If it seems like the State College girls’ track and field team wins the district title every year — they do.
Now the challenge is to see how the Lady Little Lions can top themselves.
By the time the District 6 Class AAA championships wrapped up Thursday night at Altoona’s Mansion Park, State College had a huge margin of victory for a 10th straight team title, won all but four events, had a trio of double individual winners, broke four meet records and registered the top mark in the entire state in one event.
“We wanted to go for the records,” said Haley Crawford, the district champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. “We usually win districts, but we wanted to (set personal records). It’s been a cold season. We kind of just went for it.”
“A big motto for the team is to be confident and to realize you have a shot of winning if you push it,” said Rachel Wylie, a record-setter in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdle races.
They helped the Lady Little Lions sweep away the rest of the district with 14 titles and 284 total points. Runner-up Altoona had 111. Bellefonte was sixth with 26.
The team’s other double winners were Veronika Karpenko in the long and triple jumps, and Natasha Fedkina in the 800 and 1,600 runs.
The team won all but one track event, with wins also coming from Sarah Almarzooqi (3,200) and all three relays, along with Megan Fry in the pole vault and Jordan Bair in the shot put. Also earning state qualifying standards to make the field for the PIAA Championships, set for May 22-23 at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, were Jordi Rohrbach (100 and 300 hurdles) and Taylor Givens (100).
Karpenko celebrated her win by posing for a picture with the sign board showing her winning triple jump distance of 39 feet, 9 inches, and the numbers still stood on that board hours later. The jump is the best in the state this year, according to the leaders list on penntrack.com heading into today’s events.
“That’s pretty exciting,” Karpenko said. “That’s another plus right there. … There are still a lot of other district meets (around the state) but it’s nice to have it for a few days, a few hours.”
Karpenko also broke the meet record and her school record of 39-0, which she set en route to a third-place finish at the PIAA meet last spring.
“I always want to do better, and if I don’t I kind of get upset with myself,” Karpenko said. “It’s silly because even if I’m consistent, that’s pretty good. I don’t always have to keep breaking things and winning things – but it’s nice.”
She added a win in the long jump at 17-7 1/2.
Wylie was another of those record-setters, busting the District 6 marks in both hurdle races. Her time of 15.0 seconds in the 100 hurdles was a little off her school record of 14.90 from the state meet. She added a time of 45.09 in the 300 hurdles to get in on the winning fun.
“I have a really strong relationship with my team,” Wylie said. “We have a really strong support group to push us.”
She will be joined by Rohrbach in both events, who hit the state qualifying standards with her clockings of 15.53 in the 100 and 46.45 in the 300.
“It’s so exciting to have her there too,” Wylie said. “We were always talking about making it to the state meet, so it’s really great to have each other at that meet.”
Fry had mixed feelings about her victory. She cleared 12 feet, winning by a foot over the runner-up Grace Baldessaro of Altoona, but she failed in her three attempts at 12-6 to break the meet record. Her season best and school record is 12-9.
“The goal was just to make states,” Fry said. “Beating the record would have been even better, but my goal was to make states and that’s what I did and I’m happy with that.”
After feeling ill much of last week to curb her training, she is focused on the next week to prepare her for a second trip to the state meet and a run at 13 feet.
“I want to stay focused, work on my run a lot,” Fry said, “and jump as high as I can.”
Crawford sprinted to wins in 12.49 in the 100 and 25.34 in the 200, Givens also qualified with her time of 12.54 in the 100 as the runner-up, while Almarzooqi rounded the track eight times in 11:39.39 and Bair captured the shot put at 36-5 for their victories.
Fedkina returns to the state championships with her wins in both the 800, in 2:19.39, and the 1,600 in 5:20.88. That followed running the anchor leg on the 3,200 relay to open the meet.
“It has been kind of tough,” Fedkina said. “After the 4x8 I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But my coach was calming me down. ‘You can do it.’”
Fedkina was joined by Larissa Burka, Ellie Mhando and Julia Neely, who celebrated her 15th birthday at the meet, on that relay’s winning time of 9:38.83.
The 400 relay team of Crawford, Wylie, Givens and Emma Domico won their race in the last of those meet records of 48.69 seconds.
The huge scoring night was capped by a final win for the 1,600 relay team of Rohrbach, Wylie, Alyssa Valent and Zoe Wicks in 4:08.60. After the meet State College chose to scratch the 4x400 relay team from the PIAA meet so athletes could concentrate on their individual events.
In addition to all the wins, the Lady Little Lions added plenty of other high finishers, including Givens (second, 200; third, long jump), Burka (second, 1,600), Wicks (second, 400), Courtney Poorman (third, triple jump), Kinsey Thompson (third pole vault), Neely (third, 800), Cailin Saylor (second, 3,200), Jackie Horner (third, shot put) and Ellie Strauss (third, javelin).
Bellefonte’s day was highlighted by a fourth-place finish for Anya Hoaglund in 11:58.85 in the 3,200 as she tried to crack through the State College dominance.
“They push me a lot,” Hoaglund said. “Usually I like to get (the win). This race was kind of iffy. I guess I wasn’t in the proper zone. It feels really good if you beat them because they have this reputation and everything.”
The Lady Red Raiders also got fifth-place finishes from Olivia Spratt (high jump), Gabrielle Pighetti (shot put) and the 3,200 relay team of Hoaglund, Jess Book, Samantha McCarthy and Maddie Durn.