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Gateway track and field teams keep focused on busy meet schedule

Michael Love
| Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 12:03 p.m.
Gateway senior J.R. Nola set a personal best and won a bronze medal in the 110 high hurdles at the Mars Invitational. 
Photo by Gary Bills
Gateway senior J.R. Nola set a personal best and won a bronze medal in the 110 high hurdles at the Mars Invitational. Photo by Gary Bills

To say that it's a busy time for the Gateway varsity boys and girls track and field teams would be an understatement.

The Gators teams are fresh off undefeated seasons in Section 5-AAA competition, as the squads each swept Plum on April 24 to claim another section championship.

Last Friday, several individuals and relay teams brought home medals from the annual Mars Invitational, including a record-breaking victory for the boys 4x100 relay and another win in the girls javelin for senior Samantha Taylor.

The teams are scheduled to compete Wednesday, weather permitting, at the WPIAL team semifinals at Gateway High School, with a trip to the May 10 team finals on the line.

The semifinals were to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

The annual Baldwin Invitational, one of the biggest track and field invitationals in the region, is tomorrow, Friday, at Baldwin High School, and the Gators again will be gunning for top finishes against top-quality competition from WPIAL AAA and AA, as well as top teams from all over western Pennsylvania.

On top of all of that, the WPIAL individual qualifiers are Tuesday, and Gateway will travel to Norwin for the Central Qualifier.

The top eight finishers in each individual and relay event punch tickets to the WPIAL finals at Baldwin on May 17.

Weather was bitter for the teams at the Mars Invitational on Friday, as temperatures were in the mid 40s and got colder as the event went on. Wind also made things challenging for the competitors.

But it didn't stop the boys 4x100 relay of junior Julius Rivera, sophomore Cameron Gray and seniors Jaylen Jordan and Aaron Barlow from establishing a new Mars Invite record of 43.22.

The quartet's time surpassed the previous record of 43.42 set by Quaker Valley in 1998 and tied by Seneca Valley in 2010.

During the 4x100 final, Barlow's hamstring tightened up, and he was pulled from the 200 dash final, as well as the 4x400 relay.

"The kids in the last heat of the 4x100 had been forced to stand around with their sweats off for over 10 minutes in the cold while a clerical problem was being straightened out," LaBuff said.

Barlow did run the 100 dash, and he placed third overall (11.18) behind Clay Allen from West Middlesex in District 10 (11.03) and Seneca Valley's Forest Barnes (11.07).

Gray added a fourth-place medal in the 100 dash (11.31).

Taylor continued her strong throwing in the javelin, as she surpassed 140 feet for the second time this season.

She won the event with a top throw of 141-2.

Taylor broke her own school record earlier this season with a throw of 143-2 at the South Hills Classic on March 31.

Taylor currently owns the best javelin throw in WPIAL Class AAA for the 2012 season.

Canon-McMillan's Mira Carrozza threw the javelin 141-11, good enough for second on the list.

Both are expected to be two of the favorites for the WPIAL championship in two weeks.

Taylor also reached the medals stand in the long jump, as she placed fourth with a top jump of 17-6.5.

LaBuff said he was impressed with senior J.P. Laus in the long jump with a personal best of 21-7.

He finished tied for first with Fox Chapel's Brian Papich but lost on the tie-breaker.

"What's great for him was his best jumps were two that weren't marked because he barely fouled," LaBuff said. "J.P. did a great job."

LaBuff also pointed to a breakthrough run for junior Tyler Palenchak in the 3,200, as he ran to a personal best time of 10:00.32 and placed fifth overall.

A number of personal-best finishes dotted the results sheet for Gateway competitors.

Both the boys and girls 4x800 relay teams ran to season bests.

The boys squad of Palenchak, junior Ben Farina, senior Rashawn Moseley and junior Doucet Creamer placed third with a time of 8:22.59, while the girls quartet of sophomore Sara Strittmatter, senior Sophia Erb and sophomores Tamisha and Tameka Williams ran to a time of 10:49.62.

The top six finishers in each event at the Mars Invitational earned medals.

Senior J.R. Nola set a personal record and took third in the 110 high hurdles (15.31), and he was third in the 300 intermediate hurdles (40.96).

Rivera placed third in the 200 dash (23.64), and he teamed with Laus, Creamer and sophomore Jae'Len Means to place sixth in the 4x400 relay (3:37.96).

Junior Kenny Stevens earned three medals at the Mars Invite, as he took third in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), seventh in the pole vault (10-6) and seventh in the 110 hurdles (15.51).

Junior Anthony Bauccio didn't place in the top six in the discus, but his top throw of 136-5 was a personal best.

Senior Paige McIntosh earned a medal in the shot put, as her top distance of 33-8 landed her in fifth overall.

Overall, the Gateway girls brought home eight total medals in the field events.

Senior Anna Coutsoumbis, who is chasing the Gateway high jump record of 5-4, placed third in the event at the Mars Invite with a top leap of 5-0.

Sophomore Emily Stevens joined Taylor on the medals stand in the long jump, as she placed sixth with a best attempt of 16-9.

Junior Maria Taylor threw the javelin 105-5, and it was good for fifth place.

Two Gators girls pole vaulters claimed medals. Senior Marissa Getty took fifth (9-6), while freshman Taylor Margolis-Quealy was sixth (9-0).

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