAA
On the way to winning a fifth consecutive District One Class AAA team title, powerful Cheltenham got an impressive second- and third-place finish from speedy Alexis Crosby and Bria Barnes in the 400, the duo going 55.24 and 57.12.
There was Mary Grace Rittler, who earned silver in the 3,200, and there was the 4×400 relay, which also motored home to a second-place finish.
And then, there was senior Chanel Brissett.
“Each event I went into, I just tried to think of it as ‘oh this is your first race,’” Brissett said.
The Cheltenham standout earned gold in both the 100 hurdles (14.11) and 100 dash (11.74), and she also raced to victory in the 200 dash (24.29) and anchored the gold-medal 4×1.
Make it four golds for Brissett in what was her final meet at Coatesville.
“Mixed emotions,” she said. “I’m just glad that I got to end it so well. I tried my very best to go out with a bang and to do it for my team and that’s all that matters. I’m really glad that I got to do it this way.”
Her abilities in the 200 added yet another dimension for Cheltenham.
“The 200 really hasn’t been my strongest event since my sophomore year,” Brissett said. “The past two meets, it’s been so crazy the way things have worked out.”
And she and the Panthers still have Shipp.
“I hope it’s really hot,” said Brissett, bound for USC next year, “because that’ll help us run some really fast times. The crowd gives you so much more energy than you had before, and you can take from that.”
Memorable mile for Jawork
Abington’s Kelly Jawork knew the lay of the land at Coatesville.
“I usually have some sort of plan but today, since I knew my competition pretty well, I knew (Downingtown West’s) Emma Planck was gonna drop a good time, so I just wanted to stay a little bit ahead of her the whole time,” Jawork said of the Class AAA mile run. “And that’s kind of what I did.
“We came out in a good way. I was on the inside and she was on my right so any time she tried to make a move on me, I just moved up a little bit more. And that kept me going.”
Jawork never stopped, racing away to the gold medal in the mile with a winning time of 4:59.47.
“The last 400, anything I had left I just gave it,” Jawork said. “I knew I could come back in the 800 and be okay.”
Enjoying her finest performance ever at districts, the senior came away with a gold in the 16 and a silver in the eight.
“I’m really excited (for states). Last year was the first time I ran an individual event there so I was learning the ropes and everything,” she said. “But now I have a better idea of where I’m going, what I can do, so I’m really excited.
“And I know the competition a lot better. Most of us are even friends now so it’ll be cool to see them and race against them one last time.”