SHIPPENSBURG >> Owen Shields, Christian Crabtree, Luke Fehrman and Blake Ewaskey — the four members of Central Bucks West’s prolific 4×800-meter relay team — do just about everything together.
And that includes growing a mustache for this weekend’s PIAA Championships.
“Eh, it would take me two and a half or three weeks to grow one,” said Crabtree, as he and Fehrman stood with their state medals, both very much clean-shaven.
Shields and Ewaskey, however, were sporting scaled-down versions of the Magnum P.I. stache.
“I had to dye it,” Ewaskey said, smiling. “It’s too blonde — you wouldn’t be able to tell if I had one.”
“I had to dye it too,” Shields added.
Everything was well-coordinated, from facial hair to Ewaskey’s strong finishing kick, as the Bucks once again combined their abilities to pull away to another state title.
On a warm, sunny afternoon at Shippensburg University, West’s 4×8 captured its third consecutive state gold, a feat never accomplished outdoors.
“I couldn’t think of any other way to end my senior career in the 4×8,” said Fehrman, who was on all three West foursomes to come away from Shipp with the gold. “I’ve had lots of success over the years and I’ve been privileged enough on great relays that have had a lot of success.
“And I think coming into this year, knowing I would be a leadership figure, having a lot of experience under my belt kind of helped me run fast because I had a lot of confidence. It’s a testament to the program and to the coaching, and how hard we work. We put in a lot of work during the season to get to this point and it payed off. We’re all real happy with the result that we got. We couldn’t have ended it a better way.”
West, with a winning time of 7 minutes, 42.52 seconds, finished in front of a top five that included Radnor (7:43.48), Pennridge (7:46.0), La Salle (7:48.40) and Cedar Crest (7:48.67).
Shields got it started.
“There aren’t really many words to describe this feeling,” he said. “Hard work does pay off. I’m grateful to my coaches and the program.”
Shields and Crabtree kept the Bucks in the front pack and Fehrman pushed them into second. Ewaskey took the lead on the final turn and sped to the finish.
“I’ll put it this way,” Crabtree said. “These are my boys.”
It was the first year this foursome was together in the 4×8. They had been planning for this past weekend since indoor season, in more ways than one.
“I was scrolling through Instagram,” Ewaskey said, “and I came across this runner, Craig Engels, who ran at Ole Miss. I saw that he always did a mullet and a mustache, and I thought ‘why don’t we do that for the State Championship Meet?”
“We may not necessarily have the mullets but some of us pulled off the mustaches,” Fehrman said.
Kwortnik Goes Long
Shortly after helping the Knights’ 4×8 team to a bronze medal, and not long before her sprint on the seventh-place 4×1, North Penn’s Natalie Kwortnik was busy winning the gold medal in the 3A Long Jump.
“Just coming off the 4×8, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” the senior said. “My teammates encouraged me, just kept me going. It made me wanna go for it.”
Kwortnik, who led NP to the team runner-up spot in Class 3A, sailed 19 feet and a half inch on her third jump of the first flight, pushing past North Allegheny’s Casey Burton for the top spot on the medal stand. Another local, Cheltenham’s Brianna Smith, was eighth with an 18-5.5.
“I’ve just been trying to drive my knee up a little bit more and hold it out in the air a little bit more,” Kwortnik said of her winning leap. “That seemed to do it.”
The senior also ran on the Knights’ 4×4, producing her fourth state medal with NP’s fifth-place finish.
Another Gold for Bucks
Bookending the meet with gold medals for Central Bucks West, the Bucks raced to the title in the girls 4×4, a team of Darby Roth, Stephanie Hiltpold, Justine Maraska and Kate Edenson digging deep for a 3:49.54.
“The first leg is a great leg,” Roth said. “I love it so much. I just stayed in my lane and went as fast as I possibly could to get it to my teammate, Steph, so it was exciting.”
Hiltpold ensured the Bucks stayed a few strides ahead of Penn Wood and Strath Haven.
“For the second leg, I knew most of the teams had some pretty fast 400 girls so I knew I had to get out,” she said, “and run the second 200 even faster. Once I got around the first turn, I was pretty much in the front.
“But I knew the other girls were right behind me, so once I hit the second 200, I just gave it all I had.”
Maraska brought the Bucks closer to the gold.
“I knew that Steph would put us in front because she had the lead 200 meters in,” Maraska said. “So I was prepared to be in the front and keep my spot. I was pushed by some girls to go even faster but I stayed in front and gave it off to Kate.”
