This week’s notebook features Souderton sophomore Maria Deaviz and previews the District One AAA Championships and highlights all of the SOL’s top seeds heading into the weekend. (Photos provided)
By DENNY DYROFF
There will be a lot of top-flight athletes competing at the 2018 District 1 Class AAA Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Coatesville High’s stadium.
There will be many, many Division I prospects competing over the course of two days but don’t expect to see a lot of records broken.
Do expect to see a lot of hardy fans in the stands wearing rain ponchos and protecting themselves from the rain.
The forecast for Friday and Saturday at Coatesville’s campus in western Chester County is rain, rain and rain – and more rain. If the weather prognosticators are correct, the Delaware Valley might not see the sun again until next Wednesday – and even that looks iffy.
For the athletes, sunny weather and setting records would be nice, but the main focus is to win district medals and to qualify for the PIAA Class AAA Championships, which will be held Memorial Day Weekend at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.
There definitely will be heated competition in the girls’ meet at Coatesville. The three pre-meet favorites to claim the team title are Cheltenham, which is riding an unprecedented streak of five consecutive district titles; Coatesville, which will be competing on its home turf with a loaded line-up; and North Penn, the defending PIAA state champion.
Based on pre-meet seeding, North Penn has a slight advantage – five or six points – while the Panthers and Red Raiders are almost dead even with their potential points. Last week, North Penn placed first in 10 of 18 events at the Continental Conference Championships to win its fourth consecutive conference title
But, that’s all on paper. What matters most is what happens when the competition starts.
The top eight finishers at districts score points – ranging from one point for eighth to 10 points for first. All three teams have a lot of entries in the top eight seeds.
The Suburban One League looks very strong in the relay events with three of the top four seeds in the 4x800-meter relay – Central Bucks West (2), Central Bucks East (3), North Penn (4); four of the top eight in the 4x100 – Cheltenham (1), North Penn (3), Truman (7) and Pennsbury (8); and five of the top 10 in the 4x400 – Cheltenham (3), North Penn (4), C.B. West (5), Upper Dublin (6) and C.B. East (10).
Several SOL girls are poised to be in the hunt for honors as the top individual scorer – Upper Dublin’s Madison Langley-Walker, who is seeded first in the 100 hurdles, second in long jump and triple jump and fourth in the 300 hurdles; North Penn’s Natalie Kwortnik, who is seeded first in long jump, fourth in triple jump and first in the 400; her NP teammate Ariana Gardizy, who is seeded third in the 1,600 and 3,200; and Cheltenham’s Ni Aasia Williams, who is seeded first in the 100 and second in the 200.
At the Continental meet last weekend, Kwortnik set a meet record in long jump and also went gold in the 100, 400, and triple jump while Gardizy crossed first in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
The Suburban One League has three other top seeds for the district meet -- Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Taylor O’Brien in 300 hurdles (American Conference champion who is also fourth seed in high jump), Cheltenham’s American Conference champion Brianna Smith in high jump, and Hatboro Horsham’s American Conference gold medalist Allison Riches in pole vault.
The SOL girl with the best potential in field events is Souderton’s Maria Deaviz. The powerful rookie who swept the throwing events at last weekend’s Continental Conference Championships will travel to Coatesville as second seed in shot put, fourth seed in discus (the only SOL athlete in the top 11) and 10th seed in javelin.
“Maria is a sophomore, and this is her first year on the team,” said Souderton coach Mike Feliciani. “She threw in junior high and then stopped to concentrate on soccer and basketball. I’ve been chasing her down the hallway trying to get her to join the track team for the last two years. I finally got her out – got her to do only track in winter and spring.”
Deaviz said, “He’s not joking about his chasing me in the hallways. I threw in seventh grade and then stopped because I was busy with other sports. I used to play school soccer, club soccer and AAU basketball. I still play school soccer.”
Deaviz’s combination of athletic skills, strength and mental toughness was perfect for a thrower.
“Maria started this winter and broke the indoor school record for shot put in her second meet,” said Feliciani. “Then, she broke the outdoor record in her first dual meet this spring. Javelin was the event that clicked right away. She was over 100 feet in her first meet and now she’s over 117.
“Shot put and discus developed over the course of the season. She has chipped away at shot put but I believe that eventually discus will be her better event. She won all three at the league meet and I don’t think that’s been done by any thrower for a while.
“Maria is an athletic kid – very strong – and she thrives on competition. When she gets behind, her best throws come out. The bigger the pressure, the better she gets.”
Deaviz, whose parents are from Brazil – her father from Sao Paulo and her mother from Curitiba – agrees with her coach’s assessment.
“This is my first district meet so I’m a little nervous,” said Deaviz. “But, a competitive environment gets me going. Having a lot of people watching me compete helps me do better.
“I’m a pretty strong girl and my mental health has been going up. I had quit basketball and soccer for a year and I was down on myself. Now, I’m back. This year, I’m loving every moment.
“For districts, I’m looking at the number one seeds to see what I have to do to beat them. I train hard every day. I just started and I have a long way to go. Right now, I’m focusing on shot put and hoping for the best in discus. With javelin, I’m just having fun.”
Even though Deaviz is just getting started, she is already “difícil de derrotar” (“hard to beat” in Portuguese).
