Carlynton 3-sport standout Wilson caps special career
There was a chance Carlynton senior Ashleigh Wilson would be wearing a Cougars' uniform for the final time when she competed at the WPIAL Class AA track and field championships.
But she was confident she would have one more race.
The multi-sport athlete advanced to the PIAA championship in Shippensburg in two events — the long jump and as a member of the 400-meter relay team.
“I had the confidence in our team and myself that we do well,” Wilson said. “I went in with the mindset we would be making it to states.”
Wilson claimed fifth in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 3 1⁄2 inches — a personal record for the season. The 400 relay team also finished fifth with a time of 51.24 seconds.
Wilson has advanced to the PIAA championships every year since her sophomore season.
She has been a major part of Carlynton athletics during her high school career as a four-year starter for the volleyball team and the basketball team, scoring more than 1,000 career points.
“It is bittersweet,” Carlynton track coach and athletic director Nate Milsom said. “She is a great athlete. We were leaving the track (last week), and I said ‘this was your last practice as a Carlynton athlete,' and I think it started to sink in. Getting to go to states to compete in two events is a good ending for a great career.”
Wilson has been a force in both the triple and long jump this season. She qualified to compete in both at WPIALs but decided to scratch the triple jump off her schedule.
“The triple jump hurts my knees sometimes,” Wilson said. “I wanted to be fresh for the 4-by-100, so I decided on the long jump. I walked in feeling pretty good. There were a lot of great athletes there. I went out and knew what I needed to do.”
It is the third straight season the 400 relay team advanced to states. Juniors Sydney Franchick and Arieona Smith-Purdue have been part of the team the previous two trips. This year, sophomore Katie Kozy took over a spot in the group. One of Carlynton's top swimmers, Kozy ran as the team's anchor and thrived in the role.
“(Kozy) showed promise throughout the season,” Milsom said. “Once we plugged her in as the anchor, her confidence grew. That is a lot of pressure for someone that young.”
Milsom was quick to give credit to senior Diamond Thomas. While she did not run at WPIALs, she was an alternate for the 400 relay and ran with the group successfully at several events this season.
Wilson said the group's experience with Franchick and Smith-Purdue played a key role.
“We wanted to boost (Kozy) up a little because she was new,” Wilson said. “We just told her if she runs her race, she will be amazing. We are all able to give each other criticism, and no one gets upset about it. We are all on the same page.”
Sofia Carrasco finished eighth in the 800 at WPIALs in 2:30.18. A member of the cross country and soccer teams, it was the first WPIAL medal for the senior.
“She ran in the 4-by-400 for us this season,” Milsom said. “So it gave her a sprint workout getting ready for that race. She has been a good 800 runner her whole career. It was nice to see her medal in her last high school race.”
The Colts wrapped up their season with four athletes and a relay team finishing in the top eight in the WPIAL Class AAA championships.
In the 800, Elias Zajicek finished seventh (1:57.74). He was just shy of the state qualifying time of 1:57.32. In the 3,200, Czar Tarr ran 9:38.87 to finish eighth.
Daniel McGeough finished sixth in the discuss with a throw of 145-8.
Johanna West finished in seventh in the javelin with a throw of 118-7. The girls 400 relay team finished seventh (49.94), just short of the state qualifying time of 49.75.
The Crusaders finished in the top eight in one event — the girls 1,600 relay, which took eighth in 4:17.27.
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.