High School Sports

St. Joseph’s girls’ relay team qualifies for PIAA Championships to make school history

Kate Ott, of St. Joseph’s, hands off to Sera Mazza for the last leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the District 6 AA Track and Field Championships on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at Mansion Park.
Kate Ott, of St. Joseph’s, hands off to Sera Mazza for the last leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the District 6 AA Track and Field Championships on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at Mansion Park. adrey@centredaily.com

It’s a good day when you can break a school record. It’s a great day when you can qualify for the state championships. It’s an incredible day when you make school history.

In the first event of the District 6 Class AA Track and Field Championships at Mansion Park on Tuesday, the St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy 3,200-meter girls relay team blazed to a second-place finish to become the first girls from the school to ever qualify for the PIAA Championships.

The Lady Wolves team of Lucia Person, Lindsey Carmack, Kate Ott and Sera Mazza finished in 9:44.30 — a 22.08-second drop from the group’s previous best and a school record.

“I started at St. Joe’s my freshman year whenever there was only three girls on the team and we struggled,” said Ott, “and now we finally have a team to make it to states and have a solid program. It’s amazing to see that through my high school career and just see the school grow.”

Overall, the Lady Wolves finished 10th with 29 points. Penns Valley was fifth with 45 points and Forest Hills won with 97.

Central Cambria won the 3,200 relay with a time of 9:27.51.

“I just tried to run for my team and give it everything I had,” said Carmack, a freshman. “You can’t just give up on people you care about and who you love a lot.”

Person led off for the relay team and went on to finish second in the 3,200.

The senior was unable to defend her 2015 district title, falling to Ryleigh Ludwig of United. Person finished in 11:22.16, and Ludwig finished in 11:21.33.

“I think she just ran a more strategic meet than me,” Person said. “I went out in the lead and I was tired so that probably wasn’t a good idea.”

Mazza, the last leg of the relay, finished in a personal-best time of 5:18.03 to take third in the 1,600.

Marion Center’s Taya Whitfield won the event in 5:09.35, and Central Cambria’s Paige Wess was second with a time of 5:09.48.

“I pushed my hardest the entire time, and it was really exciting for me to be in the lead for those first couple of laps,” Mazza said.

Penns Valley’s Destiny Andrus had a memorable day.

Andrus broke her school record and the meet record to defend her 200 title.

Andrus won the event in 25.51, eclipsing the meet record of 25.64 set by Northern Cambria’s Janae Dunchak in 2010.

“If there was one thing I wanted to accomplish, it was winning the 200,” Andrus said. “I consider it my best event. It’s the event that I always know that I will do well at, so I was hoping that I would go out winning it and stay undefeated for the year.”

Before that race, the senior finished second in the 100 with a 12.58. She was also part of the 400 relay team’s second-place finish and the 1,600 relay team’s fifth-place finish.

On the 400 relay, she combined with Marissa Stecko, Maci Ilgen and Valerie Hosterman to run a season-best 50.17. The time is three tenths of a second off of the school record. Bishop McCort won the event with a meet record of 49.38.

“I was really nervous for the whole time, but once we got into it, I just got into it and it was great,” Hosterman said of the experience.

Penns Valley had another individual qualifier in Isabella Culver, who finished third in the 400 (59.92).

Culver was nervous going into the race.

“Before the race, I was just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh I’m so nervous.’ I was hoping to get a really good start and that I would be able to really kick it in at the end,” she said. “I knew I started strong, but at the end I was kind of dying a bit, but I knew I had to just keep going and so I sucked it up and pushed it as hard as I could.”

She ran against Andrus in the 200 finals and finished fourth.

Penns Valley’s Sydney Riegel placed sixth in the 300 hurdles. The sophomore went into the race seeded 12th and her final time of 50.16 was about half a second faster than her season-best time. Riegel was also 10th in the 100 hurdles.

Other top Lady Ram finishers included: Malorie Yoder (eighth, 1600; 11, 3200), Hosterman (10th, 100; 13, 200), Stecko (12th, 100), Sheri Bowersox (10th, 400), Ilgen (11th, triple jump), Kelsey Sweitzer (13th, long jump), Naomi Olsen-Zelman (12, 100 hurdles)

Bald Eagle Area’s Sarah VanCise led the team with a sixth place finish in the shot-put after a throw of 31 feet. Teammate Michaela Maynard was eleventh in the event. Lexi Turner was 16th in the 100 hurdles.

The Lady Mounties were led by Salena Garcia, who finished ninth in the pole vault and 13th in the shot put. Teammate Julia Burns was 16th in discus.

For the Lady Wolves, Asara Clark finished fifth in the discus. The senior threw a 95-00, a season-best by one foot. Ott added a sixth-place finish in the 3,200 and Carmack was 12th in the 800.

Those who qualified for the PIAA Championships will compete at Shippensburg University on May 27-28.