Sports

State College blazes to another district track title

It was absolute domination for the State College girls’ track and field team.

The Lady Little Lions flew high, threw far and ran fast, a blur to the rest of District 6.

State College rolled to wins in 15 of the 18 events and racked up 268 team points Thursday evening at Mansion Park in the Class AAA Championship meet. Far, far behind in second was Altoona with 96 points.

“It’s a really good day for us,” said Natasha Fedkina, a winner in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. “Just a great ending for pretty much the overall season for my senior year and for the team.”

In jumps, throws, sprints, relays and distances, State College was the best as the team won its 11th straight district crown and will fill a large bus to get to the PIAA Championships in Shippensburg on May 27-28.

Veronika Karpenko also was a double winner in the long and triple jumps, while Rachel Wylie took the 100 and 300 hurdles races, the team swept all three relays and broke four school and four meet records.

“It definitely makes us look forward to the state meet,” Wylie said. “We’re in a good place and we’re excited.”

Jordan Bair won the shot put at 38 feet, 8 inches and also qualified in the discus with a runner-up result of 118-8. It matched the winning throw but her second-best toss was not as good. But she enjoyed the success in the simplicity of her events.

“I throw a ball and a Frisbee,” Bair said. “Shot has always been my favorite — for sure. It has always come to me more naturally than the discus. Disc is more finesse.”

She will return for a second go-around in Shippensburg and is excited to have so many teammates joining her on the trip.

“I had a pretty awesome day today,” Bair said. “The weather was fantastic, I had some great advice from my coach, good teammates, good energy — it was cool.”

Teammate Jackie Horner bettered her previous best mark in the javelin by two feet and won at 127-8.

“It was my speed and acceleration, getting the technique together,” Horner said. “I haven’t been throwing a whole lot lately, and it’s been hard to put all that together. I’m just happy it came together today and I was able to pull that out.”

In the jumping pits, Karpenko, the defending state champion in the triple jump, easily won at 38-1 3/4, nearly three feet better than second place but almost two feet off her state-winning leap last spring. She added the long jump title later in the evening at 18-3 passing teammate Taylor Givens’ leading 17-11 1/2 mark late in the competition.

“I just wanted to qualify,” said Karpenko, who injured her hamstring last weekend. “I didn’t expect to get first, especially in the long (jump). Going to finals I was third or fourth. It’s pretty surprising, but a good surprise.”

Givens did still qualify in the long jump with her mark, and also raced to the 100-meter dash title in 12.33 seconds. Adding in a share of the 400 relay victory and Given was pretty happy.

“This is my first time going to states,” Givens said. “Last year I really wanted it but I missed it. This year I finally got in and I’m really excited. … It wasn’t the best jump but I qualified for states and that’s all I could have asked for.”

The 4x100 team of Wylie, Givens, Zoe Wicks and Hayley Crawford was clocked in 48.59 seconds, breaking the school and meet records.

Also posting a record-setting day was Wylie, who captured the 100 hurdles race in 14.79 seconds and the 300 hurdles race in 44.95 to break the meet and school records in both.

“I was really nervous for the 100 hurdles this year,” Wylie said. “It wasn’t going my way, but I was really focused today and I’m glad it worked out.”

Wylie will not run in the 100 hurdles at Shippensburg, concentrating on the 300 hurdles and the relay races. Jordan Rohrbach also qualified with her time of 45.45 in the 300 hurdles.

“I just love the relays, especially the 4x4,” Wylie said. “Everyone puts in a lot of work, so its great to see it all come together at the same time and you have people to be excited with.”

The day started with a win in the 3,200 relay for Julia Neely, Caterine Curtin, Emma Simon and Fedkina in 9:48.40.

It was capped by Rohrbach, Wylie, Fedkina and Wicks clocking in at a meet-record 3:57.36 in the 1,600 relay.

In between were wins on the track for Hayley Crawford in the 200 (25.29) and Sarah Almarzooqi in the 3,200 (11:28.74), along with Fedkina’s times in the 800 (2:17.69) and 1,600 (5:04.11). The senior will not run in the 800 at the state meet.

“I want to make it to finals at states and really just have a good ending to my senior year,” said Fedkina, who will run at Penn State next season. She and her coaches think if she can match her personal best of 5:04 she can make it to finals.

The team also saw Kinsey Thompson take first in the pole vault at 12 feet, leaving her nine inches off Megan Fry’s school record from last year.

“That is the goal,” Thompson said. “It’ll be tough but I’m excited.”

Breaking the 12-foot barrier was a big accomplishment heading to the PIAA meet.

“I needed to relax throughout the run,” Thompson said. “Just hitting it, just going for it. Everything we’ve done this year and in the past years has prepared me for this. It was relaxing and not putting too much pressure on myself for this one meet.”

The Bellefonte girls finished sixth as a team with 47.50 points, with one close call on a state qualifier.

Olivia Spratt was second in the high jump, matching winner Grayson McCloy of Central Mountain at 4-11, but only McCloy advanced. Spratt had a miss a height earlier at 4-9 while McCloy was clean. Also Sadie Woodring and Gabrielle Pighetti were third and fourth, respectively, in the discus and Madeline Durn was fifth in the 400.

It was an exciting day to be a Lady Little Lion, by all accounts.

“We had an amazing day,” Givens said. “We did a great job in the field. We don’t get a whole lot of recognition.”

Gordon Brunskill: 814-231-4608, @gordoncdt

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