CALN >> In keeping with other sports in the league, they didn’t crown team champs at the Ches-Mont Track and Field Championships on Wednesday due to COVID-19 implications and restrictions.
But that certainly didn’t dampen the festivities as the 42nd edition of the meet took place at Coatesville a year after the entire season was cancelled.
“I’m just happy that all of the teams had a chance to compete after what happened last year,” said Coatesville boys’ head coach Damien Henry.
“I’m just glad to see the kids compete and see things getting back to normal,” echoed Downingtown West girls’ coach Tom DiSante. “I am still missing last season, to be honest. But we are moving forward.”
Henry’s boys and DiSante’s girls were the unofficial team winners, even though trophies were not presented. For the Coatesville boys, it was the 18th straight time the squad placed first. And this time around, the Red Raiders scored 151.5 points, more than doubling the runner-ups from Avon Grove (74 points).
“When we host this, and in a normal year, our kids love to win the trophy, and we are not going to shy away from that,” Henry said. “But this year we are just looking to improve our performances and improve as a team.
“I’m real proud of my team. We only have about seven seniors, so we are a young team. All around it was a good performance by the entire team and I am looking forward to continuing next week back here at districts.”
The race on the girls’ side was much more competitive as the Whippets scored 109 points to edge Avon Grove by five points and third-place West Chester Rustin by 10.
“Sure, it’s nice to see us at the top of the points,” DiSante admitted. “But I am just happy to have a chance to compete.”
The District 1 girls meet will return to Coatesville and will take place on May 21. The District 1 boys’ meet will be on May 22 at Coatesville.
In all, the Coatesville boys’ captured first place finishes in four events on Wednesday, and junior sprinter Lebron Bessick had a hand in three of them. He won the 100, the 200, and anchored the winning 4×100 relay.
“It was a great day,” Bessick said. “We talk about (the streak) all of the time. We just want to keep it going as long as we can. We do expect to win because we are all competitive people. And we’ve been winning this since before I was born, so it feels good.”
Bessick prevailed in the 100-meter dash by equaling his best time with a 10.78 to edge teammate Bryan Lacy by a mere 19-hundredths of a second. It was his first individual league crown, but there was more to come.
“I just ran my race,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about anything or anybody else, just reacting to the gun and running to the line.”
And then about an hour later Bessick and Lacey teamed up – along with Amir Haskett and Abdul Stewart – to win the 4×100 relay in a time of 42.21.
“We were not too cocky but we are confident,” Bessick said. “We wanted to get all of the handoffs clean and run fast. We’d like to break the (Ches-Mont) record of 40.99, which is held by Coatesville.”
Bessick then capped off the day by winning the 200 dash, and he won it rather easily, by nearly a full second in 21.68.
“That’s a PR but I think I can do better. If I would have had more competition, I would have run faster,” Bessick said.
“Lebron is good, but he still has a lot of things to learn,” Henry added. “He’s a hard worker and he’s hungry and wants to get better. He definitely has the raw talent, but more importantly he has a great work ethic.”
Coatesville’s other victory came in the 800, with Dave Kelly going 1:57.71. The runner-ups from Avon Grove boasted a pair of wins by Noah Lennon in the 300 hurdles (40.01), and Benny Clark, who notched one of the closest finishes of the day which came, ironically, in the longest race: the 3,200. Clark out-leaned Coatesville’s Joshua Miller by an impossibly close one-hundredths of a second. His winning time was 10:00.53.
Unionville had three individual winners: Justin White in the triple jump (43-31/2), Jack Miles in the pole vault (13-3) and Ethan McIntyre in the 1,600 (4:19.2). West Chester Rustin’s John Shallo was the winner in the shot put, and his best of 54-1 is closing in on the school record. And his teammate Jaden Mercy won the long jump (21-91/4).
Downingtown West’s Elijah Ford took first in the 400 (49.9) and was also a member of the winning 4×400 relay team along with Aiden Barnhill, Jacob Dixon and J.J. Conzelman (3:24.8). The rest of the victors were: West Chester Henderson’s Logan Krapf in the javelin (156-3), Bishop Shanahan’s Noel Doherty in the 110 hurdles (15.21), West Chester East’s Matthew Bergin in the high jump (6-0), and Kennett’s 4×800 relay team (8:11.85).
In girls’ action, Downingtown West racked up the most points despite winning just one individual event. The Whippets, however, did prevail in the 4×100 relay, with Lauren Diottavio, Maya Tucker, Ryleigh Hern and Jada Alston going 47.69.
“Their handoffs finally came together today,” DiSante pointed out. “When they don’t put the baton on the track and you know that they are going to get across, it feels incredible. That’s why we all coach – for those moments.”
West also got a huge day from senior Maureen Hammond who won the shot put (37-11), was second in the discus and fourth in the javelin.
“She was absolutely incredible in the throws,” DiSante said. “She was a huge part of our success today.”
There were a trio of two-time individual winners among the girls: West Chester Rustin’s Ava Alexander, Oxford’s Rose Rowe and Avon Grove’s Molly O’Connor. Alexander took firsts in the long jump (17-10) and triple jump (38-71/2) to grab her first two individual gold medals.
“I had personal records in both, so it was a good day,” she said. “I am really excited about it.”
