SHIPPENSBURG >> Quite a few Chester County athletes closed their spring 2023 track & field season with a bang Saturday, at the PIAA 3A Track & Field Championships at Shippensburg.
West Chester Rustin senior Ava Alexander finished first in the girls triple jump with a mark of 41-5.5 Friday, then on Saturday placed second in the girls 400 meter run (PR 54.88) and later that afternoon anchored the Golden Knights’ 4×400 quartet that finished fourth.
On Friday, the 400 meter run trials were run approximately at the same time as the triple jump, but the versatile Alexander handled it well.
“I was hoping to get at least one good jump in before the trials, which I did, because I popped my leading jump before I prepped for the 400,” said Alexander. “I really wanted to go for the state record (42-10.25) but everything happens for a reason. I really wanted to (follow) the work I’ve put in at practice, trying to go smoothly through my phases, staying low, getting my foot contact right, and I executed pretty well, the best I could. On the 400 today, coming around the last curve, I just tried to think about the stride pattern my coach (Rustin sprint coach Rohan Grant) and I were working on.”
Grant said, “You’re blessed as a coach to have an athlete like Ava who can jump and sprint. The sky’s the limit for her. Her chief attribute as an athlete is that she’s relentless – she doesn’t allow mistakes to set her back. She knows how to continue move forward – as coaches we talk about not getting too high in success or not getting too low in failure, and she’s one of the best examples for our team in how to bounce back from adversity and improve.”
Saturday morning was special for Oxford junior Macaela Walker, who won the girls 100 hurdles with a PR 13.94, then less than an hour later finished second in the 100 meter dash (11.92).
“We were trying this whole season to get under 14 in the 100 hurdles, and finally, finally I got it,” said Walker with a smile. “Before the race, I was meditating on God’s word and trusting He would get me through the race. Last year, it was my first time here and I was a little nervous (in front of the big crowds), and I fell and finished seventh. I redeemed myself today.”
About 40 minutes later, Walker finished second in the 100 meter dash behind first-place finisher Laila Campbell of Spring Grove (11.56).
“It’s humbling and it reminds me to keep striving, keep working harder, and always be grateful when you get first and when you get second,” said Walker.
Rustin senior Keturah Darwon won two individual medals at Shippensburg, placing third in the girls 300 hurdles (PR 42.75) and seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.97). Her mark in the 300 hurdles was a PR by six-tenths of a second, and was her first time competing in this event at States.
“Keturah ran a phenomenal race,” said Grant. “All credit to (Spring Grove’s) Ella Bahn (first place, 42.62) and (Haverford’s) Aubrey Leneweaver (second, 42.73); they made her compete all the way to the finish line, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
In the final event of her high school track career, Darwon was part of the Golden Knights’ 4×400 relay of junior Julia Snelling, junior Maddie Miller, Darwon and Alexander that finished fourth.
Miller, who earlier in the afternoon earned a medal in the girls 800 meter run (seventh place, 2:10.98), said, “I’m going to miss having (seniors) Ava and Keturah on our team.”
The Rustin girls displayed their depth at Shippensburg this weekend, finishing fourth in the AAA girls team competition with 35 points (first-place Haverford had 51 points, North Penn 37 and JP McCaskey 36).
Rustin senior Jaylen Williams finished seventh in the girls long jump (17-6.75) in her debut at States.
“Winning this state medal means a lot to me because I’ve only been doing track for three months,” said Williams. “When I first came here (to Shippensburg) and saw all the people I was kind of blown away and a little nervous. But it excited me a little bit, too, because I thought that I’m going to meet some people here, have a good time, and show people what I’m capable of.”
The Downingtown East quartet of senior Katie Riley, junior Nia Massey, senior Giovanna Jennings-Scott and junior Faith Fuqua finished sixth in the girls 4×100 (PR 47.98).
“This (quartet) means so much to me – this is a really great way to end the season,” said an emotional Riley.
Massey said, “This means a lot to us – none of us have been to States in the 4×100.”
Fuqua said, “I’m really proud of all of us individually and together, we made it this far together.”
Jennings-Scott said, “We all came from different places but came together as a team – the great chemistry we’ve had, we’ve just gone through the season making PRs and making each other proud.”
Downingtown East junior Luis Colmenares-Bittar finished second in the boys 300 meter hurdles (PR 37.98).
“This was a really big PR, I finally got that sub-38 I was looking for,” said Colmenares-Bittar. “This race was really tough, everyone here is really skilled, this was just a race of who wanted it the most. Bernard (winner Bernard Bell, 37.28) did a really nice job, but I was fighting for it. One (competitor) was in front of me for most of the race, but I beat him on the last hurdle, it was all passion.”
Coatesville’s boys 4×100 relay quartet of juniors Donte London, Robert Turner and Damon Watson and senior Isaiah Brightman won a medal, finishing eighth (42.53).
