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DLN girls track previews: Rustin looks to be in fast lane again

The West Chester Rustin girls finished first in the team standings at the PIAA District 1 3A Track and Field Championships last spring, capturing their first-ever district team title. This spring, the Golden Knights will be led by what coach Jim Collins calls “Our Fast 4” — seniors Ava Alexander, Ellie Keefer and Keturah Darwon and junior Maddie Miller.

Alexander, a former Daily Local News Girls Track Athlete of the Year, is coming off and indoor state meet where she placed second in the triple jump, 400, 4×200 and 4×400, and was ranked sixth in the state in the long jump. Keefer, a two-time DLN Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year, finished sixth at Nike Indoor Nationals in the 5K, seventh at the indoor state meet in the 3K and was ranked top 10 in the state in the mile run.

“Keturah is our Swiss Army knife,” said Collins. “She was ranked in the top 10 in the state in both the hurdles and long jump during the indoor season. She was also top 15 in the 200 and ran leadoff on both the 4×2 and 4×4, which ranked second in the state during the indoor season.”

Miller, who was DLN Girls Track Athlete of the Year last spring, won three state medals at the indoor state meet, anchoring Rustin’s 4×800 relay, and running the 800 and 4×400. She also was ranked in the top 25 in the state for the indoor 1600.

Others to watch are senior sprinters Joss Barkman and Sidney Sagullo who will provide depth and be pivotal on the relays. Senior Hannah Betchyk will also play an important role on the relays and looks to build off a fine indoor season in the middle distances. Senior Izzy Pizzi will lead Rustin’s throws group this year.

Lastly, juniors Julia Snelling(sprints), Brooke Kruger (sprints/pole vault), Bree Ambrosine (distance), and Ryan Layton (jumps) will be looking to improve on indoor season where they were able to help relays win state medals and were close to state qualifying standards individually.

“We will look to try and improve off of the indoor season by focusing on our health and competing against each other daily in practice,” said Collins. “We will be looking to add more depth in our field events and hurdles this spring.”

Here’s a look at the other local high school girls’ track and field teams this spring:


Avon Grove: Top returning athletes include senior Paige Clark (sprints – 200, 400), senior Emma Moss (throws – discus, shot put), sophomore Lily Schindler (distance runs – 800, 1600) and senior Eva Ciuffetelli (hurdles).

Other athletes to watch include sophomore Bridget Keegan (long jump, 400 meter run, 300 hurdles) and junior Eden Veenema (triple jump, 400 meter run).

“We are very deep – we have 175 kids (boys and girls) on the team,” said Avon Grove head coach Eric Broadbent. “We are well balanced overall and can score in a lot of different event areas.  We are also young too so there will be a bit of a learning curve with all of these young athletes.  Our coaching staff is the best I’ve ever had in my career.  From throws, distance, hurdles, and sprints, we can get the most out of our athletes.”


Bishop Shanahan: The Eagles have a number of key returning athletes. Shanahan junior Meghan Willis was third at the Ches-Mont Championships last year in the 800 meter run and qualified for indoor states this year in both the 800 and mile. Penelope Loeper, a junior, is coming off a strong indoor season in the 1600 meter run (5:20). Shanahan senior sisters Sarah (high and triple jumps) and Deborah Uhlman (400 meter run) earned three medals between them last year at Ches-Mont Championships. Sophomore horizontal jumpers Sophia Ceulers and Gabby Stephens both topped 15 feet in the long jump as freshmen. Shot and discus throwers Molly Coghan and Addison Egan are coming off strong seasons last year.


Coatesville: Key returning athletes include senior Chloe Domurat (sprints), senior Raysia Perry Deveaux (sprints), sophomore Kira Doran (sprints, hurdles and jumps) and sophomore Laliah Durrell (jumps). Other athletes to watch include junior Fancy Wah (high jump) and senior Dejah Morris (jumps).

“We are a very young team with only four seniors,” said Coatesville head coach Damien Henry. “Our goal this season is to develop technically, physically and mentally. We started to build a foundation during our indoor season and are looking to show progress during the outdoor season.”


