SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - In most high school sports, it's safe to say upperclassmen receive the most accolades. One exception, of course, is if they participate in girls' track and field in Pennsylvania.
Over at Pennsbury, there's record-setting freshman Sara Sargent, and she is superior to just about any senior girls' runner in the state.
The 15-year-old proved that Saturday in the PIAA track and field championships. Sargent set a state-meet record in the Class AAA girls' 3,200 meters.
"You know what, [breaking the record] was one of the goals," said Sargent, who also placed fifth in her classification's 1,600. ". . . Waking up this morning, I was like, 'Time will take care of itself.' I just wanted to get this third state championship as a freshman."
Her other state titles came in the Class AAA cross-country meet and the 3,000 at the indoor state meet.
In adding to her resume, Sargent nabbed one of nine girls' state titles won by Southeastern Pennsylvanians on the final day of the two-day meet.
Engineering & Science's Cierra White won the Class AA 100 and 200 meters. Conestoga's quartet of Kyra Sikora, Marta Klebe, Dina Ramadane and Kacie O'Neil won the Class AAA 4x800 relay. Swenson's Mariame Conde won the Class AA 300 hurdles. Phoenixville's Lauren Terstappen won the Class AAA pole vault. Radnor's Lydia Ali won the Class AAA 100. And West Catholic's Michelle Davis, Jada Steward, Mia Hicks and Chante Moore swept the Class AA 4x100 and 4x400 titles.
The Burrs also scored 60 points to win the Class AA girls' team championship.
But on this day, Sargent's accomplishment in the 3,200 stood out.
Her time of 10 minutes, 21.06 seconds broke the state-meet record of 10:21.77 set by Janelle Thomas of Liberty in 1996. It was also this season's sixth-fastest time in the nation, according to MileSplit.us.
For a while, however, it appeared as if Central Bucks East's Katie Kinkead – not Sargent – would win the race.
The Titans junior took the lead at the 1,600 mark. She extended her cushion over the then-second-place Sargent to 50 meters entering the bell lap.
Sargent responded with a 67.4-second final lap that enabled her to pull alongside Kinkead with 40 meters remaining. After elbowing her opponent, Kinkead stumbled and fell on the track moments before Sargent crossed the final line.
"She elbowed me a little bit," Sargent said. "But, I don't blame her. I'd probably do the same thing."
Kinkead quickly returned to her feet and finished in second in 10:24.72.
"It was like indoor state all over again," said Sargent, who also had a come-from-behind victory over Kinkead in the 3,000 at the indoor championships. "I thought, 'Ah, gee, she is going to work the middle laps. I'm going to have to put on the kick at the end.' So literally, it was the same thing as indoors."
Noticeably fatigued from the 3,200, Sargent faded midway through the 1,600 and ended up fifth in 5:00.67.
White was the meet's only multiple individual-event winner. And neither one of her races was competitive.
Her winning 100 time of 11.95 seconds was way ahead of the 12.30 posted by Steward, the runner-up. White's victory in the 200 was even more lopsided. She crossed the finish in 24.70. Davis was second in 25.48.
Steward and Davis, however, did have reason to celebrate.
The duo combined with Hicks and Moore on West Catholic's record-setting 4x400 relay. The foursome's time of 3:51.76 broke the meet record of 3:52.04 set by Paul Robeson last season. The Burrs also won the 4x100 in 48.4.
Conde, who transferred from West Catholic over the summer, won the 300 hurdles in 44.67.
In the Class AAA 4x800, the Pioneers nabbed their second consecutive state title with a 9:08.58. Terstappen, a Clemson recruit, cleared 12-0 to win the pole vault 13 months after taking up the event. Ali won the 100 with a season-best time of 11.83.
Chester's Rayaina Johnson didn't get a chance to defend her Class AAA titles in the 100 and 200. After the 100 semifinals, the senior, who was suffering from dehydration, sat on a bench near the trainer table for a long time. Then her family took her to a local hospital for observations.