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Springdale's Lelis defends 300-meter hurdles title

| Saturday, May 25, 2013, 9:24 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Springdale junior Emily Lelis runs alongside Swenson Arts sophomore Markeeta Thomas during the Class AA girls 100-meter hurdles final at the PIAA track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2013, in Shippensburg.

SHIPPENSBURG — Already the owner of two PIAA hurdles titles and six individual WPIAL championships, Springdale junior Emily Lelis spends as much time worrying about improvement as she does about medals.

Perhaps that's why she smiled as much after her silver-medal performance in the PIAA Class AA 100-meter hurdles finals as she did following her win in the 300 hurdles event Saturday at Seth Grove Stadium.

Lelis, the returning champion in both events, defended her title in the longer race with a time of 44.35 seconds.

In the 100, she finished one-tenth of a second behind Swenson Arts and Technology's Amy Hicks but beat her personal best by almost a half a second, aided by the wind.

“I think this was definitely the toughest year in a while for girls hurdles,” said Lelis, who ran a 14.18 in the 100. “I knew she was going to be tough. I gave it all I got.”

Those same gusts stifled her to some extent in the 300, but Lelis handled the adversity better than her opposition on the way to gold. She held off Swenson's Markeeta Thomas, who tested Lelis on Friday in the 300 prelims.

“Was she catching me at the end?” Lelis asked. “I just was thinking about (the preliminary heat) and kept thinking, ‘I can't let her get me.' ”

Burrell's girls 400 relay placed higher than any other WPIAL team in the event, but the Bucs expected more from themselves in the finals, as they placed fourth with a time of 50.05.

“We were planning to get at least in the top four,” junior anchor Emma Brown said.

Junior Kami Kaczanowicz, the runner of the second leg, wrestled with disappointment.

A shaky handoff between her and starter Kelly Mazzei cost Burrell seconds.

“I'm so upset because I feel like it was my fault,” Kaczanowicz said. “I've been doing this since I was 6. I shouldn't bobble handoffs.”

Brown refused to let her teammate accept blame. She reminded Kaczanowicz that no one person makes or breaks a relay.

“It wasn't our best race, but I'm happy, and our coach is happy,” said Mazzei.

“We got here, and we're one of the best relays Burrell has ever seen.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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