Penn Hills' Mitchell captures WPIAL high jump title
After a long year, the best athletes separate themselves from the pack as they battle through soreness or injury that could affect their performance when it really matters.
Members of the Penn Hills track and field team weren't clicking on all cylinders at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championship May 18 at Baldwin. They expected to qualify in more events for the PIAA meet at Shippensburg.
However, junior Emmanuel Mitchell was able to provide one of the highlights as he captured the WPIAL high jump title after finishing with a personal best mark of 6 feet, 6 inches.
Mitchell, who missed most of the outdoor season with a concussion, was able to out-jump Mt. Lebanon freshman Mason Ventrone (6-3).
“I have been so proud of myself with how I have performed toward the end of the season because at the beginning of the season I had an injury that had me out for most of the season. I came back and did well to get back to states,” Mitchell said.
Last season, Mitchell finished fourth (6-1) at the WPIAL championship and was sixth in the state.
“Last year at WPIALs, I worried myself a lot. I didn't get to do my best because I was worried. This year, I'm changing my mentality and trying to focus more on the task so I get it done at states,” Mitchell said before the state meet.
Sophomore Lillia Allen qualified for states for the first time in the shot put and discus. Allen threw her personal best in the shot put with a 43-1 to finish second behind Hempfield senior Samantha Orie (43-6).
In the discus, Allen finished third with a throw of 125-5. Allen wasn't able to reach the distance set by Butler junior Jena Reinheimer (140-4).
“It feels good to be able to keep going,” she said. “It feels good to be able to go up against the best. But the problem with that is that I'm going up against the best so it's a little nerve-racking.”
On the track, after a slow start in the 400-meter relay and 400-meter run, the boys team was able to rebound. The Indians qualified for states in the 1,600-meter relay, and senior Isaiah Bailey qualified in the 800.
Bailey, who finished second last season, ran his personal best as he again took second in 1 minute, 54.05 seconds, just behind Penn-Trafford senior Nick Wagner (1:53.69).
“It was a gutsy race for him. He led the race in the first 400, but Nick got him on the backstretch, and he came back on Nick's shoulder coming around with 100 meters to go,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said.
“It was a close race. It was a fun race to watch as a spectator.”
The 1,600 relay team, which was trying to defend its WPIAL title from last season — composed of seniors Azeiryus Britt, Cam Jeffries, Bailey and Brennon Hill — finished second in 3:20.78. The group was just behind Norwin's relay team (3:20.24).
“I give the team a lot of credit, especially after not doing that well in the 4-by-100 and Brennon not doing well in the 400. They all came together as a team. That was a gutsy 4-by-400 they ran,” Zelkowitz said.
“I was really proud of them. I know how competitive it is. Even if everything was clicking on all cylinders, it was going to be tough to win that thing.”
Andrew John is freelance writer.