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Spring-Ford boys, Methacton girls prevail in tight PAC track and field battles

Methacton's Summer Mellow, center, leads Kaleigh Hudson, right, and Elizabeth Nguyen en route to winning the girls' 100 meters Thursday. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

There are many things that make a track and field meet unique. For starters, the variety of disciplines, the diverse skillsets required.

Then there’s the scoreboard. Or rather the lack of one.

It makes for unsettled situations like the one that played out Thursday when Spring-Ford visited Methacton in a matchup of unbeaten Pioneer Athletic Conference favorites.

Exact margin aside, as late field events completed and results were entered, one thing was clear: the meet-ending 4×400 relays were important. Decisive even.

The four-lap finales settled the score Thursday as the Methacton girls took first to get the best of Spring-Ford, 79-71, minutes before the Spring-Ford boys stayed on course for a second straight perfect PAC season with a 77-73 verdict over Methacton.

The Methacton girls improved to 3-0 while the Spring-Ford girls dropped to 3-1. 

The Spring-Ford boys, at 4-0, are a win away from going unbeaten in the PAC Liberty Division; Methacton fell to 2-1.

Thursday’s dual served as an appetizer for the team title battle that will be waged at the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championships, set for May 13-14 at Norristown.

Spring-Ford’s Alex Teufel, right, shouts as he hands off to Leonell Aguilar during the 4×400 relay Thursday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Methacton’s Kenslee O’Donnell, right, is congratulated by coach Rob Ronzano after anchoring the winning 4×400 relay team against Spring-Ford Thursday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Boys

Spring-Ford’s Cole Turner leaps toward the pit during the long jump Thursday at Methacton. Turner won the event with a 20-0. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Shining seniors >> Senior Alex Teufel capped his meet-best points haul for the Ram boys by leading off the 4×400 relay before Leonell Aguilar, Justin Russell and Travell Wellons finished the job in 3:31.42. The Clemson commit in the pole vault won his specialty (11-0) and the discus (101-5) and took second in the shot put behind teammate Zach Zollers. 

Russell and Wellons had individual wins, too. Russell, a senior, won the 300 hurdles (42.65) while junior Wellons went first in the 400 meters (53.19).

Senior Cole Turner was tops in the long jump (20-0) and triple jump (41-0½). 

The football standout – he was Mercury All-Area Defensive Player of the Year in the fall – signed with Bloomsburg earlier this week. He’s hoping to put a proper bow on his high school sports career while extending his top jump marks.

“My goal has always been the same: to try to be the best I can be, be a champ,” Turner said. “My mentality has been a bit different (this year). I’m coming to the board angry but focused at the same time. I can control that anger, my emotions and that’s why I think I’m doing well right now. But I can do way better than what I’m doing.”

Spring-Ford coach Danielle Stauffer lauded Turner’s leadership for a team that is now the favorite in the PAC after improving to 3-0.

“When I was freshman and sophomore, I knew that the seniors really cared about us. They wanted us to get better,” Turner said. “I want everybody to be better, I want everyone to be the champ. I want them to be better than me. I hope to push them to a higher level because I know they can do even better.”

Methacton’s Zach Willen, center, leads Spring-Ford’s Travell Wellons, right, and Leonell Aguilar on the way to winning the boys’ 100 meters Thursday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Willen’s way >> Spring-Ford’s win couldn’t overshadow the big day of Methacton junior Zach Willen, who starred in the sprints. Willen dropped a 21.87, a Pa. top 10 time, in the 200 meters after going 11.01 in the 100 meters (Pa. top 25).

“I was not expecting to do that,” Willen said of his 200 time. “I was thinking a nice 22.10, something like that. I only did two events; my last meet I had three events before the 200 and I ran the same time I’d been running. But 21.87 I was not expecting at all, especially with this wind and the rain. It was out of the blue.”

Willen placed seventh in the 200 at the Pa. indoor championships in the winter and went to the New Balance Indoor Nationals. That success informs his goals this spring.

“I already went to indoor nationals and I think I can do that again in outdoor. I’m right there,” Willen said. “New Balance (qualifying time is around) 21.74. I can do that. It’d be great to go again.”

The New Balance Outdoor Nationals will be held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field on June 16-19.

Methacton’s Coco Dunham competes in the long jump during Thursday’s PAC dual against Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Girls

Soph spot >> Sophomore Kenslee O’Donnell was the bookender for the Warrior girls by winning the meet-opening 300 hurdles (Pa. top 25-time 47.50) before anchoring the 4×400 relay while teaming with sophomore Kate Thomas, junior Bella Cappola and senior Shannon O’Brien.

Senior Coco Dunham has been a mainstay of the Methacton girls team in recent years and is their lone returning PIAA qualifier (17th in the triple jump in 2021).

