The Cheltenham girls’ squad captured an unprecedented sixth straight District One 3A Track & Field Championships on Saturday at Coatesville. Denny Dyroff highlights all of the SOL’s golden performances. (Photos by Denny Dyroff)
By DENNY DYROFF
CALN TOWNSHIP -- The girls from Cheltenham’s track-and-field team had a tradition to uphold at this weekend’s District 1 Class AAA Track and Field Championships at Coatesville High
Last year, the Panthers won their fifth straight district team championship – a feat that had never been done before.
This year, the Cheltenham girls took their accomplishment to a whole new level. They scored 66 points to claim the Class AAA team trophy for the sixth year in a row.
The sprinter-heavy Panthers took first in the 4x100 at 47.60 with the team of Alayna Faison, Cynthia Sheehy, Nicole Noel and Anais Williams and first in the 4x400 at 3:53.23 with the foursome of Bria Barnes, Ciani Fleming, Alexis Crosby and Ni Asia Williams.
“We ran a pretty good time considering the conditions here and all the prior races that we ran individually,” said Barnes. “Our p.r. (personal record) is 47.36 but the weather was terrible today.”
Alexis Crosby won the open 400 with a time of 56.42.
“The 400 felt amazing,” she said. “I had won gold medals at districts in relay events, but this was my first time to win an individual gold medal.
“I usually break down in the final 100. Lately, I’ve been working on dropping my shoulders in the last 100 and giving it all I got. I felt the girl next to me. So, I dropped my shoulders coming off the last turn and took off. My time wasn’t a p.r. but it was my fastest time of the season.”
Brianna Smith won the gold medal in high jump with a height of 5-7. She also placed fourth in both the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles.
Other key scorers in Cheltenham’s drive to the top were Ni Asia Williams (third, 200; sixth, 100), Bria Barnes (fifth, 300 hurdles) and Ari Wallace (sixth, 800).
Suburban One League teams dominated the top five in the team standings. North Penn was runner-up to Cheltenham with 53 followed by Coatesville (47), Central Bucks West (39) and Upper Dublin (38.5).
The SOL also had a lock on the spots at the top. Suburban One athletes won gold medals in 10 of the meet’s 18 events – and silver medals in four of the other eight.
Souderton’s Maria Deaviz snagged the gold medal in shot put with a heave of 39-6 and added a sixth-place medal in discus with a throw of 109-4.
“My shot put was really good,” said Deaviz. “I just did my thing and tossed it out there. I was trying to go for 40. It was still close to my p.r. Discus I wasn’t too happy with. I could have performed better. Still, I’m going to states. I’ll show what I’m made of there.”
Upper Dublin’s Madison Langley-Walker finished well in four events – second, long jump (19-2.25), first in the 300 hurdles (42.93), first in triple jump (38-6.75), and second in the 100 hurdles (14.23).
“The 300 hurdles was a good race,” said Langley-Walker, a senior who is headed to the University of Oklahoma. “I was trying to get in the 42s. It helped that I was pushed by (Plymouth Whitemarsh’s) Taylor O’Brien. In the 100 hurdles, I had my best time yesterday in the trials.”
North Penn’s Natalie Kwortnik was gold medalist in long jump with a distance of 19-4. She also took second in the 400 at 56.98 and third in triple jump with a 37-9.75.
“I got a p.r. in long jump,” said Kwortnik, a junior. “I felt like I was more warmed-up – and more relaxed. In triple jump, my second phase was a little short. My 400 was O.K. but I was feeling a little tired.”
Abington’s Rorie Spencer took the gold medal in the 200 at 24.84 and second place in the 100 in 12.20 while Hatboro Horsham’s Allison Riches had the top height in pole vault at 11-6.
“This is my first district gold medal,” said Spencer. “I’m very excited. This is my first year running at districts and I got first in the 100 and second in the 200.
“Last year, I got a concussion at SOLs and wasn’t able to compete at districts or states. To finally be able to complete a season without injuries is great.”
The other silver medalists were Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Taylor O’Brien in the 300 hurdles and Pennridge’s Ashley Gordon in the 1600.
The Suburban One League’s boys didn’t fare too badly in field events either having accounted for three gold medals and four silver medals in the seven jumping and throwing events.
Teams from the SOL won gold medals in two of the three relays with Central Bucks West's 4x800 relay team of Ben Bunch, Owen Shields, Luke Fehrman and Brian Baker taking first place with a time of 7:54.50 and Bensalem claiming the gold medal in the 4x400.
Bensalem’s 4x400 team, which posted a winning time of 3:18.49, featured Jaiden Ventour, Jared O’Connell, Dabi Chanez and Justin Johnson.
“Our season best was 3:19 before today,” said Ventour. “We got our goal time today. Everything was good about our race. Now, our goal for states is 3:17 and finishing first.”
The Owls’ top individual scorer was Yobani Moreno who won double-gold. The powerful weight specialist won discus with a heave of 173-5 – more than 10 feet better than anyone else in the meet – and took first in shot put with a distance of 51-10.75.
Another top finisher for the Owls was Elijah Rizzo, who topped the field in high jump with a height of 6-3. Central Bucks West’s Marshall Duncan cleared the same height, but Rizzo got first place via fewer misses.
Bensalem, which years ago was the host squad for the district championship meet, finished runner-up in the team standings this weekend to the current host.
The Owls finished with 34 points and were nipped by host Coatesville with 45. Seven of the next nine places in the team standings belonged to Suburban One League teams – Neshaminy (third), Pennridge (fifth), Central Bucks East (seventh), Central Bucks South (eighth), Central Bucks West and Pennsbury (tied for ninth) and Truman (11th).
Truman’s Sayyid Saunders, who defended his National Conference titles last week in the 200 (with a meet record) and 100, was seeded first at districts in both events.
The speedy senior held his seed in the 200 and crossed first at 21.65. He struggled a little in the 100 and placed seventh at 10.97. He was also part of the Tigers’ silver medal 4x100 and sixth-place 4x400 relays.
“I had a really bad start in the finals of the 100 and finished seventh,” said Saunders. “I just didn’t get out of the blocks. When I looked up, everyone was in front of me. Fortunately, I caught one guy. The 200 went really well. I hoped for better weather. I would have done 20.7.
“I feel we could have done way better in the 4x100. We ran a 42.6 and we’re ranked Number One in the state with a 41.5. I’m also ranked Number One in the state in the 100 and 200.”
Other gold medalists were Neshaminy’s Savion Hebron in the 100 at 10.87 and Rusty Kujdych in the 3200 at 9:22.77 and Pennsbury’s Aiden Sauer.
“The rain cleared which was nice for our race,” said Sauer. “It was the best conditions of the meet.
“I was just trying to take it out hard. We came through at 55 or 56. With 300 to go, (Quakertown’s Hudson) Delisle was right next to me. Around 200, I started bringing my kick. Then, I heard someone come up on me and I just let it rip.”
C.B. South went one-two in the 300 hurdles with Kyle Magee first at 39.74 and his Titan teammate Chris Cardamone in runner-up position with a clocking of 40.09.
“I’ve been working hard all year and now I’m going to states as a district champion,” said Magee, a senior. “It was great to be running alongside Chris. We’ve pushed each other all season – in practice and at meets. Today, I got well and didn’t fade. I kept pushing all the way.”
Cardamone, another Titan senior, said, “My p.r. is 39.78 and today I ran a 40.09. But, today I was just focusing on getting to states. I was seeded sixth coming into the meet and then had my best time in the prelims.
“Kyle and I push each other all the time. I think that’s the main reason we’ve gotten so far this season.”