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No gold rush but plenty of prosperity for PAC athletes on Day 2 of districts

From left, Pennridge's Joey Gant, Coatesville's Lebron Bessick, Norristown's Jaden Brown, Academy Park's Eric Willis and Methacton's Zach Willen run the 3A boys' 100 meters during the District 1 Track and Field Championships at Coatesville. Brown won the event in a District 1-record 10.52. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

EAST CALN >> Gold medals are nice, but advancement to a higher level of competition has its own benefit.

That’s the mindset held by several Pioneer Athletic Conference athletes participating in the District 1 Class AAA championship meet Saturday. Along with the shiny medallions awarded to the high finishers at Coatesville High School went qualification for the PIAA’s Championship Meet later this week.

Alex Teufel took that approach to the boys’ pole vault event. The Spring-Ford senior, a PAC champion by clearing the 14-foot height last weekend, settled for a second-place 13-0 that made him one of three in the field to punch a ticket for Shippensburg University.

“My goal was to progress to states,” he said, “and work on the 6-step (approach). When I made it (states), I thought I’d try something new. I’ll work on it before states, with 15 (feet) in the picture.”

Third-place finisher Trevon Foster of Pottsgrove, center, competes alongside Pottstown’s Adam Green, left, and Souderton’s Dekai Averett in the 3A boys 110-meter hurdles at the District 1 Track and Field Championships Saturday at Coatesville. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

A PIAA meet qualifier one year ago, Teufel ended up second to Penncrest’s Daniel Munro, who won at 15-0 and also claimed top prize in the 110-meter hurdles.

“He is really quick. He’s so much faster than me,” Teufel noted. “I have to speed up.”

To deal with the 90-degree temperatures and blazing sun, Teufel has his own regimen.

“Dumping water on me, and walking around with an umbrella,” he explained. “I also use a lot of chalk on hot days. Sweat really makes your hands slip on the pole.”

For Mackenzie Owens, a trip to states required an even higher level of determination. The Perkiomen Valley hurdles specialist ended up one-hundredth of a second short of the state-qualification mark (15.41) for the 100s, which meant her hopes for a trip to Shippensburg hinged on her performance in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Mission accomplished. Owens went 45.18 on the way to fifth place in the 300s, nullifying some of the disappointment of the 100 shortfall.

“Obviously I was sad,” the Viking sophomore, the PAC’s 100 champion with a 15.19, said, “but I was glad to make districts against a more competitive field. I was more motivated, going out in the 300 and making states.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Mackenzie Owens, center., smiles on the medal stand after placing fifth in the 3A girls’ 300-meter hurdles Saturday at the District 1 Championships. Owens qualified for states in the process. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Owens’ 300 time was seven-tenths of a second better than her previous personal record. She had been second at PACs to teammate Ashley Pickles, who qualified for states in the 400 meters after placing sixth.

One person who got it all was Norristown’s Jaden Brown. The PIAA’s defending state champ in the 100 set himself up for a return trip to Shippensburg by winning the event in a personal best and District 1 record time of 10.52 — close to a second better than the 10.59 he clocked at PACs.
A pulled thigh muscle in his left leg proved one downside for Brown, preventing him from competing in the 200 later in the day.

“I was trying for 10.2,” he said, “so I was disappointed even though it was a PR.”

Having previous Shippensburg exposure figures to serve Brown, who clocked a 10.57 in Friday’s 100 preliminaries, well.

“I’ll have more confidence this time,” he said. “Last year, I was nervous.”

The 3A boys’ javelin medalists stand on the podium during the District 1 Track and Field Championships at Coatesville. Coatesville’s Rhyel Miles-Eubanks (189-6), center, Upper Perkiomen’s Thomas Flud Jr., right of center, and Spring-Ford’s Matthew Pytel, left of center, were the top 3 finishers. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Another return trip to states is also in Tommy Flud Jr.’s itinerary. He’s going back to Ship after placing second in the javelin with a throw of 181-2 … a new personal record and significant improvement on the 172 he hit in winning gold at the PACs.