“I’m grateful that we ran in the finals and got a medal,” said Turner. “Hopefully next year we’ll come back and win a gold medal.”
“It wasn’t our best (clocking) but it was a great experience and there’s always next year,” said London.
Coatesville finished sixth in the boys 4×800, clocking 7:52.76 with a quartet of Tommy Wayne, Josh Miller, Marcus Evans and Tommy Silvester.
In the boys’ high jump, Chester County had two medal-winners in Coatesville senior Drew Domurat (third place, 6-5) and Kennett sophomore Xavier McGreal (seventh, PR 6-4). For Domurat, his 6-5 mark tied his PR and it’s his first outdoor state medal. Likewise, McGreal earned his first outdoor state medal.
Avon Grove junior Elias Chase finished sixth in the boys’ javelin Saturday (PR 184-9) in his debut at States.
“I got a taste of all the excitement (lots of crowds, team tents, vendors) at Districts, but this was a lot bigger than I expected,” said Chase. “On the runway, hearing all the fans cheering, it pumped me up.”
Oxford junior CJ Boyer finished sixth in the boys long jump (21-11.5) in his debut at States.
“It was a great accomplishment, winning a medal my first time at States, and a great experience,” said Boyer. “It was great to see the top jumpers I was competing against, seeing their form. The (large) crowds weren’t something new for me, since I also play football for Oxford (as a cornerback and wide receiver).”
Bishop Shanahan senior Jameson Todd finished fourth in the boys 800 meter run (1:53.07) with a strong finish in his debut at the PIAA Track & Field Championships.
“The (big) crowd was a little overwhelming, but it was really cool, seeing all the top athletes I see in the winter (indoor track),” said Todd. “It’s so loud here.”
Another medal-winner was Great Valley senior Rachel Hubley, who finished eighth in the girls 200 meter run with a clocking of 25.18, an improvement on her fifth-place time at Districts (25.40).
NOTES: West Chester Rustin senior Ellie Keefer finished ninth in the girls 3200 meter run (10:37.33). Great Valley senior Charlotte Powell placed 10th in the girls’ discus throw (114-10). On Friday, Kennett’s Kirstin Hoffman finished third in the girls pole vault with a mark of 12-9. Her effort was three inches higher than her second-place finish at Districts (12-6). Also on Friday, Villa Maria Academy’s Mary Cate Doughty placed fourth in the girls pole vault (12-3) and teammate Maddy Kelley was sixth (12-3).
Boys’ event winners (Class AAA)
110 meter hurdles – Tyrese Washington, Pottstown (14.01); 100 meter run – Lex Cyrus, Susquehanna Township (10.67); 200 meter run – Jesse Myers, State College (21.23); 4×800 relay – Penncrest (7:45.15); 1600 meter run – Dale Hall, Hampton (4:08.52); 4×100 relay – Chambersburg (41.49); 400 meter run – Luke Coleman, Abington (47.26); 300 meter hurdles – Bernard Bell, South Western (37.28); 800 meter run – Aidan Hodge, Hempfield (1:52.16); 3200 meter run – Brian DiCola, Hatboro Horsham (8:47.39); 4×400 relay – Abington (3:16.19); high jump – JJ Kelly, Chambersburg (6-8); pole vault – Bradon Schneider, Erie (15-6); long jump – Kyle Moore, Emmaus (24-5.25); triple jump – JJ Kelly, Chambersburg (47-7); shot put – Brady Mider, Berks Catholic (58-9.75); discus – Peyton Murray, Hempfield (185-9); javelin – Peter Bellomo, Jersey Shore (214-3).
Girls’ event winners (Class AAA)
100 meter hurdles – Macaela Walker, Oxford (13.94); 100 meter run – Leila Campbell, Spring Grove (11.56); 200 meter run – Leila Campbell, Spring Grove (23.54); 4×800 relay – JP McCaskey (9:05.09); 1600 meter run – Olivia Cieslak, Haverford (4:49.01); 4×100 relay – North Penn (47.12); 400 meter run – Kaddel Howard, Cedar Crest (53.50); 300 meter hurdles – Ella Bahn, Spring Grove (42.62); 800 meter run – Olivia Cieslak, Haverford (2:07.45); 3200 meter run – Logan St. John Kletter, Mount Lebanon (10:12.86); 4×400 relay – JP McCaskey (3:44.80); high jump – Niya Jeffers, Chester (5-7); pole vault – Katie Urbine, Solanco (13-9); long jump – Taylor Forbes, North Penn (18-9); triple jump – Ava Alexander, West Chester Rustin (41-5.5); shot put – Elizabeth Tapper, Hempfield (45-2); discus – Ella Lucas, Warwick (163-9); javelin – Rosalind Gergely, Blue Mountain (150-8)