LOWER MERION — The pressure was on Strath Haven. Although the Panthers went 11-0 during the dual meet season that was not enough to secure their 11th straight Central League track and field title.
The year, because of COVID-19, league officials decided that the champion would be determined at the league championship meet, which is usually a non-team scoring event. For the Panthers, then, there was still work to do.
Haverford did everything it could to end Strath Haven’s run, but in the end, depth was enough to carry the Panthers to the Central League team title at Lower Merion’s H.H. Arnold Field Wednesday afternoon.
“My girls came to compete today,” Strath Haven coach Bill Coren said.
The Panthers held off the Fords, 135.33-107.5, thanks to performances from Teghan Sydnor, Jazzy Harper, Alexa Brown and Olivia Dumont, among others.
Sydnor won the 100 hurdles and turned in a personal best time of 44.98 seconds to finish second in the 300 hurdles. She also ran on Strath Haven’s 4 x 400 relay team that placed seventh. Sydnor will concentrate on the hurdles in next week’s District 1 championships. .
“I hope to run in the 44s,” Sydnor said. “Hopefully, I’ll do it next week at districts.”
Harper won the triple jump, finished second in the long jump and took sixth in the 100 hurdles. The victory in the triple jump was especially gratifying.
“It’s my favorite event out of all the events I do,” Harper said. I think I’ve come a long way. I started the triple jump in my sophomore year and the best part for me is getting better with each meet.”
Brown was first in the shot put and Dumont captured the javelin.
The Panthers needed all of those points because Haverford pushed Strath Haven to the limit behind a group of up-and-coming standouts who continue to improve with each passing week.
Sophomore Morgan Elliott won the 400 and finished third in the 100. Fellow sophomore Aubrey Leneweaver took second in the high jump and third in the 100 hurdles. Junior Erin Olsavsky was second in the 200, sixth in the 100 and seventh in the high jump. But it was in the relay events where they really shined.
Elliott, Leneweaver and Olsavsky teamed up with freshman Alyssa Bloxton to break a 38-year-old school record to win the 4 x 100 with a time of 49.37 seconds and claim the Sandy Hoopes Trophy, which is presented by the Lower Merion coach of the same name. The old mark, which was set in 1983, was a hand-timed 49.4 seconds, which converts to 49.64 seconds fully automatic.
Elliott ran her leg of the relay just a short while after taking gold in the 400.
“It’s always like that with the 4 x 1 and the 400,” Elliott said. “Fortunately they set up the schedule where I could get enough rest.”
Elliott, Leneweaver and Olsavsky were not done. They teamed up with senior Camille Sealy to win the 4 x 400. Elliott ran a 57-second split and Olsavsky turned in a 59-second split and overcame a 20-meter deficit to win the gold and take home the Larry Simmons Trophy, which is named in honor of the former Penncrest girls coach who passed away in 2004.
“I usually pick it up about halfway through but I knew I really had to push,” Olsavsky said. “Even before the last 100 I wasn’t sure I would catch her but then I just gave it my all. I just put everything into it. It was the last race of the day and I just said, ‘Let me do this.’ To be honest, I surprised myself because I didn’t think I could catch her.”
Ridley junior Emma Winward had a solid day. She edged Sydnor for the 300 hurdles with a personal best time of 44.98 seconds and then helped the Green Raiders take second in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. She has developed a healthy rivalry with Sydnor in the 300, where both were ranked in the top 10 in the state coming into the event. Sydnor was seventh and Winward 10th.
“She’s a really strong runner,” Winward said of Sydnor. “We definitely motivate each other. Today the weather was great. There was no wind down the stretch and that really helped. And she was right next to me and that pushed me, too.”
Springfield junior Ava Hennessey won the long jump and took second in the triple jump. Penncrest junior Kelsie Robinson won the 800. Radnor freshman Sophia Hill captured the pole vault.
Lower Merion senior Sarah Hurst and Harriton freshman Milan Ramey were the only double individual winners on the day. Hurst captured the 1,600 and 3,200. Teammate Jourdyn Rumph won the discus. Ramey placed first in the 100 and 200. Conestoga’s Mary Pealer took first in the high jump and the Pioneers won the 4 x 800 relay.
The girls team at Delco Christian got off to a good start in the first day of the Bicentennial League championships. The Knights came away with two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
Ella Hines and Liza Lee finished first and third, respectively, in the 3,200-meter run. Hines, who finished eighth at the Delco Championships, crossed the finish line in 12 minutes, 29.19 seconds. Lee took the bronze in 12:56.97. Lee also anchored the 4 x 800 relay team to second in 10:54.44. Gabbi Watson, Bethany Jacox and Chloe Bryant also were part of that relay squad.
Sophomore Evezi Omuyeh unleashed a career-best throw of 101 feet, 9 inches to capture the discus. She was third at Delcos last week.
Sun Valley’s Antonio Rivera turned in his career-best effort in the long jump at the Ches-Mont League championships. The senior took second with a leap of 20-7¾.
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