State College’s Taylor Givens set a District 6 precedent on Thursday.
The junior was the only girl in the entire district to qualify for four events in the PIAA championships. And that performance helped lead the Lady Little Lions to their 12th straight district title at Mansion Park.
“It feels awesome,” Givens said. “I’m so proud to be a part of a program that does well at big meets.”
State College won 11 of 18 total events, finishing with a whopping 248 points — 134 ahead of runner-up Altoona. Givens contributed to three first-place finishes and a silver medal — placing first in the 1,600-meter relay, long jump and triple jump, while finishing second in the 100-meter dash. She set a season-best distance of 37 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the triple jump.
“I’ve been doing four events all year long as it’s been great practice,” Givens said. “Triple jump was big surprise with a foot-and-a-half personal record. However, I’m hoping to medal in the long jump at the state meet.”
Along with Givens, 10 of her teammates also qualified for the state meet. This includes Jordan Bair (shot put and discus), Lindsey Reed (pole vault), Lily Pluter (pole vault), Jordi Rohrbach (300-meter hurdles, 1,600-meter relay), Catherine Curtin (1,600; 3,200 relay), Zoe Wicks (400, 1,600 relay), Esther Seeland (800, 3,200 relay), Emma Simon (3,200) Elly Haushalter (1,600 relay and 3,200 relay) and Sophie Bollinger (3,200 relay).
And, although Givens may have finished with several State College highlights, there were plenty of others to go around. In the pole vault, for example, the Lady Little Lions went 1-2-3 with Reed and Pluter both jumping a mark of 11 feet. Reed was hurt earlier this week during practice but was able to recover and take home the district gold in addition to helping Pluter qualify for the state meet.
As for throws, Bair was in the zone as she finished second in the discus and won the shot put with a distance of 39-3 3/4 — nearly six feet better than the runner-up. The senior already wants to break 43 feet at the event next week.
“I’m glad I get to go back to states and, hopefully, I’ll be a little higher placed than last year,” Bair said. “It’s been so amazing to be part of this program the past four years and winning districts every year.”
On the track, the State College girls were especially dominant. They won seven of the 11 total races.
Curtin took full advantage of her final district meet as she qualified for the state meet in an open race for first-time, as she won the 1,600 meters with a time of 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
Other Lady Little Lions, like Rohrbach, had to overcome some adversity first before celebrating. Rohrbach was disqualified in the 100-meter hurdle final after a false start, but she listened to her coaches who preached focus-focus-focus. She later took home the district gold in the 300-meter hurdles — and she was just 0.20 seconds short of setting a district record with a time of 45.15.
From there, it almost seemed easy for State College. Wicks kept the momentum going with a winning time of 59.47 in the 400-meter dash. Seeland won the 800-meters. And State College finished the meet by winning the 1,600-meter relay in 4:01.49; the quartet of Rohrbach, Givens, Wicks and Seeland beat the next team by more than nine seconds.
And that doesn’t even include the winning 3,200-meter relay.
Bellefonte’s Aubrey Kuhn was the top finisher for the Lady Raiders, as she recorded a fifth-place finish with an 8-6 in the pole vault. But the meet — and the title — belonged to State College.
The Lady Little Lions are hoping they can say the same next week, when 11 team members will travel to Shippensburg from May 26-27 for the PIAA championships.