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PIAA cross country champ Mackey leads Sewickley Academy distance group into spring season

| Monday, March 28, 2016, 2:09 p.m.
Sewickley Academy junior Griffin Mackey finishes in second place during the WPIAL Class A boys cross country championship race on Oct. 29, 2015, at Cooper's Lake Campground.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Sewickley Academy junior Griffin Mackey finishes in second place during the WPIAL Class A boys cross country championship race on Oct. 29, 2015, at Cooper's Lake Campground.

The Sewickley Academy boys and girls track teams are works in progress.

Panthers coach Derek Chimner said because of a lack of depth, members of both teams have been asked to try new events.

The Panthers open the season Tuesday in Section 2-AA meets against Western Beaver and Vincentian Academy at Western Beaver.

“The main expectation is to build up through practice,” said Chimner, who's in his first year as a head coach after serving as an assistant.

Junior Griffin Mackey leads the boys squad.

Mackey, the defending WPIAL champion in the 3,200-meter run, took first place at the state cross country championship meet last fall.

Chimner said besides the 3,200 run and 3,200 relay, Mackey will compete in the 1,600 run.

Chimner expects Mackey to make “more noise” at the PIAA championships after his success in cross country.

Mackey was seventh in the 3,200 run at the state meet last spring.

Juniors Tim Hanlon and Ben Clouse and freshman Henry Meakem join Mackey from the cross country team, which placed second in the state.

Chimner said the three will be in the 3,200 relay with Mackey, though Clouse is still recovering from a hip injury he sustained at the state cross country meet.

Sewickley Academy placed third in that event in the WPIAL last year.

“I think our success in cross country has helped get everyone excited for track,” said Clouse, 16, of Edgeworth. “I expect to see a lot of good things out of our team even after losing a good (number) of runners from last year's senior class.”

In the high jump, junior James Ford has the tall order of replacing Oliver Brown, a two-time state qualifier who walked on at Pitt this season.

“James has been working on improving,” Chimner said.

Senior Summer Thorpe is the top returnee on the girls team, which is rebuilding after tying for 11th place at the state meet.

Thorpe was second at the WPIAL championship and third in the state in the 300-meter hurdles last season.

Chimner said Thorpe looks forward to breaking school records set by her sister, Aja, the WPIAL champion in the 100-meter hurdles who placed third in the state a year ago.

Aja Thorpe, who graduated, was WPIAL runner-up in the 100-meter dash.

Senior Meredith Sproull (throwing) and freshman Nella Tsudis (running) will enter events as well.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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