SHIPPENSBURG — Cardinal O’Hara’s Alex Patrick took a quick look at the medal she had just received for finishing eighth in the girls Class AAA long jump at the PIAA Track & Field Championships Friday afternoon at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium and smiled.
Winning her first individual medal at the state meet was the perfect way for the Villanova-bound senior to end her career.
“It’s such a great feeling,’ Patrick said.
A year ago, Patrick finished 29th in the same event, partly due to a pulled hamstring she suffered a week earlier at the District 12 Championships. She vowed 2015 would be different and it was. Patrick jumped 17 feet, 9 inches to earn a spot on the awards stand in an extremely competitive field, thanks in part to a stiff headwind that made jumping difficult. The difference between first and eighth place was six inches.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to set a goal and accomplish it,’ Patrick said. “It means all the work that I’ve put in over the last four years paid off.’
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A sore right foot and an off day kept Ridley’s Valerie McLaughlin out of medal contention in the Class AAA long jump, even though the senior went into the event as the No. 3 seed. She placed 17th with a jump of 17-3 ¾.
However, McLaughlin made up for it by earning a trip to the Class AAA 200-meter dash. The top eight make the final and earn a medal.
“It was so hard to get me on the board (in the high jump),’ McLaughlin. “I was either over it or in front of it. When I warmed up, I was good, but once I started jumping I was behind the board. I just couldn’t get my steps down right. If I had moved up a little bit, I would have been over it, but that’s the long jump. You just never know.’
McLaughlin bounced back in the 200. She was third in her heat and seventh overall in 25.38 seconds.
“I want to get top five to make up for the long jump,’ McLaughlin said.
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Going into the District 12 Championships Cardinal O’Hara’s Grace Mancini wasn’t sure if she wanted to run the 1,600 at the PIAA Championships for the 3,200 so Lions coach John McKay came up with a solution since running both is an awful tough double.
“He said, ‘˜If you break 5:05, I think you should go for the mile,’ Mancini said.
All that did was make her even more nervous, until she went out and won the 1,600 in a District 12 meet record time of 5:01.24.
“It made my choice so easy,’ Grace Mancini said.
It was a wise decision. Mancini ran the fourth fastest time in the trials (5:02.34) to easily qualify for Saturday’s final. Meanwhile, her decision to concentrate on the 1,600 opened the door for her younger sister, Eleanor, to compete at the state meet.
Eleanor Mancini was third in the 3,200 at the District 12 Championships. Only the top two automatically qualify. Anyone else has to meet the state qualifying standard, which Eleanor did not.
“It’s nice that my sister can be here,’ Grace Mancini said.
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Cardinal O’Hara’s Olivia Arizin and Penn Wood’s Agnes Mansaray finished 1-2 the first heat of the girls Class AAA 800-meter run and easily qualified for the final. Arizin had the fifth best time overall (2:15.23), while Mansaray was seventh (2:16.35). Both ran 2:13 last week at their respective district championships.
Penncrest had a busy day as the Lions qualified for both the 4 x 100- and 4 x 400-meter relays. In the only other girls final involving a Delco athlete, Emily McCann of Archbishop Carroll was 28th in the javelin with the third best throw of her career (103-3).