Dunham won the triple jump Thursday with a 35-3, but was quick to pass the credit for Thursday’s win.

“We have a lot of young talent,” she said. “A lot of the sophomores, the juniors, they do their best and I see it everyday. Their talent is amazing and it’s crazy to see how they improve everyday. 

“They carry most of our team right now – the sophomores are really it right now.”

Dunham, who also finished second in the discus behind teammate Kirsten O’Brien (90-9), is pushing for a return to the PIAA Championships but has some challenges to work through.

“I haven’t been feeling my best and I’m going through a little mental block, but I’m trying to push past it and keep moving,” she said. “I’m really trying to make it back to states and do better this year. 

“Last year was rough. I wasn’t mentally prepared for where I was at and I feel like now that I’m older I am ready to be in a competition where there are higher stakes.”

Methacton’s other event-winning sophomores were Kate Thomas (800 meters, 2:31.40) and Summer Mellow (100 meters, Pa. top 25-time 12.47)

Duel of the day >> Arguably the hottest competition of the day was between Methacton’s Mellow and Spring-Ford senior Kaleigh Hudson.

Mellow put down the first marker in the 100 meters, her 12.47 besting Hudson’s 12.59. Hudson got the best of their other battles, prevailing in the 4×100 relay and the 200 meters in a 25.86, ahead of Mellow’s 26.01. All four times were Pa. top 25 times.

Hudson has been a sprints standout since she was a freshman. She is a returning PIAA qualifier in the 200 and is headed to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington next year to compete in track and field.

Spring-Ford’s Kaleigh Hudson smiles after anchoring the Rams’ winning 4×100 relay Thursday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Her goal this spring is to expand her event list at the state championships this spring.

“I’m really hoping I make states again this year,” Hudson said. Last year I made it in the 200 and I’m hoping I can make it in the 100 this year. Our district is the hardest district but I’m hoping I can do it. That’s my goal this season.”

On the double >> Spring-Ford’s Nene Mokonchu and Julia Breisch were two-event winners.

Mokonchu ran a 58.45 in the 400 meters – a top 10 time in Pa. – and eased to the high jump win clearing 5-4. She’s the top high jumper in the state with a 5-9 personal best achieved at the Perkiomen Valley invitational two weeks ago.

Breisch placed first in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Boys

Spring-Ford 77, Methacton 73

300IH – Justin Russell (SF) 42.65
4×800 relay – Methacton (Lackman, Yeh, Rosti, Landsberg) 8:40.83
100 – Zach Willen (M) 11.01
1,600 – Chris McGlynn (M) 4:33.82
4×100 – Methacton (Li, Hill, Kinard, Willen) 43.58
400 – Travell Wellons (SF) 53.19
110HH – Arayman Punshi (M) 16.91
800 – Vaughn Lackman (M) 2:00.09
200 – Zach Willen (M) 21.87 .. top 10
3,200 – Bryan Landsberg (M) 10:02.54
4×400 – Spring-Ford (Teufel, Aguilar, Russell, Wellons) 3:31.42
High jump – Abe McNelly (SF) 5-10
Pole vault – Alex Teufel (SF) 11-0
Long jump – Cole Turner (SF) 20-0
Triple jump – Cole Turner (SF) 41-0 ½
Discus – Alex Teufel (SF) 101-5
Javelin – Matthew Pytel (SF) 159-4
Shot put – Zach Zollers (SF) 36-11

Girls

Methacton 79, Spring-Ford 71

300IH – Kenslee O’Donnell (M) 47.50
4×800 – Methacton 10:34.62
100 – Summer Mellow (SF) 12.47
1,600 – Julia Breisch (SF) 5:26.29
4×100 – Spring-Ford 49.81
400 – Nene Mokonchu (SF) 58.45
100HH-Analiesa Geiling (M) 16.27
800 – Kate Thomas (M) 2:31.40
200 – Kaleigh Hudson (SF) 25.86
3,200 – Julia Breisch (SF) 12:01.47
4×400 – Methacton (Kate Thomas, Bella Cappola, Shannon O’Brien, Kenslee O’Donnell) 4:12.74
High jump – Nene Mokonchu (SF) 5-4
Pole vault – Kaitlin Richards (M) 9-6
Long jump – Vania Mokonchu (SF) 16-2
Triple jump – Coco Dunham (M) 35-3
Discus – Kirsten O’Brien (M) 90-9
Javelin – Victoria Hanson (SF) 92-3
Shot put – Ester Mokonchu (SF) 35-9 

Methacton’s Kenslee O’Donnell awaits the baton from Shannon O’Brien before anchoring the Warriors’ winning 4×400 relay Thursday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Spring-Ford’s Justin Russell, near, receives the baton from Leonell Aguilar during the 4×400 relay Thursday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

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