West Chester Rustin girls win PTFCA Indoor State Championship

The West Chester Rustin girls track team finished first at the 2023 Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) Indoor State Championship at Penn State University on Sunday, relying on its impressive depth of talent to win the championship on the final event of the meet.
“Despite winning the state championship, it was a tough day for our girls team,” said Rustin coach Jim Collins. “We didn’t quite perform to our expectations, but the depth and talent of our team really showed, and we were still able to prevail because of it. We took 16 girls on the trip to participate in 10 different events, out of 16 total events. Each and every girl was critical as all of the races and competitions were extremely tight. We had 10 different girls earn state medals in seven different events.”
It all came down to the final event, the 4×400 relay. At that point, Rustin had 29 team points, while defending state champion Friends Central (who was through racing for the day) had 30. The Golden Knights needed a seventh-place finish to win the state title, with some fast 4×400 times already on the board.
Rustin’s team of Keturah Darwon (in her fourth event of the day), Julia Snelling, Maddie Miller (her third event) and Ava Alexander (her fourth event) then put on a great performance, running a school record time of 3:56.34, finishing second.
“Julia ran a PR by more than two seconds, which was crucial because less than two seconds separated us from fifth place,” said Collins.
Alexander, who scored 18 of the Golden Knights’ points, finished second in two individual events spaced about five minutes apart. She finished second in the 400 meter run with a PR of 56.47, which is a Top 50 USA Time, then immediately headed to the triple jump, where she placed second (38-11.5), just 3/4 of an inch behind the winner. She is currently ranked No. 18 in the nation in the triple jump.
Late in the meet, the foursome of 4×200 relay of Darwon, Alexander, Joss Barkman and Brooker Kruger earned some crucial points, finishing second with a clocking of 1:43.72.
In the open 800 meter, Miller passed several runners on the final lap to finish eighth with a time of 2:17.28. In the 3000 meter, Ellie Keefer finished seventh (10:10.83) in a tough field that included four state champions.
In the 4×800 relay, Hannah Betchyk led off with a PR split, then following solid runs by Brianna Ambrosine and Leila Duffie, Miller picked up a few places on the anchor leg and the Golden Knights finished seventh (9:35.99), just .09 seconds behind sixth place.
It all added up to a rewarding meet for Rustin, who finished second last year.
“At Rustin, track & field is a team sport – we really value every piece of the culture,” said Collins. “This state title wouldn’t have been possible without great coaches – Shaz Brown, Rohan Grant, David Smith – great athletes, both on the girls and boys teams, and great parents and boosters who traveled to support us in New York and State College on eight different occasions this year.
“It really took everyone to give us the opportunity to be state Champions and we couldn’t be more proud of our group of kids.”
A couple of other Ches-Mont athletes earned gold medals Sunday, as Oxford junior Macaela Walker won the girls 60-meter hurdles with a PR 8.63, and Kennett sophomore Xavier McGreal of Kennett won the high jump (6-6). Walker also finished second in the 60 meters (with a PR 7.54).
“Xavier worked extremely hard this season,” said Kennett coach John Ramagano. “After making states in the spring in the high jump as a freshman, this year his goal was to get to states in his first season indoors. We stressed that this would help him in future opportunities. After winning and going 6-4 in the Track Carnival two weeks ago at Lehigh, we changed our focus and beliefs that he had a shot to win. Coach Carl Lowe and coach John Paul Dean worked with him to give him the chance to do just that, and Xavier made the most of that shot. Xavier has a lot of talent and drive, and we hope to continue that with one more indoor meet as he will be heading to Nationals in Boston on March 11.”

Oxford sprint coach Jason Baughman said, “Macaela is a tireless worker who continues to get faster and stronger with each race. Her determination and dedication allowed her to run the 60 hurdles and 60 meter sprint, which are back to back races, and still get her personal best times in both races.”
Other Chester County medalists included Bishop Shanahan senior Jameson Todd in the boys 800 meters (seventh place, 1:56.29), Coatesville senior Drew Domurat in the high jump (fourth, 6-4), Coatesville junior Albert Morton in the high jump (eighth, 6-2), Downingtown East junior Faith Fuqua in the girls 200 meters (fourth, 24.95), Downingtown West senior Ryleigh Hearn in the 400 meters run (fourth, 56.60), Downingtown West senior Kelly Bell in the boys 400 meter run (sixth, 49.64), Kennett senior Kirstin Hoffman in the pole vault (eighth, 11-6).
Villa Maria junior Maddy Kelley was third in the pole vault (12-6), while teammeate, senior Mary Cate Doughty, placed fourth (12-6).
Local relay medalists included Coatesville in the boys 4×200 (fifth, 1:30.56) and the 4×800 (sixth, 8:06.41), Downingtown East in the girls 4×200 (eighth, 1:45.38), Downingtown West in the boys 4×200 (seventh, 1:31.50) and Great Valley in the girls 4×200 (fourth, 1:43.83).


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