Keith Pompey: Abington led regional pack in girls' track
Track enthusiasts can talk at length about the excitement that surrounded Southeastern Pennsylvania girls' track and field this spring. From Abington's dominance to the upset victory of Paul Robeson's Katurrah Hayman at the PIAA state meet, there were plenty of thrills to go around.
Track enthusiasts can talk at length about the excitement that surrounded Southeastern Pennsylvania girls' track and field this spring.
From Abington's dominance to the upset victory of Paul Robeson's Katurrah Hayman at the PIAA state meet, there were plenty of thrills to go around.
In winning the Class AA state team title, Swenson became the first District 12 team to win three straight outdoor titles.
In Class AAA, Abington claimed the state crown. And as in previous seasons, at least one individual or relay team was ranked nationally.
Here are some of the highs and lows of the season:
Team of the year
It should come as no surprise that Abington is Southeastern Pennsylvania's top team regardless of classification or league.
Sure, Swenson nabbed another state title, and North Penn won the District 1 Class AAA crown. But Abington was the squad that always shined in big meets.
The Ghosts won the Class AAA state title even on a day when things didn't go as planned.
According to track historian Jim Speirs, Abington sophomore Leah Nugent posted the nation's fourth-fastest time, 41.46 seconds, in the 300-meter hurdles. Nugent, Jenny Ryan, Nicole Grasty, and Jordan Matthews have combined to post the state's fastest times in the 4x100 (47.51) and 4x400 relays (3 minutes, 48.44 seconds).
In addition to winning the state crown, Abington also won the Suburban One National title and finished second in the District 1 Class AAA competition.
Coach of the year
One might think all Abington coach Brian Deck had to do was show up with a stopwatch. Some may point out that his Ghosts had one of the nation's top athletes in Nugent and several standouts in Ryan, Grasty, and Matthews.
But the first-year head coach's decision-making and devotion to the program were big reasons the Ghosts dominated foes. A year ago, Abington was nothing more than an average team with average runners. This season, under Deck's guidance, it was by far the most impressive team to watch. For his efforts, he is also the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association girls' track state coach of the year.
Tough luck of the year
Nugent had a chance to win the Class AAA 100 hurdles. The sophomore was in the lead heading into the ninth hurdle. After losing her balance, Nugent fell over the hurdle and ended up face-down on the track. She got up, scooted under the final hurdle, and finished the race. Nugent was disqualified for going under the hurdle.
Best tough luck response
Nugent regrouped by crushing the field in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 41.64 tied the state meet record set by Methacton's Ryann Krais in 2006.
Best statement race
Conestoga proved it still has the state's premier 4x800 relay team. The Pioneers won the event at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association's indoor state championships in February. But North Penn, Downingtown East, and Central Bucks West had garnered most of the attention during the outdoor season.
That was until the PIAA state meet.
Conestoga's quartet of Dina Ramadane, Kacie O'Neil, Meghan Shanley, and Marta Klebe won the Class AAA girls' race in 9:09.94. There are only nine teams in the country with faster times, according to Dyestat.com.
Upset of the year
Swenson's Anthonia "Mouse" Ballard was heavily favored to win her third consecutive Class AA 300 hurdles title. Unfortunately for her, Hayman had other plans. Attacking the hurdles, the Robeson senior made up the stagger and built a comfortable lead. She won in 43.17 seconds. Ballard was second in 44.26.
Heartbreak of the year
West Catholic's 4x400 relay team of Chante Moore, Michelle Davis, Mariame Conde, and Jada Steward was heavily favored to win the event at the Class AA state meet. However, the quartet never got the opportunity.
The Burrs crossed the finish line in first place at the District 12 Class AA championships, but Steward, the anchor leg, dropped the baton at the conclusion of the race, and West Catholic was disqualified. As a result, the relay team was not allowed to participate in the state meet.