Neshaminy’s Shelby Kishel, who broke the National Conference record last weekend, is seeded third in javelin while Pennsbury’s Christine Castaldi-Smith has eighth seed in the event.
Other high seeds in field events are Council Rock North’s Marissa Hsu, who has fourth seed in long jump, along with Council Rock North’s Kate Donnelly and Council Rock South’s Gianna Holister, who are tied for second seed in high jump.
Top challengers in sprint events from the SOL are Abington’s Rorie Spencer (fourth, 100 and 200), Pennsbury’s Madison Hackman (sixth, 400 and 200), Truman’s Jaleezia Gibson (fifth, 100; seventh, 200), Cheltenham’s Alexis Crosby (second, 400), C.B. West’s Stephanie Hiltpold (fourth, 400). The SOL has seven of the top 10 seeds in the 400.
The league is loaded in both hurdles events.
In addition to Langley-Walker and O’Brien, the SOL has four of the top six in the 300 hurdles with North Penn’s Anais Williams (who was a quadruple-winner at the Continental Conference meet) seeded fifth and Cheltenham’s Brianna Smith seeded sixth. In the 100 hurdles, the league has five of the top six – Langley-Walker (second), Rock South’s Elke Knecht (third), North Penn’s Williams (fourth), Cheltenham’s Smith (fifth) and Truman’s Naomi Hallman (sixth).
The only area where there is a paucity of SOL athletes with strong seeds is the middle distance/distance events. Central Buck’s West’s fifth-seeded Emmi Simon is the only one in the top eight in the 800. North Penn’s Gardizy and Pennridge’s Ashley Gordon are the only runners in the top eight in the 1,600 while Gardizy is the only top five seed in the 3,200.
There is a similar scenario in the boys’ meet – slim in the distance events and heavy in the relays.
In the 1,600, C.B. West’s fourth-seeded Brian Baker is the only SOL runner in the top 10 seeds. In the 3,200, Neshaminy’s Rusty Kujdych, who won his third consecutive National Conference gold medal in the event last weekend, is seeded first -- and is the league’s only seed in the top six.
The relays are a horse of a different color.
The 4x800 looks like it could be a combined SOL championship race with top-seeded C.B. West along with Pennridge (second seed), C.B. East (third), Pennsbury (sixth), Bensalem (seventh), Council Rock South (eighth), Quakertown (ninth) and North Penn (11th).
The 4x400 is equally loaded with Bensalem (first), Pennridge (third), Pennsbury (fourth), C.B. West (fifth), Abington (sixth), Truman (seventh), Council Rock South (10th) and C.B. East (12th).
Four of the top six seeds in the 4x100 are from the Suburban One League – Truman (first), Upper Moreland (fourth), William Tennent (fifth) and Pennridge (sixth).
Truman’s Sayyid Saunders, who defended his National Conference titles last week in the 200 (with a meet record) and 100, is seeded first for districts in both events.
The top five seeds in the 100 are all from SOL schools – C.B. South’s Michael Cannon (second) Neshaminy’s Savion Hebron (third), C.B. West’s Luke Henson (fourth) and Pennridge’s Josh Pinkney (fifth).
In the 400, Pennridge’s Anderson Dimon, who set Continental Conference meet records in the 100 and 200 last week, is top seed followed by Rock North’s Michael Welde (third), Bensalem’s Jaiden Ventour (fourth), Upper Dublin’s Michael Henning (fifth), North Penn’s Kasseem Cartwright (seventh) and Wissahickon’s Rahsheed Wright (eighth).
In the 200, six of the top seven seeds belong to the SOL. In addition to Saunders, Hebron is seeded second, Dimon fourth, Henning fifth, Pennridge’s John Nash sixth and Ventour seventh.
The 800 is also heavy at the top with Suburban One competitors – Pennsbury’s Aiden Sauer (second), Pennridge’s Matt Eissler (third), C.B. West’s Jake Claricuzio (fourth), Pennsbury’s Jed Scratchard (fifth) and Rock South’s Collin Ochs.
In hurdles events, Central Bucks South’s Kyle Magee is seeded second in the 300 hurdles. Pennsbury’s Nasan Robbins, who swept the hurdles at the 2018 National Conference meet, is seeded third in the 110s while Wissahickon’s Liam Davies, the American Conference gold medalist, has the fourth seed.
The only SOL athlete other than Saunders to earn two top seeds for this weekend’s big meet in Coatesville is Bensalem’s Yobani Moreno in shot put and discus.
At last weekend’s National Conference Championships, Moreno defended his titles in both events and broke the meet record in discus by more than 10 feet. In discus, Pennsbury’s Joshua Anturase has the second seed at the district meet while Rock North’s Chris Bagnell has the third seed in javelin.
William Tennent’s Markeith Baxter, who set the Continental Conference meet record in long jump a week ago, has the number one seed at this year’s district meet. His teammate Randy Shoemaker is seeded second in pole vault while Rock South’s John Franco has the third seed in the same event.
Two of the top three seeds in high jump belong to Pennridge’s second-seeded Vince Polignano and Bensalem’s third-seeded Elijah Rizzo. The SOL also accounts for three of the top five in triple jump – Neshaminy’s Logan Williamson (second), Pennridge’s Ryan Sattell (fourth) and C.B. East’s Marshall Duncan (fifth)