Fresh off title, Chartiers Valley hopes for big contingent at WPIALs
Mary Kathryn Thornton — “Kiki” to most everyone who knows her — figures to be in contention for a medal at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships. The Chartiers Valley senior has a season-best mark of 5 minutes, 15.04 seconds in the 1,600 meters, which places her firmly within the top 24 who would qualify for the finals May 16 at Slippery Rock.
When the season opened, individual accolades figured to be the focus for the Colts. With a smaller-than-usual roster and several freshmen filling key spots, coach Lori Poe wasn’t sure what to expect from her girls team.
Quality won out over quantity. The CV girls captured the Section 7-AAA title and won the recent Big South Invitational.
“I was not surprised that we won (the section),” said Thornton, who got her pseudonym as a baby when older brother Matty couldn’t pronounce her intended nickname, Mickey. “Even though our team is fairly young, I knew that we would rise to the occasion.
“I was nervous going into the season knowing a lot of our events were filled with underclassmen, but they really stepped up.”
Added Poe: “Some of the freshmen who came up onto the team really helped out in the field events where we struggled a little bit last year. … Kind of rounded out the team this year.”
Among the underclassmen who helped the CV girls win the section were long jumper/sprinter Perri Page, triple jumper Haylie Francis, middle-distance runner Alyssa Dunn and versatile Mackinze Minney, all of whom are in contention for spots in the WPIAL finals.
The Colts were eliminated in the semifinals of the team playoffs April 30 — beating Hampton and Belle Vernon but losing to Seneca Valley — and will turn their attention to the individual championships.
Thornton, who plans to walk on for track and cross country at Duquesne, ran her 5:15.04 in the 1,600 at the team semis to lower her school record. Though most of the playoff teams had not yet submitted their times to be ranked for the WPIAL meet, Thornton is all but a lock to qualify in the mile.
She also likely will qualify in the 3,200. If she chooses to compete in the 2-mile, her season-best time of 12:03 would put her in medal contention.
For the boys, who placed second in the section and also were eliminated in the team semis, senior Elias Zajicek should be one of the top contenders in the 800 after posting a time of just over 1:56 at the Butler Invitational. And the Colts could have as many as four long/triple jumpers qualify for the WPIAL meet: Caleb Nelson, Connor Barrett, Martiese Davis and Thad Adams.
For Carlynton, which formed a co-op with Bishop Canevin this season, several athletes appeared on the April 29 list of Class AA WPIAL qualifiers:
Boys: Christian Andrews (javelin, 146-2), Dequay Canton (100, 11.17; 200, 22.54), Desmond Corrado (3,200, 10:22.8), Matthew Hilarzewski (400, 52.54), 400 relay (44.74), 1,600 relay (3:42.24).
Girls: Azjia Gardner (triple jump, 33-4.5), Katie Kozy (200, 27.44; 400, 1:01.64), Savannah Sevacko (triple jump, 33-0.5), 1,600 relay (4:28.16), 3,200 relay (10:52.05).
Thornton, meanwhile, would like not only to earn a WPIAL medal but also qualify for the state meet. But even if she falls short of making states, her senior season already has been a success.
“I was so happy to find out that we won (the section),” she said. “We had won my freshman year. My sophomore and junior years, we didn’t win. Knowing I could end my final season at CV with a title was very special. I was really happy to know we all did our part to win.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .