Penn Hills track and field team provides hope for future with PIAA showing
The future of Penn Hills track and field looks bright, and that was re-asserted when two Indians medaled at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championships May 26-27 at Shippensburg.
After capturing the WPIAL Class AAA high jump title a week earlier, junior Emmanuel Mitchell finished tied for third place with a jump of 6 feet, 4 inches at Shippensburg.
Mitchell, who finished at 6-6 at WPIALs, finished in a four-way tie with Mt. Lebanon's Mason Ventrone, Pittston Area's Paul Moska and Ephrata's Elie Basenga.
“I was hoping for a 6-6 or higher, but I was satisfied with a 6-4. My 6-6 approaches were pretty close. Honestly before the event, I didn't think I would make top three with 6-4. I was pretty confident and felt pretty well going into the meet,” said Mitchell.
Last season, Mitchell finished fourth (6-1) at the WPIAL Class AAA championship and finished sixth at the PIAA Class AAA championship.
In her first trip to states, sophomore Lillia Allen didn't have the type of performance she was expecting in the discus. Allen, who threw her personal best in the shot put with a 43-1 at WPIALs for a second-place finish, took 11th after throwing a 38-10 3⁄4.
After the disappointing performance Friday, Allen was able to bounce back Saturday and throw her personal best in the discus. Allen finished with a fourth medal after throwing 137-11.
Allen finished behind Red Lion's Madisen Kling (141-3), Avon Grove's Chloee Kleespies (140-2) and Bethlehem Catholic's Rachel Tanczos (138-7).
“My mom and dad told me it was over, and you can't rewind time. I knew a lot of the kids that came were only there for one event. I was there for two events,” said Allen.
“I had another event in the morning, and a lot of the kids didn't have that chance. It made me think, ‘Why am I upset when I have another event to do?' I had another chance to have my name heard.”
Allen's strong performance toward the end of the season has motivated her.
“Being a sophomore and getting a fourth medal at states just motivates me to do 800 million times better in my next two years,” said Allen.
Senior Isaiah Bailey — who finished in second in the 800-meter with a time of 1 minute, 54.05 seconds at WPIALs — took 10th with a time of 1:55.21.
The 1,600 relay team of sophomore Daequan Hardy and seniors Cam Jeffries, Bailey and Brennon Hill were unable to get out of preliminaries when they ran a 3:20.61.
The Indians finished second to Milton Hershey (3:19.93) in Heat 1 and couldn't qualify among the remaining relay teams that didn't win one of the four heats.
“They really work hard. We put them through some really tough workouts. The guys bought into it, and it really showed. Their times kept dropping and dropping,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said.
“I was just very proud of them. I was happy for them to have the experience. A lot of people get to the WPIALs but don't get to the state meet.”
Hill will look to continue his track career at Youngstown State, and 1,600 and 3,200 runner Cole Bishop will run at Bowdoin College in Maine. Bailey is mulling his options on where he wants to run next.
Along with the return of Mitchell and Allen, the Indians look forward to the growth of the underclassmen, including junior Jaden Rouse (triple jump and 300 hurdles) and Hardy (100, 400 relay and 1,600 relay).
Andrew John is freelance writer.