While none of them were gold, the State College girls’ track and field team still picked up a lot of hardware Saturday afternoon, and again proved to be one of the state’s best teams.
Veronika Karpenko, Taylor Givens, Rachel Wylie, Haley Crawford, Natasha Fedkina and the 400-meter relay team all earned medals at Seth Grove Stadium on the Shippensburg campus, helping the Lady Little Lions to a second-place finish at the PIAA Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
State College had 32 points as a team, trailing only Cheltenham’s dominating 48.
“We have so many wonderful individuals in each event area,” coach Jenn Evans said. “Our coaches did such a fantastic job getting every single person ready to come down here and compete. We had so many season-best performances and (personal records) and school records broken on this hot weekend. The stars aligned and everything came together and we did what we could.”
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Karpenko was highest on the medal stand by taking second in the long jump. Wylie posted a fourth-place effort in the 300 hurdles and also was part of a sixth-place 400 relay team, while Fedkina was sixth in the 1,600 and Crawford was sixth in the 200.
Karpenko’s result followed a silver medal in the triple jump on Friday. That was a bit of a letdown, as the defending state champ, but she was more than happy to walk away with two silvers for the day.
“I really wasn’t paying attention to the places, I just wanted to (hit a personal record) so I guess it was a surprise,” Karpenko said.
She hit her best mark of 18 feet, 8 1/4 inches on her first attempt of the day, then she and the rest struggled through Saturday’s heat and humidity.
“The heat really gets to everybody,” said Karpenko, who battled through a sore hamstring.
“Obviously my hamstring still isn’t better,” she said. “I’m really happy that I was able to snag second.”
Givens was seventh at 18-3, also posting her top mark in her opening attempt.
“I’m ecstatic,” Givens said. “I got two state medals. I’ve never got a states medal, outdoor, so I’m so excited.”
Givens had sprinted over to begin long jump attempts from the medal podium for the 400 relay — she, Crawford, Wylie and Zoe Wicks ran a school-record 47.51 to take sixth.
“It was extremely tough,” Givens said. “It was a madhouse trying to get from one event to the other, trying to change uniforms in less than five minutes.”
They were stunned by the time and elated to medal.
“We only got under 48 (seconds) once and that was at districts,” Wicks said. “Getting to 47, we broke our school record by over a second, which is great.”
Wylie also took off after the relay to prepare for the 300 hurdles, which started 40 minutes later. She took fourth in 43.80 seconds.
“This is everything I could have asked for,” Wylie said. “Especially in the 300 hurdles, I really wanted it.”
She is used to bouncing between events in regular dual meets, but with a lot less pressure and under much cooler conditions.
“Normally it’s harder,” Wylie said. “I’ve done this kind of thing at dual meets, but ... it’s not as hard because the heat made it difficult to be out in the sun for that long. I got exhausted.”
Fedkina and Crawford both hit the medal stand for the first time individually after helping relay teams get there in the past.
Crawford was sixth in the 200 in 25.17, the final track race of her career. She will be playing soccer this fall at James Madison.
“I usually come down here and don’t do as well as I plan to do,” Crawford said. “I haven’t made finals yet, besides the 4x1.”
Two medals for a final day was special for her.
“They both mean a lot to me,” Crawford said. “But I think it means more winning an individual medal. My relay means a lot to me, like all of my team members, but I really value this one.”
Fedkina looked relaxed in her 1,600 run, clocking in at 5:00.97 to take sixth.
“I pretty much kept telling myself all I need to do is run,” Fedkina said. “I really can’t change things after that, whether I feel good or bad it’s going to happen anyway so I just decide to make the best of it.”
She started to struggle through the closing lap, after climbing as high as fourth in a tight pack of runners.
“The last 100 I was just trying to gut through to the finish,” Fedkina said. “Trying to get a spot on the podium.”
State College was 12th in the 3,200 relay final in 9:38.81 with Jordan Rohrbach, Emma Simon, Catherine Curtin and Fedkina.
Sarah Almarzooqi, in her final PIAA appearance before she heads to Penn State, placed 17th in 10:04.28.
“Freshman year and junior year, I used to come here really scared and I wasn’t confident at all,” she said. “I could see that in my races. I’d just be terrified the entire time to run in front of girls. This year I decided to come here with more confidence and try not to let the competition affect me.”
In the throwing events, Jordan Bair was ninth in the discus at 115-10, and Jackie Horner took 28th at 104-8 in the javelin.