Saturday was a day that the Bishop Shanahan boys’ track team will remember for a long, long time.
The Eagles soared to a Class AAA state team co-championship with North Allegheny at the PIAA Track & Field Championships at Shippensburg University, finishing first in the final event of the day, the 4×400 relay. Both squads finished with 32 points.
The anchor of the Eagles’ 4×400 was senior Rick Zink, who won the 400-meter run earlier in the day, defeating St. Joseph’s Prep star senior runner, Miles Green.
In the 4×400, Zink was trailing Green until, with about 15 meters to go, he passed the SJP senior and crossed the finish line first.
“When I crossed the finish line, I threw my arms up in the air, hollered, ‘Let’s go!’ and hugged my teammates,” said Zink. “It was the greatest moment in my life.”
Bishop Shanahan was clocked at 3:16.65, just ahead of St. Joseph’s Prep’s 3:16.77.
“It was high drama,” said Shanahan head coach Pete Uhlman. “There was a lot at stake for us – had we not won the race, we would have finished third [in the team standings]. And those four guys really hadn’t run the 4×400 together before States.”
The Eagles’ champion quartet was, in order, sophomore Jonah Hoey, Ursinus-bound senior Logan Yoquinto, University of Oregon-bound Josh Hoey and Zink.
Aidan Bracken also played a key part in the 4×400 championship, having run in Districts and in the preliminaries Friday.
Earlier in the day, Zink finished first at the Class AAA boys’ 400-meter run finals (47.92), finishing ahead of St. Joseph’s senior Miles Green (48.07), then turned around 20 minutes later and finished fifth in the Class AAA boys’ 200 meter run finals, with a time of 22.39.
“This is the culmination of four years of building our program,” said Uhlman. “Rick ran the race of his life in the 4×400, following his gutsy 400. Rick actually came to the program in his junior year as a soccer player, and was injured last year and didn’t complete the season. So much of his success and development I attribute to our long sprint coach Lou Corominas.”
Corominas convinced Uhlman that Zink had the potential to be a state-level 400 runner.
“Unfortunately, we had a cold, wet spring, and Rick didn’t have many chances to display his skills in the 400.” Uhlman said. “But what he did today confirms what we thought – that Rick is the best 400 runner in Pennsylvania.”
Zink said, “When I was running the 400 today, I tried to do what the coaches told me, to stay relaxed, and don’t tense up.”
Jonah Hoey also came through for the Eagles in a big way, finishing second in the Class AAA boys’ 1,600 meter race with a time of 4:17.70.
“Jonah ran an incredible race,” said Uhlman. “This was only the fourth time Jonah had run the 1,600, he was predominantly an 800 runner for us this season.”
Zink said, “This has been a great day for all of us.”
In other Chester County action at the PIAA Track & Field Championships Saturday:
The Raiders featured a couple of outstanding relay teams at Shippensburg, finishing first and second in the Class AAA finals. Overall, the Raiders finished seventh in team points in Class AAA girls.
The 4×400 relay team of Sammie Miller, Patrisha Rokins, Arianna Eberly and Porsha Miles won the Class AAA state title, posting a time of 3:46.91, ahead of second-place finisher Penn Wood (3:50.84). The quartet had advanced to the Class AAA girls 4×400 finals with a clocking of 3:51.70, the third-fastest time in the Friday preliminaries.
“I think we got the best of all four girls on the same day,” said Coatesville girls coach Keith Andrew. “Our coaching staff thought they could do 3:47 in the finals, and for them to break that [mark] is great. All four of them gave everything they had.”
The 4×100 quartet of juniors Jordyn Worthington, Porsha Miles, Sammie Miller and Arianna Eberly finished second in the Class AAA finals with a clocking of 46.97, behind Cheltenham (46.80). In the Friday qualifier, the Raider quartet posted a time of 46.83, the fastest time of the day, which set a new school record, was ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania for 2018 and rated fourth all-time.
“I’m very happy with their performance,” said Andrew. “For them to break 47 seconds in the final shows that the [46.83] they posted on Friday was no fluke. The fact that they’re all juniors means that they’ve they set standards [to shoot for] next year.”
Eberly also finished fifth in the Class AAA girls’ 300 meter hurdles final with a clocking of 44.56.
“She [Eberly] had an outstanding day,” noted Andrew.
