Since St. Joseph’s first opened in 2011, it hasn’t had a better Day 1 at states than it did Friday.
Every single relay team and individual that took part in an event Friday at the PIAA Girls’ Track and Field Championships either medaled or advanced to Saturday’s semifinals/finals. And three school records were broken — in the 300 hurdles (Clare Marsh), the long jump (Izzy Warren) and the 1,600 relay.
“It was amazing,” SJCA coach Jayson Jackson said. “Everyone hit on everything we had to hit on.”
Here’s a closer look at how St. Joseph’s and the other Centre County teams — State College, Penns Valley, Bald Eagle Area — fared on the first day of states at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium:
St. Joseph’s (Class 2A)
Friday’s medalists (top 8): Izzy Warren (6th, long jump)
Friday’s non-medalists: None
Moving on to Saturday’s track semifinals/finals: Saint Joseph’s relay team (3,200 relay), Izzy Warren (100 hurdles), Clare Marsh (100 hurdles), Sera Mazza (1,600), Clare Marsh (300 hurdles), Kathleen Simander (800), Saint Joseph’s relay team (1,600 relay)
St. Joseph’s came into states with a goal: Finish in the top 10 as a team.
And, after Day 1, the Lady Wolves sure appear to be well on their way.
Izzy Warren, a junior, helped set the tone by locking up a sixth-place medal in the long jump with with a school-record-breaking distance of 17-1.75. That was a little unexpected, considering Warren was seeded 21st out of 25 competitors.
But she wasn’t the only one who impressed. Clare Marsh, who qualified for Saturday’s races in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, set a school record in the latter with a time of 45.50. And then the 1,600 relay team — consisting of Marsh, Sera Mazza, Myah Chappell and Kathleen Simander — also set a school record by clocking a 4:07.08.
“It’s one of those deals where you see one great performance and everyone wants to be a part of it,” coach Jayson Jackson said.
In all, St. Joseph’s two relay teams and three individuals — Mazza, Marsh and Warren — qualified for the semifinals and finals in seven events Saturday. Warren will also take part in the triple jump, which starts Saturday.
“We’re positioned well,” Jackson added. “I think we have a great shot at the top 10.”
State College (Class 3A)
Friday’s medalists (top 8): Lyndsey Reed (4th, pole vault)
Friday’s non-medalists: State College relay team (13th; 3,200 relay), Jessica Lose (29th, 100), Casie Eifrig (23rd, 400), Elly Haushalter (20th, 800), Makenzie Graham (25th, 200), Noelia Pagano (T-20th, triple jump)
Moving on to Saturday’s track semifinals/finals: Kileigh Kane (1,600)
Lyndsey Reed may have suffered through injuries this season but, in the end, even ankle sprains and other bumps and bruises couldn’t keep her off the podium.
Reed paced State College with a fourth-place finish in the pole vault — beating her seed height by six inches with a 12-0 — and her gutsy performance was lauded by her coach.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Lyndsey Reed,” coach Jenn Evans said. “She’s our school record-holder, and she has much to look forward to.”
Reed isn’t the only Lady Little Lion who could be bringing home some hardware. Senior Kileigh Kane turned in a time of 5:09.89 in the 1,600-meter run to qualify for Saturday’s finals. She boasts the fourth-fastest seed time, so he has a solid shot at a medal.
Although her time Friday was a bit slower than usual — many of the top runners hang back in prelims and don’t tire themselves out ahead of the finals — Evans cautioned fans and opponents alike not to underestimate the distance runner.
“She has a lot of heart and drive, and anything is possible when she’s on the track,” Evans added.
Several others will also compete for the first time this week on Saturday. Rachael Spencer will take part in the high jump, and Jordan Reed will compete in the 3,200.
But, no matter what happens, Evans said she’s already pleased with what she’s seen.
“We had solid performances all across the board,” Evans said. “I’m incredibly proud of where we are as a program and excited for the girls who did compete (Friday) to have this experience under their belt and to be able to come back and do it again next year.”
Penns Valley (Class 2A)
Friday’s medalists (top 8): None
Friday’s non-medalists: Jadyn Butler (26th, 100 hurdles), Isabella Culver (14th, 800)
Moving on to Saturday’s track semifinals/finals: Kelsey Hull (1,600), Isabella Culver (400)
Penns Valley’s Kelsey Hull is in for a busy Saturday.
The sophomore qualified for Saturday’s 1,600-meter finals with a time of 5:19.87 in Friday’s prelims. (That was just one-tenth of a second off her personal best.) That race is hard enough, but Hull is also slated to compete in the 3,200-meter run, which is also slated for Saturday.
The 3,200 is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. with the 1,600 at 12:45 p.m. That’s not a whole lot of turnaround time.
“You’ve got to be mentally tough, that’s all,” Lady Rams coach Kendyl Wittenrich said, before adding with a laugh, “And a little bit crazy.”
As for senior Isabella Culver, it should be a little easier. Sort of. Culver advanced to the finals of the 400 and, as long as she doesn’t false-start, has locked up a PIAA medal.
Culver was the runner-up in the 400 last year, but she’s about two seconds slower this season after suffering a foot injury — which she hasn’t fully recovered from. Still, her coach said her performance in the face of that adversity has been impressive.
“She’s a fighter, for sure,” Wittenrich added.
Bald Eagle Area (Class 2A)
Friday’s medalists (top 8): None
Friday’s non-medalists: Rachel Veneziano (11th, 300 hurdles)
Moving on to Saturday’s track semifinals/finals: None
Bald Eagle Area’s Rachel Veneziano, a sophomore, improved her seed time Friday — but it wasn’t enough.
Her time of 47.18 in the 300 hurdles was just over a half-second off the qualifying time for the finals. She ended up finishing a respectable 11th out of 24 competitors, impressive considering she had the 17th-best seed time.
Her teammate, Sarah Holler, will take part in the shot put Saturday. Holler, also a sophomore, is seeded 11th.