SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - As the PIAA state track and field championships approached, Pennridge junior Tori Gerlach wasn't feeling right.
She felt sluggish, her workouts were lackluster, and her body was tired.
Physical issues aside, Gerlach, going for a state title in the Class AAA girls' 3,200 meters after winning the District 1 crown, was up against Pennsbury's Sara Sargent, who as a freshman last season won the state title in the event and set a PIAA record of 10 minutes, 21.06 seconds.
Add it all up, and before this weekend at Shippensburg University, "I was nervous," Gerlach said.
But Saturday, Gerlach overcame it all. In what amounted to a foot race with Sargent down the final 100 meters, Gerlach edged the reigning champ by .72 of a second, claiming a state championship in 10:36.00, a year after placing 15th in the race.
"I have confidence in my kick, so I knew if I stayed at the top of the pack, I could outkick them," Gerlach said of the final stretch run.
Sargent was gracious in defeat.
"It's great that Tori did it because it just shows that she's got a lot more than natural talent," Sargent said. "She has heart."
Team champs. West Catholic's second straight outdoor girls' Class AA team title can be attributed, in large part, to senior Michelle Davis and junior Jada Steward, who collectively earned points for their team across five events.
"Hopefully, next year, we can try and win it again," Steward said.
Over the last two seasons, the Burrs have won three outdoor and indoor state titles combined.
Tough losses. Cheltenham's Matt Gilmore won his first outdoor state title in the 400-meter dash, but took silver, behind Upper Perkiomen's Ronnie Gillespie, in the 200. At the time, the loss seemed to outweigh the victory for the Penn State recruit. "I got cut off," Gilmore said. "Lane 5 impeded in my lane."
There was no ruling on the impediment and Gilmore settled for one gold and one silver.
Abington decided to shake up its lineup in the 4x800 relay final, moving anchor Kyle Moran to the second leg. The Ghosts strategized to break the race open early on the Duke recruit's strength. The change backfired, and the Ghosts fell at the finish line to Central Bucks West, losing by .06 of a second.
West pushed through on Connor Manley's spectacular final push, but for an Abington team that had run as fast as 7:37.79 at the Penn Relays, it was no consolation.
"At the end of the day, it's kind of a heartbreak," leadoff runner Tevin Smith said.