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District 1 Championships Notebook: Big finish for Crosby, Cheltenham

CALN >> Alexis Crosby’s smile said it all.

“It feels amazing. This is my first time winning districts in my whole high school career,” the Cheltenham senior said just moments after leaving the top place on the medal stand for the 400-meter run. “So it’s pretty exciting. “I’ve always been second — very close, but this is my first time actually winning it. So I was very happy.”

Racing to her first individual district gold, Crosby’s determination was a driving force for Cheltenham as the Panthers captured an amazing sixth consecutive team title in Class 3A.

Crosby is headed to Syracuse next year, and she’s already working herself into college form.

“Been watching a lot of college championship races,” she said on Saturday at Coatesville High, “and I’ve seen that I break down in the last 60 meters of my race. And they keep preaching that you have to drop your shoulders, keep your arms close.

“My dad sent me a text this morning and he told me to drop my shoulders the last 100 meters of the race and just give it all I got and stay composed. And I think that’s what definitely made the difference.”

Natalie Kwortnik came on strong for North Penn, but Crosby pushed to the finish, with a winning time of 56.42.

“I had that going through my head the whole race. I was anticipating it,” Crosby said of dropping her shoulders. “I felt (Kwortnik) next to me, coming up, and I was like ‘oh no, this is the time that I have to do it (laugh),’ so that was the difference for me.”

Crosby cranked out her fastest time of the season. She also anchored the 4×4 to a gold medal as Cheltenham finished things off in resounding fashion.

“It pumps me up a lot. It just gives me an extra bit of confidence, that I know I can finish this race,” she said of the 400. “I know I can finish strong, give it everything I have. This is my last (states) so I plan to leave it all out on the track.”

Smith sets the bar high >> Brianna Smith, a sophomore, won the high jump on Friday for the Panthers, helping to get the weekend off to a good start.

“I had to do 300 hurdles during the high jump so I pretty much just wanted to (qualify), so I pretty much went over my expectations,” she said happily, after clearing 5-feet-7 for the victory. “I had an iffy season so this is really good to see myself progressing going into the State Championships.

“The weather has been pretty crazy so there’s been a lot of ups and downs. I just wasn’t jumping what I’m used to jumping but I’m getting back to that right now.”

Quite a Jump

Hatboro-Horsham pole vaulter Allison Riches went all the way from 14th a year ago to District 1-3A Champion as a junior.

“Last year was my first time pole vaulting so I didn’t do as well,” Riches said. “This year it’s different because I just worked hard throughout the summer and the winter, and I kept on listening to any tips I could get. I’m trying to get my school record, which is 12-1.”

Riches has been a rock for the Hatters.

“She’s just been real consistent all season,” said her coach, Ginger Lemon. “She has just gotten so much stronger, more consistent with her run, with her jump, and just making those high heights.”

On a rainy, windy day at Coatesville, Riches cleared 11 feet, 6 inches to get the gold.

“I knew today was gonna be windy and rainy so my coach just told me, ‘just qualify for states. And hopefully you’ll move on and you can (vault) higher than,’” she said.

Now she heads to Shipp as a district champ.

Keeping the Faith

Faith Christian junior Josh Forker grew up around hoops, and hurdles.

“When I was a little kid, and I would go to my dad’s basketball games and go to the bigger schools, and they had hurdles around and stuff, I would just jump over them and thought it was fun,” said Josh, son of Faith girls basketball coach, David Forker. “I just found a passion for running and jumping.”

Thanks to Saturday’s 6-foot-2 leap in the high jump, Josh is headed to states for the first time. Being on one of the smallest teams around didn’t prevent him from winning a district gold.

And he even maintained a sense of humor in terrible conditions.

“When we were driving down here, you couldn’t even see,” he said of the rain, wind and fog on Saturday morning. “I was afraid I wasn’t even gonna be able to see the bar when I was jumping. I was gonna practice closing my eyes and going over.”

Twice as Nice

Madison Langley-Walker won gold in the triple jump with a leap of 38-6.75 and then edged out Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Taylor O’Brien (42.96) in the 300 hurdles, winning in 42.93.

The Oklahoma-bound Langley-Walker feels her best is ahead.

“I had to get in a good jump before I get to states,” said the Upper Dublin standout, who also earned silvers in the long jump and 100 hurdles. “We’re still working on a few things with triple jump, like my second phase, and hopefully at states, everything goes well. Hopefully I pop out a 40-foot jump, at least.

“I’m looking to have PR’s next weekend and to finish off my senior year with a good note.”

Something’s Cookin’

Jonae Cook found some pretty nice redemption this weekend at districts.

“Last year I did really badly at this meet so it motivated me to do better,” said the Norristown senior, Champion of the 100 dash. “I just worked hard at practice and my coach kept telling me I can run 11.8. It was hard to believe at first, but once I did it, I was like ‘wow, I can really do this.’”

Now she gets to go back to states, after competing there last year with an injury.

“It’s big motivation to go there and get top three, like I did at indoor states,” Cook said.

Miller Time

Jenkintown’s Jack Miller pulled off one of toughest one-two punches, winning gold in the 2A 3,200 (10:02.02) and then coming back and winning gold in the 1,600 (4:31.23).

“The goal was to come out, run hard, and see what I can do, take the wins if I could,” the Drake senior said. “I’m glad I got that done today. I think my training was a lot more focused this year. I was a lot more confident after this cross country season. I was just ready to come and race hard.”

Miller will pick which event he wants to do at states next week.

Said the junior: “I’m excited to get back with some of the guys from cross country, some fast guys, and run hard.”

Proving Their Mettle

Sasha Lee of St. Basil Academy jumped 17-3 to win the 2A Long Jump on Friday, but she’s not done.

“My goal for states is to jump 19,” the freshman said.

The North Penn girls earned Runner-Up honors in Class 3A, with Kwortnik earning bronze in the triple jump on Saturday with a leap of 37-9.75 and also getting second in the 400 with a 56.98.

Also for the Knights, Ariana Gardizy finished third in the 3,200 with a 10:59.76 and Olivia Dyer also pushed ahead to states, placing sixth with a 11:08.26.

North Penn’s 4×1 foursome raced to bronze, with a time of 49.11.

The CB West girls nearly made it a Bucks sweep in the 4×8. The girls foursome raced to silver, in 9:20.73.

The Pennridge boys came awfully close to a team title defense in Class 3A, with Anderson Dimon helping to lead the way. Dimon raced to second in the 400 with a 48.65.

Meanwhile, Ashley Gordon of Pennridge raced to a silver in the 1,600, clocking a 5:07.28.

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