Rowe reigned over the field in both the 100 (15.93) and 300 hurdles (47.26), and also set personal records in both. In the 300, she trailed Avon Grove’s Payton Smith most of the way but surged late and won it by less than a second.
“I worked very hard this season and I expected to do well, but I didn’t want to expect anything,” Rowe said. “I’ve run at Ches-Mont’s before and in the hurdles I’ve seen friends fall down in the finals.”
Similar to Bessick, O’Connor was the dominant sprinter on the girls’ side. Seeded third in the 100, she won it (12.4) thanks to a terrific start. And then in the 200, the senior nipped Downingtown West’s Maya Tucker at the line.
“I’ve been running against Maya for years,” said O’Connor, who hails from West Grove. “I placed second to her two years ago when we were sophomores, and of course we didn’t have a season last year.”
In the girls 1,600-meter run, West Chester Rustin sophomore Ellie Keefer shaved 16 seconds off her previous best to claim the crown. She nipped West Chester East’s Sonia Piombino by a half-second, and both qualified for districts.
“I was trying to stay behind Sonia for the first three laps and I caught her on the final straightaway,” Keefer said. “I was expecting to beat my PR but my time kind of surprised me.”
Her Henderson teammates Amanda Kelly and Lauren Franco also took firsts. Kelly won the 3,200 (11:40.55), and Franco took the 400, and her time of 59.56 was the best of her career.
“I knew if I wanted to break 60, I had to pick it up,” she said. “At about the 100 mark, (Kaylin Cousin) from Avon Grove caught me and that gave me a jolt to catch her, and I did that.”
Ava Pfaff grabbed a win in the high jump (5-0) and then came back to help Avon Grove take victory in the 4×400 relay along with sister Annika Pfaff, Adrian David and Maggie Keegan (10:16.26). The 4×800 relay title went to the Unionville team of Josie Cicchino, Nicky Diver, Lauren Dobie and Molly Main (9:51.17).
The rest of the individual winners were: Great Valley senior Siena Vestri in the discus (115-1), Unionville’s Meghan Hart in the pole vault (13-0) and Downingtown East’s Rachel Wertz in the javelin (108-11).
Boys Team standings: 1. Coatesville (151.5); 2. Avon Grove 74; 3. W.C. Henderson (69); 4. Downingtown East (64); 5. W.C. Rustin (61); 6. Downingtown West (58); 7. Unionville (54); 8. Kennett (40); 8. Oxford (40); 10. Great Valley (35.5); 11. Bishop Shanahan (29); 12. W.C. East (17); 13. Sun Valley (9).
Shot put – 1. John Shallo (WCR) 54-1; Triple jump – 1. Justin White (U) 43-3.5; Pole vault – Jack Miles (U) 13-03; Javelin – 1. Logan Kraft (WCH) 156-03; 4×800 – Kennett (Comanda, King, Lanier, Maxwell) 8:11.85; 100 hurdles – 1. Noel Doherty (BS) 15.21; 100 – 1. Lebron Bessick (C) 10.78; 4×100 – 1. Coatesville (Amir Haskett, Bryan Lacey, Abdul Stewart, Lebron Bessick) 42.21; 1600 – 1. Ethan McIntyre (U) 4:19.2; 400 – 1. Elijah Ford (DW) 49.9; 800 – Elijah Ford (DW) 49.9; 300 hurdles – 1. Noah Lennon (AG); High jump – 1. Matthew Bergin (WCE) 6-0; 200 – 1. Bessick (C) 21.68; 3200 – 1. Benny Clark (AG) 10:00.53; Long jump – 1. Jaden Mercy (WCR) 21-91/4; 4×400 – 1. 4×400 – Downingtown West (Aiden Barnhill, Jacob Dixon, Elijah Ford, J.J. Conzelman) 3:24.8.
Girls Team standings: 1. Downingtown West (109); 2. Avon Grove (104); 3. W.C. Rustin (99); 4. Downingtown East (70); 5. Unionville (54); 6. Great Valley (51); 7. W.C. Henderson (49); 8. Bishop Shanahan (44); 9. Coatesville (34); 10. Oxford (32); 11. W.C. East (27); 12. Kennett (23).
Discus – 1. Siena Vestri (GV) 115-1; Long jump – 1. Ava Alexander (WCR) 17-1; High jump – 1. Ava Pfaff (AG) 5-0; 4×800 – 1. Unionville (Cicchino, Diver, Dobie, Main) 9:51.17; 100 – 1. Rose Rowe (O) 15.93; 1600 – 1. Ellie Keefer (WCR) 5:06.45; 4×100 – 1. Downingtown West (Lauren Diottavio, Maya Tucker, Ryleigh Hern, Jada Alston) 47.69; 400 – 1, Lauren Franco (WCH) 59.56; Pole vault – 1. Meghan Hart (U) 13-0; Triple jump – 1. Ava Alexander (WCR) 38-71/2; 800 – 1. Sofia Piccone (WCR) 2:21.59; 300 hurdles – 1. Rose Rowe (O) 47.26; 200 – 1. Molly O’Connor (AG) 25.04; 3200 – 1. Amanda Kelly (WCH) 11:40.55; Javelin – 1. Rachel Wertz (DE) 108-11; Shot put – Maureen Hammond (DW) 37-11; 4×400 – 1. Avon Grove (Ava Pfaff, Adrian Davis, Maggie Keegan, Annika Pfaff) 10:16.26.
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