Senior Brooke Hutton finished 11th in the Class AAA girls’ 3,200 meter run with a time of 11:17.60, and Worthington finished 18th in the Class AAA girls long jump final (16-7.25).
Senior Jared Elters finished fifth in the Class AAA boys’ 110 meter hurdles with a clocking of 14.57.
“I was glad to see Jared cap his [high school] career with a state medal,” said Coatesville boys’ track coach Damien Henry of the University of Pennsylvania-bound Elters. “He’s worked very hard, and been a leader for us the last two years, and it’s great to see his hard work paying off.”
Sophomore Ricky Ortega, who serves as the Raiders’ star football quarterback in the fall, finished seventh in the Class AAA boys’ javelin throw with a toss of 180-11.
“It’s great to see Ricky win a state medal in a very strong event,” said Henry. “He’s grown a lot, improved a lot in the past year. He’s got a bright future and I look for more to come from him.
Junior Patrick Ahmed finished 27th in the Class AAA boys’ long jump finals with a leap of 20-7.5. Eric Kirk ran 11.11 in the 100 meter dash semifinals but did not advance to the finals.
Just six days earlier, the Coatesville boys won their first District 1 title since 1977. It was their sixth district title, and it came after the Raiders had finished runner-up at Districts in three of the last five years.
“Words can’t explain what it meant to us,” said Henry. “It was definitely the highlight of our season. It’s a tribute to our smart, talented, hard-working student-athletes, to our coaching staff and to the Coatesville community.”
West Chester Henderson
Senior Spencer Smucker finished fourth in the Class AAA boys’ 3,200 meter run with a time of 9:20.77. Winner was Neshaminy senior Rusty Kujdych with a time of 9:04.98
“I think I performed fairly well today – the key to my performance today was to try to keep contact with the leaders,” said Smucker. “Even though I lost them, the gap we had made was big enough to ensure I would finish towards the top. My most vivid memory of the race was when I came down the home stretch – I was in a lot of pain but I could hear the crowd roaring and knew I just had to push through the end.”
Next fall, Smucker will be attending and running for High Point (N.C.) University. His final high school race will be at the Distance Festival at West Chester Henderson High School June 1.
Junior Amy Willig finished sixth in the Class AAA girls’ 800 meter run with a school record time of 2:13.49.
“Amy ran a well-executed race and really went after it,” said Great Valley coach Nicole Jones. “She wanted to leave Shippensburg with a medal today. Amy had a tough end to her sophomore track season last year, and I wanted her to have more fun and flexibility in racing this year, so she has raced anywhere from 200 meters to the 1,600 meter, including the 300 intermediate hurdles, this season.
“Amy is a natural athlete, and things have really been clicking for her this spring. I think she has become more confident and self-aware in big races. As soon as the gun goes off, she’s putting herself in the best position possible to control her own fate in each race.”
Downingtown East (boys)
The Cougars 4×100 relay quartet of Quran Brown, Zack DeLone, Dan Andris and Carmi Stocker finished second in the Class AAA finals with a time of 41.89, behind first-place finisher Harry S. Truman (41.57). On Friday, the Cougars posted the second-fastest time in that day’s preliminaries among the 28 quartets entered in the Class AAA boys 4×100, clocking a school record 41.61.
“One of the reason we ran well this weekend was our handoffs,” said Downingtown East coach Eric Horsey. “After a bad handoff at the Districts last week, we went back to the drawing board to get our handoff right. We ran every day last week with weight vests and pull sleds through the handoff zone. Plus we had a great bunch of runners.”
Other local highlights were as follows:
West Chester Rustin – A trio of Golden Knights finished in the top 20 in the Class AAA girls’ discus throw – senior Alessia Mattera (12th place, 115-8), junior Zhayri Washington (14th, 113-4) and junior Ashley Muliawan (104-7).
Bishop Shanahan (girls) – Senior Renee Shultz finished seventh in the Class AAA girls javelin finals, with a toss of 127-11.
West Chester Henderson – Sophomore Karis Demi finished 17th in the Class AAA girls long jump final (16-7.75).
Downingtown West – Whippet senior Evan Kaiser finished 10th in the Class AAA boys’ 1,600 meter race with a clocking of 4:33.68.
West Chester East – Sophomore Allyson Clarke finished 18th in the Class AAA girls’ 3,200 meter run with a time of 11:35.25.
Unionville – Sophomore Cole Walker finished eighth in the Class AAA boys’ 3,200 meter run with a time of 9:34.21.
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