Conestoga: Key returnees include junior Lila Ziegler (100, 200, 4×100, long jump), junior Tory Gauthier (100, 200, 4×100), senior Julia Harris (1600, 3200) and sophomore Lizzie Gares (1600, 3200). Key newcomers include freshman Fure Abhulimen (200, 400, 4×100), freshman Melissa Guillen (hurdles, pole vault), freshman Rheeya Sudhagar (hurdles), freshman Alexia Tubbs (1600, 3200), sophomore Lily Jones (1600, 3200), freshman Audrey Dogum (400, 800) and freshman Nicol Bovanova (long jump).

“Our strengths include veteran experience in the short sprints and relays, alongside loads of talent from a freshman class across most disciplines,” said Conestoga head coach Mark Carberry. “Our biggest challenges include increasing fitness in a short season to claim as many District qualifiers as possible.”


Downingtown East: Key returnees for the Cougars include junior Faith Fuqua (100, 200 meter run), senior Keerthana Sujesh (hurdles), senior Giovanna Scott-Jennings (hurdles, high jump), junior Nia Massey (100, 200, 400 meter run), junior Madison Brown (800, 1600, 3200 meter run). Other athletes to watch include sophomore Olivia Dever (100, 200, 400 meter run) senior Katie Riley (100 meter run), sophomore Dinah Mukalian (400, 800 meter run), freshman Kylie Shumate (400, 800 meter run), junior Jenna Lacey (800, 1600 meter run), sophomore Ellie Graf (long jump, triple jump).

“We have some great athletes returning that have been key point scorers for us on the track at all distances,” said Downingtown East girls coach Austin Tobelmann. “We also have a group of young athletes in the field events that are developing well and have their eyes set on some great performances. Our biggest weakness right now is our lack of depth across the board, and we are looking for some athletes to step up to help push this team to the next level.”


Downingtown West: Top returning athletes include senior Carolyn Tarpley (1600, 3200 meter run – was sixth at 2022 PIAA State Championships in the 3200 meter run), senior Ryleigh Hearn (200, 400 – was fourth at Indoor States in 400 meter run), senior Bridget Kiey (800, 1600 – was Individual District Qualifier in 2022), senior Taylor Rochon (3200 – was Individual District Qualifier in 2022), senior Jillian Gatland (long jump, triple jump – was Individual District Qualifier in 2022), senior Paige Oskison (800, 1600), senior Lily Henning (100, 200), sophomore Ellen Ramsey (100, 200, 400), sophomore Cecilia Shearer (200, 400), junior Ava Witkowski (800, 1600), senior Jillian Osgood (javelin, shot put), senior Mya Fuhr (hurdles). Other athletes to watch include sophomore Saania Stewart (long jump, triple jump), freshman Molly Weitzman (100, 200), freshman Hailey Sward (100, 200), sophomore Riley Dortone (1600, 3200), freshman Bella Norgan (100, 200), freshman Bella Miller (200, 400) and sophomore Neve Lambert (800, 1600).

The Whippets are led by a strong senior class including state medalists Ryleigh Hearn and Carolyn Tarpley, both are heading to Penn State next year to continue their academic and athletic careers.

“This group will be looking to teach the young rising stars as well as accomplishing a few big goals before moving on,” said D-West head coach Scott Burns. “The level of competition continues to grow in District One and the State with new talented runners, jumpers and throwers breaking through all the time.”


Great Valley: Key returnees include senior Charlotte Powell (discus); the 4×100 and 4×400 relays of senior Shayla Bismark-Pettit, Stephanie Cristinzio and Rachel Hubley and junior Briella Gorman; Hubley in the 100 and 200 meter runs; Bismark-Pettit and Cristinzio in the 200 and 400 meter runs; senior Megha Iyer (1600, 3200); and junior Kiley Mansfield (1600, 3200). Other athletes to watch include sophomore Kaitlin Grimes (hurdles) and sophomores Natalie and Aimee Dill (800, 1600).

“This is the biggest team we’ve had since I’ve been coaching at Great Valley,” said Patriot head coach Nicole Jones. “The kids are enthusiastic and willing to learn from great leaders on the team who have district and state experience. The biggest challenge for us is tapping into the same momentum that we had last spring.”


