High School Sports

How St. Joseph’s shined and other Centre County girls’ teams did at the PIAA track championships

St. Joseph’s Sera Mazza, second from left, helped the Lady Wolves finish seventh as a team Saturday in the PIAA Class 2A Girls’ Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium.
St. Joseph’s Sera Mazza, second from left, helped the Lady Wolves finish seventh as a team Saturday in the PIAA Class 2A Girls’ Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium. Courtesy of Penns Valley Athletics

It was hard for the two seniors at St. Joseph’s to ask for much more.

The Lady Wolves entered the season with the hope of finishing in the top-10 at states. They ended the season Saturday with a seventh-place finish after breaking five school records and earning six medals at the PIAA Class 2A Girls’ Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium.

“We were saying we wanted to go out with a bang,” senior Julia Cusatis said, “and, all the girls, we just came together and we did just that.”

Added senior Sera Mazza: “We wanted to do this for a long time. ... So reaching that goal was awesome.”

Cusatis and Mazza combined with Myah Chappell and Kathleeen Simander to earn silver in the 3,200-meter relay — and break the school record with a time of 9 minutes and 32.12 seconds. That was the best finish of the week for the Lady Wolves, and it’s sure to leave a lasting memory for the two seniors.

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 final day of states:

St. Joseph’s (Class 2A)

Saturday’s medalists (top 8): St. Joseph’s relay team (2nd; 3,200 relay), Clare Marsh (300 hurdles), Izzy Warren (5th, triple jump), Izzy Warren (7th, 100 hurdles), St. Joseph’s relay team (8th; 1,600 relay)

Friday’s medalists (top 8): Izzy Warren (6th, long jump)

Honorable mentions: Sera Mazza (9th; 1,600), Kathleen Simander (11th, 800)

Izzy Warren, who joined the team just last season, had a performance to remember for St. Joseph’s.

The junior paced the Lady Wolves with three individual medals — in the triple jump (fifth), long jump (sixth) and the 100 hurdles (seventh). She also set a school record Saturday in the triple jump with a distance of 37-2, eight inches better than her seed mark, and set another record Friday in the long jump with a 17-1.75.

“I think she’s still growing into the sport,” SJCA coach Jayson Jackson said. “This is only her second year doing it, so I think as she gets more familiar with it, who knows where she’ll go? But, yeah, she’s doing amazing.”

Added senior Julia Cusatis: “She’s involved in pretty much everything we have at our school and yet she still comes to these meets and does amazing every single time. She’s such a great teammate.”

Overall, five school records were broken during the two-day championships. In addition to Warren’s pair of records, the other records included the 3,200 relay team (9:32.12), 1,600 relay team (4:07.08) and Clare Marsh’s mark in the 300 hurdles (45.50).

And, on Friday, not a single SJCA athlete was eliminated from competition. In fact, the worst finish over the two days was an 11th-place effort in the 800, which was hardly cause for sulking.

Overall, SJCA met its goal and exceeded expectations. And Jackson couldn’t have been prouder.

“We’re getting there,” Jackson said. “The kids do a great job of buying into what we’re doing here.”

State College (Class 3A)

Saturday’s medalists (top 8): Kileigh Kane (4th; 1,600)

Friday’s medalists (top 8): Lyndsey Reed (4th, pole vault)

Honorable mentions: Rachael Spencer (T-14th, high jump), Jordan Reed (22nd; 3,200), 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)

Although State College didn’t have many girls competing Saturday, it still didn’t return home empty-handed.

Senior Kileigh Kane earned a fourth-place medal in the 1,600-meter run Saturday with a time of 4:55.99, about a four-second improvement over last year’s sixth-place time. This year’s race proved to be even harder than 2018’s, as the top-two runners — Greencastle’s Taryn Parks and Northern’s Marlee Starliper — both broke a state record that’s been on the books since 1981.

“It was a powerful, packed race and she went out hard,” State College coach Jenn Evans said of Kane.

Other competitors Saturday included Rachael Spencer in the high jump (14th place) and Jordan Reed in the 3,200 (22nd place).

Both Reed, a sophomore, and Spencer — who is a junior — will return next season. Spencer didn’t improve upon her seventh-place finish from last season, but she’s been battling through injuries this season.

But once she’s healthy again next year?

“She has boundless capability and skill and talent — and a can-do work ethic,” Evans added.

Penns Valley (Class 2A)

Saturday’s medalists (top 8): Isabella Culver (5th, 400)

Friday’s medalists (top 8): None

Honorable mentions: Kelsey Hull (12th; 1,600), Kelsey Hull (20th; 3,200), Jadyn Butler (26th, 100 hurdles), Isabella Culver (14th, 800)

Penns Valley senior Isabella Culver, a four-time state qualifier, is going to be missed.

She still hasn’t recovered from a foot injury, so her state times aren’t quite where she’d like them to be. But, in spite of all that, she still ended her final go-round at the state meet with a fifth-place medal in the 400.

Culver recorded a season-best time of 57.7 seconds Saturday, a respectable mark that last season that would’ve gotten her silver.

“Bella ran a season PR (personal record) out of Lane 8, so I can’t complain about that,” Lady Rams coach Kendyl Wittenrich said. “Lane 8 is tough to run from, but a season PR after battling an injury all year? Can’t knock that.”

Teammate Kelsey Hull also ran into an obstacle Saturday when she fell ill. She ran in the 1,600 anyway and came up just shy of a medal with a 12th-place time of 5:45.99.

Wittenrich said the sophomore will be back at states again next year.

“She’s coming back with a vengeance, don’t worry,” Wittenrich said. “She works hard all year round; she’s training all through the summer. ... I can’t say enough about her dedication because she goes to camps, she does workouts all summer. She is all in on track and field.”

Bald Eagle Area (Class 2A)

Saturday’s medalists (top 8): None

Friday’s medalists (top 8): None

Honorable mentions: Sarah Holler (13th, shot put), Rachel Veneziano (11th, 300 hurdles)

Bald Eagle Area may not be coming home with any hardware this season — but there is some good news on the horizon.

Both of the Lady Eagles’ state qualifiers, Sarah Holler and Rachel Veneziano, are sophomores. So odds are this won’t be their only trip to states, and they weren’t all that far off from placing as underclassmen.

Holler finished 13th in the shot put Saturday with a distance of 35-3, about two feet off from the podium. And Holler was 11th Friday in the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.45, about a half-second from qualifying for finals and securing a medal.