Edenson hammered it home.
“I was really thankful that I had all of these amazing girls running first so when I got the baton handed off to me, I was in first,” she said. So in my mind, I knew I just had to keep my place and finish off strong.”
Said Hiltpold of the gold: “It’s awesome. Seeing how well that our team has been doing — both on the boys side and the girls, we wanted to be able to come out on top here.”
Barnes Pushes to Silver
Cheltenham’s Bria Barnes called it the hardest race of her life. It was also her most rewarding.
“I P.R.’d. I wanted to run a 53 so bad,” the senior said of her 400. “(Saucon Valley’s Talitha Diggs) is such a great athlete. I’m so glad I got to run with her, to actually push me, because I hadn’t had much competition this season. It’s my last high school race and I’m very happy with it.”
It took a state-record run by Diggs to keep Barnes from claiming gold — Diggs broke a 33-year-old record with her winning time of 52.82.
Ostroski Soars for Wiss
In just his second year of track and field, Wissahickon’s Carmen Ostroski rose to the bronze medal position in the Class 3A Long Jump, leaping 22-5.5.
“It feels fantastic. It’s really nice to be able to do all of this,” the junior said. “I was really on the verge of districts last year and then I worked on it a little bit, worked with my coaches and grew a little bit.
“It’s really been nice to have an experience like this. It makes me want to be able to do more going into next season.”
Make Room on the Medal Stand
Jenkintown’s Jack Miller got an early start Saturday, pushing to second in the 2A 3,200 (9:28.06).
CB West’s girls 4×8 raced to second in 9:13.60, with North Penn in third (9:16.16) and Upper Dublin in sixth (9:22.98).
Pennridge’s boys 4×8 earned the bronze (7:46), with La Salle in fourth (7:48.40).
St. Basil’s Tia Taylor raced to the silver in the 2A 100 hurdles (15.45) and Cheltenham’s Brianna Smith was fifth in the 3A event in 14.65.
In the boys 100 hurdles, Norristown’s Ramir Wiggins (15.02) was third and North Penn’s Curtis Young was sixth (15.07).
Adding to West success, Luke Benson motored to the silver medal in the 100 dash, crossing in 10.90.
In the girls 1,600, Pennridge’s Ashley Gordon was fifth (4:59.07) and Gwynedd-Mercy’s Kelly Murray was seventh (5:03.01).
The Cheltenham boys 4×1 finished fourth, crossing in 42.31.
Also, Hatboro-Horsham’s Caleb Ryu was a bronze medalist in the 400, with a 48.38.
In the girls 300 hurdles, North Penn’s Anais Williams was sixth (44.74) and Cheltenham’s Brianna Smith was eighth (45.02).
St. Basil’s Alina LaForest was third in the 2A 800, with a 2:12.30.
CB West’s Ewaskey earned another medal, placing seventh in the 800 with a 1:55.86.
Norristown’s Teliyah James was fourth in the 200 with a 24.69.
In the final event of the day, the Pennridge boys 4×4 finished second (3:16.25), with CB West in third (3:16.50).
Out in the field, Cheltenham’s Brianna Smith grabbed the bronze in the high jump by clearing 5-7 and she was also eighth in the long jump with a leap of 18-5.5.
St. Basil’s Sasha Lee was fourth in the 2A girls triple jump with a leap of 37-5.5.
Team titles went to Neumann Goretti (2A Girls), Warwick (3A Girls), Hickory (2A Boys) and State College Area (3A Boys).
/ 5 hours ago
The Pioneer Athletic Conference Girls Soccer Final Four commences Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Owen...
/ 16 hours ago
The Pioneer Athletic Conference Boys Soccer Final Four commences Tuesday, 5 p.m. at Owen...
/ 18 hours ago
HORSHAM >> All Jake Freedman was really trying to do was keep possession for...
/ 18 hours ago
Carly Hynd recorded the 100th point of her career with an assist on Kate...
/ 19 hours ago
SPRINGFIELD >> Maddie Yoder knew the Springfield-Montco field hockey team had the endurance to...
/ 19 hours ago
Samma Zahran’s outstanding first foray into high school varsity tennis just got a little...
/ 19 hours ago
Delaware County will have two golfers in the PIAA championships next week at Heritage...
/ 19 hours ago
The stage is set for a winner-take-all battle for the Central League title between...