Kennett: The Blue Demons will be led by senior Kirstin Hoffman (pole vault), sophomore Sara Frey (pole vault), sophomore Elyssa Henry (pole vault), senior Ella Burnham (800, 1600 meter run), junior Whitney Walker (800, 1600 meter run), senior Clair Harper (800, 1600 meter run) and Melania Barnum Sargeant (800, 1600 meter run). Other athletes to watch include freshman Dana Diokno (1600, 3200 meter run), freshman Saige Pfeifer (200, 400 meter run) and sophomore Claudia Bechtold (hurdles).

Kennett coach John Ramagano said, “We will be strong in the vertical jumps, with Kirstin Hoffman, Sara Frey, and Elyssa Henry all in the pole vault indoor state finals last winter. Ella Burnham and Whitney Walker will look to cash in the 800 or 1600 meter run, and were both District Qualifiers last year in both events. The Girls 4×800 with Ella and Whitney will look to pair with Clair Harper and senior Melania Barnum Sargeant and gain entry to at least the District level.

“Our team’s biggest challenge is its depth, as we have our smallest team ever by quite a lot. We usually carry about 110 athletes (boys and girls) at the start of the season but this year we will be 77 total, with eight senior girls.”


Oxford: Key returnees include junior Macaela Walker (hurdles and sprints), senior Emma Neskie (triple jump, long jump), junior Jessie Cox (two mile run, mile run), senior Corinne Snopkowski (discus, shot put), senior Jessica Sitlinger (discus, shot put), senior Kyra Lees (pole vault), senior Brianna Pollock (400, 800 meter run, mile run), senior Riley Fitzgerald (mile run), sophomore Jordan Eshelman (shot and javelin) and sophomore Kaelyn Phouthavongsa (shot and javelin).

“We have a very strong group of athletes who are back again from last year,” said Oxford head coach Trevor Haney. “In addition to our returning athletes, our numbers have increased, and we intend to have these new athletes push for top spots on the team. We hope to have a very competitive season.”


Unionville: Key seniors include Mirielle Sherman (sprints), Becca Harkness (mid-distance), Nicky Diver (distance), Molly Main (mid-distance) and Maryam Klinsberg (throws).

“We are very strong at the sprints – our relay team made States last spring, last winter, and hopefully will make it again this spring,” said Unionville head coach Mark Lacianca. “Our team can be competitive if (we) can get help in the throws and stay healthy in the other events.”


Villa Maria Academy: Top returning athletes include junior Maddy Kelley (pole vault), senior Marin Rosser (javelin) and senior Mary Cate Doughty (pole vault). Other athletes to watch include senior Mikaela Halliday (pole vault), senior Maddy Samar (long jump, triple jump) and junior Jill Stroup (discus).

Hurricane head coach Francine McNally said, “Our team’s main strength is in the field events.”


West Chester East: The Vikings have several promising athletes this spring, including sophomore middle distance and long distance runner Marie Heebner, who has had a good cross country and indoor track season as well as a strong track campaign last spring; sophomore runner Amelia Piombino, who ran indoor track last winter and was successful in the 800, 200 and 400; sophomore Letica White, who experienced success in the shot put as a freshman and plans on taking the next step to continue her growth in the throwing events; senior Maeve Keefe, who enjoyed a good cross country and indoor track season and will be running the middle and long distance races as well competing in the hurdles; and sophomore Kendall Thompson, who will throw the discus, shot and javelin as she builds on the success she had last spring as well as during the indoor season.

“We are a young team with a nice core of young athletes,” said West Chester East girls coach Doug Costin.


West Chester Henderson: Key returnees include junior Alex Caronia (sprints), junior Riley Bender (distance) and junior Jen Kurisko (throws). Newcomers include freshman Brynlea Reiger (distance), freshman Sam Markakis (sprint), sophomore Peyton McElhiney (middle distance), sophomore Lindsey Hoffman (sprints), sophomore Lauren Blakey (sprints) and sophomore Molly Michell (middle distance).

“We have a good young group with a lot of potential,” said Warrior head coach Kevin Kelly.



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