“I would have liked more,” he said, “but I can’t complain. I had three PRs on the day — it was a gradual increase.”

Improving on his 14th-place finish at states last spring is just one of Flud’s goals for the coming week.

“I’d like to be in the 190s,” he said. “I’m going to work hard, get 190 there and then look to Nationals the second week in June.”

Flud’s runner-up throw was two feet longer than bronze medalist Matthew Pytel. The Spring-Ford senior, however, got his 179-10 on his first — and only — throw attempted, and it proved to be sufficient.

“I have some issues with the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in my right arm,” he explained, “so I took just the one throw.”

The PAC’s top duo all season were bested only by Coatesville’s Rhyel Miles-Eubanks (189-6). Both throwers affirmed Saturday’s unseasonably hot weather offers great benefit in the javelin.

“Hot weather is good for javelin throwing,” Flud noted. “It keeps you sweaty.”

“It keeps your muscles loose,” Pytel added.

Perkiomen Valley’s Ashley Pickles runs in the 3A girls 400 meters at the District 1 Track and Field Championships Saturday at Coatesville. Pickles qualified for states upon placing sixth. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Coatesville’s Chloe Domurat, right, Pope John Paul II’s Cecilia Abruzzo, center, and Council Rock North’s Nicole Eden compete in a 3A girls’ 200 meter heat during the District 1 Track and Field Championships at Coatesville. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Coco Dunham qualified for two state events this weekend, adding a second in the triple jump to the third place she claimed Friday in the long jump. The Methacton senior went 37-5 1/2 in the triple in complement to her 17-6 1/2 in the long, declaring the triple her favorite event.

“It’s more interesting,” Dunham said. “The triple jump has more stuff in it than just flying through the air. It involves more technique.”

The medal-winning jump exceeded Coco’s expectations at the start of the season.

“37 (feet) was my initial goal,” she said. “But I pushed higher.

“It’s not the best I can do,” Dunham added. “I think I can get 38.”

Dunham’s progression in the triple jump from 17th place at states in 2021 has included a ninth at the state indoor meet this past winter.

Trevon Foster has qualified for states his first time trying. The Pottsgrove freshman placed third in the 110 high hurdles with a 15.03.

“I’m satisfied with it,” he said. “It came against good competition.”

Foster had his own regimen for countering the day’s hot weather conditions.

“Try drinking a lot of water, and stay in the shade,” he said.

Spring-Ford’s Kaleigh Hudson, center, races alongside event winner Chinonye Moneme of West Chester East, right, in the 3A girls’ 100 meters at the District 1 Track and Field Championships Saturday at Coatesville. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Zachary Willen is another PAC athlete who qualified for states in two events: The 100, where he placed fifth, and the 200, where he finished third. The Methacton junior was the PAC’s champion in the 200 and second to Norristown’s Brown in the 100; during the winter season, he was seventh in the 200 at the PTFCA Indoor Championships.

For the boys, other state qualifiers Saturday were OJR’s Andrew McGonigle (3,200) and Spring-Ford’s 4×100 relay. Other girls qualifying for states Saturday were OJR’s Claire Zubey (3,200), PV’s Pickles (400) and Spring-Ford’s 4×100 relay. The Ram girls’ 48.93 time in the 4×100 was a school record. It met the state qualifying mark of 49.56. Anchor Kaleigh Hudson qualified in the 100 on Friday with her second-place prelim performance.

NOTES >> Host Coatesville and West Chester Rustin were the meet’s respective Class AAA boys and girls team champions. In Class AA, Dock Mennonite (boys) and Delco Christian (girls) were the highest-finishing teams. … The Methacton boys and girls, who swept the team championships at PACs, were the conference’s top teams in their respective standings. The boys were seventh with 26 team points while the girls placed 12th with 20 points, two more than Spring-Ford.

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