WPIAL athletes win 17 gold medals at PIAA track and field meet
SHIPPENSBURG — Clearly, Ayden Owens was having a bad morning.
The North Allegheny junior reached Seth Grove Stadium early Saturday as the state's No. 1 seed in the long jump, but on a cool, damp day he placed just seventh at almost 2 feet short of his qualifying distance.
His frustration could have ruined the rest of his day.
“I was kind of angry,” Owens admitted with a laugh. “But I just wanted to forget about it and move on to the hurdles.”
Rather than ruminate, he chose instead to dominate.
Owens refocused to win both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championship and broke a state record in the process, turning his rough morning into an afternoon to celebrate.
“When I was younger, it might have ruined my whole day,” Owens said. “But I've matured a lot, and I was able to say, ‘forget about it.' ”
He cruised through the 110 hurdles in 13.76 seconds, shattering a PIAA championship record set in 2008. The old record was 14 seconds flat, set by Montoursville's Keenan Michael. Owens' qualifying time was 14.19.
“I just went out as hard as I could and was running faster than I ever have,” said Owens, who also was seeded first in both hurdle events. “I was so clean, I didn't hit one hurdle.
“I got over the last hurdle, sprinted and saw 13 (seconds). I was like, ‘What?' I did not know that was in my range. Immediately I thought, ‘Is that the state record?' ”
The WPIAL had 16 individuals and one relay team win PIAA gold medals. Owens, Knoch thrower Jordan Geist (shot put/discus) and Avonworth/Northgate sprinter Hunter Robinson (100/200) were double winners in Class AAA.
Connellsville javelin thrower Madison Wiltrout won her event for the fourth consecutive year.
Other Class AAA winners from the WPIAL were Hempfield senior Hayden Fox (javelin), Upper St. Clair senior Harvey Kane (long jump) and North Allegheny junior Clara Savchik (3,200).
The Class AA winners were New Brighton senior Anthony Milliner (triple jump), Waynesburg senior Ben Bumgarner (3,200), Winchester Thurston junior Tristan Forsythe (1,600), Freeport senior Robert Reichenbaugh (800), Bentworth junior Brenna Cavanaugh (100 hurdles) and Burrell senior Nicole Scherer (400).
Norwin's 1,600 relay team with Nicholas Coleman, Kyle Turcovsky, Josh Coleman and Gianni Rizzo won the boys Class AAA title.
Geist felt a lot better with his performance Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships than he did Friday.
Even though he didn't set a new personal record in the Class AAA discus, his throw of 207 feet, 6 inches set a new state record. Geist won the shot put Friday.
“I was hoping for a PR, but I'm satisfied with the state record,” Geist said. “I was pretty consistent. My first throw was 199, and I also threw a 207. Now it's time to move on.”
Geist drew large crowds every day to watch him compete.
When he hit two big throws, the crowd roared.
Wiltrout didn't let a sore right elbow stop her from winning her fourth PIAA Class AAA javelin title.
Wiltrout, seeded second, let her competition know right away that she meant business. Her first throw, the winning toss of 160-9, caught the eye of her opponents.
“That's what I like to do,” Wiltrout said. “Put one out there.”
Wiltrout, who set the national and state record of 185-8 in 2015, did attempt six throws. She only threw once at the WPIAL championship.
“This is awesome,” Wiltrout said. “After the last girl threw and knew I won, I teared up on the runway. I was so emotional, but this is a huge deal. I'm sort of speechless about it.”
Wiltrout said when she first started throwing the javelin as a freshman, she didn't know what to expect. Winning four state titles was beyond her wildest belief.
“The first year, I didn't think I'd win any,” Wiltrout said. “Now that I'm here, it's just a blessing.”