SOL Boys/Girls Track & Field Notebook (5-10-18)

This week’s notebook features Upper Moreland Central Bucks East and highlights performers from both schools. Some of the SOL's top performances at invitationals are also highlighted. (Photos provided.)

By DENNY DYROFF

Last week was the time for the staging of the final invitational meets prior to the high school track and field “championship season” – league and conference championships this weekend, district championships the weekend of May 18 and 19 and the PIAA state championship meet on May 25 and 26 at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

It was the last chance for coaches to take their teams to highly competitive invitational meets – to hone their athletes’ skills in a final prep for the postseason.

Upper Moreland’s Connor Hurst took advantage of the opportunity by turning in a sparkling performance at the 20th Annual Montgomery Memorial Meet, which was held May 3 at William Tennent High School.

Hurst, a senior, won the gold medal in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.84. He also teamed with Yasin Wakil, Shane Coll and Sterlen Barr to place second in the 4x400 at 3:25.22.

“That time was a p.r. (personal record) for Connor and it qualified him for districts (District One Class AAA Championships),” said Upper Moreland coach Doug Smith.

“What has been his M.O. for the last two years – last year he ran a 2:01 at an early-season meet at St. Basil’s and then he got hurt and had some things happen. This year, he had a 1:59 in a relay early this year and then his knee got banged up.

“Fortunately, he’s healthy now, and his work ethic is second to none.”

Hurst is a senior running in the final few races of his high school career. He will attend York College in the fall to major in political science.

“In the 800, I had been hitting right about 2:00 all season,” said Hurst. “At the Montgomery meet, everything aligned and I just went. It was perfect weather.

“I wanted to go out in 56 and instead went out in 59. Then, I had my best kick by far and dropped three seconds off my p.r.

“I’ve run here at Upper Moreland for four years  -- cross country, indoor track, outdoor track. This is the first time I qualified for districts. I’m nervous but I know I’m ready.

“I want to get 1:55. I’m in the best shape ever. At the beginning of the season, we worked on my endurance. Now, we’re sharpening the speed work.

“The big difference this year is that I’m more mentally focused – and the coaching has been really great. I want to give special thanks to coach Smith.”

Hurst is ready to cap a running career that began before he was even in elementary school.

“I started CYO cross country at St. David’s in Willow Grove when I was in kindergarten,” he said. “I ran K-5 and then took two years off. I started running again when I was in seventh grade at Upper Moreland.”

Upper Moreland fared well in all three relays in the big meet at William Tennent. The Bears were second in the 4x800 with the team of Gustavo Paiz, Kyle Murphy, Chris Stewart and Joey Kane.

They also took the gold medal in the 4x100 when the foursome of Wakil, Immanuel Thomas, Barr and Caleb Mead clocked a 42.36.

“That 4x100 time is a school record and a top five time in the state,” said Smith. “I wasn’t surprised with that time. We’ve teetered in the 42s all year – and we’re the defending Suburban One champs in the event. Making states is the goal.”

Another strong performance by an Upper Moreland runner in the Montgomery meet came when Mead won the bronze medal in the 100 with a clocking of 11.18.

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The girls of Central Bucks East’s team had a busy – and productive – weekend as they competed in the Helman Memorial Meet, which was held May 3 at Pennridge High in Perkasie, and the Lady Rocker Invitational, which took place on May 5 at Council Rock’s Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown.

“Our girls had a very good meet at Helman,” said C.B. East coach Sam Losorelli. “We won the 4x800 there – and at the Lady Rocker – without our stacked line-up in either race.

“On Tuesday, we had a meet against North Penn and used our loaded line-up – Mckenna Brophy, Brooke Martin, Kiernan Hutchinson and Campbell Seguine. Their season best had been 9:34 at the Penn Relays and they ran a 9:24 against North Penn. That’s the fastest time in the Continental Conference and fourth-fastest in the state.

“The difference was warmer weather and the excitement of running against North Penn, which held the fastest time in the conference coming into the meet. Our girls ran that fast because they really wanted to win.”

At Helman, the Patriots won the 4x400 with Brooke Martin, Jayne Fox, Julia Wiegers and Kiernan Hutchinson. In the 4x100 there, the line-up of junior Brooke Martin, sophomore Abby Eisold, senior Julia Zelinsky and sophomore Mikayla Horvath took first at 50.45. The Patriots also won the 4x100 at Lady Rocker at 50.64 with the same group except Jayne Fox instead of Brooke Martin.

Martin’s main race is the 800 and she had solid finishes in the event at both invitational meets. She was fourth at Helman at 2:24.95 and fifth at Lady Rocker at 2:24.04.

“Both were pretty good times,” said Martin. “I’ve been running 2:23-2:24 consistently. In our dual meet against North Penn, we ran the 4x800 and we all dropped our times a lot. I ran a 2:19. We were all really up for that race.”

The Patriots have qualified for districts in the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800, and Martin has qualified individually in the open 200 and 400.

“My favorite race is the 400,” she said. “My p.r. is 59.93 for an open 400 and 58.8 for a relay split. Our goal is to get three relays to states.”

Martin is a member of Student Council and Spanish Honor Society, and she plans on majoring in the medical field in college. She been running for a long time.

“I began running CYO cross country at Our Lady of Guadelope in Doylestown in first grade and haven’t stopped since,” said Martin. “It’s a really fun sport and our team is really close.

“This will be my first time running individual races at districts. I’m excited but our relays are the main thing. I hope to help the team get to states.”

Brophy also will play a key role in the Patriots’ journey to the state meet. At districts, the C.B. East sophomore will run the 4x800, 4x400 and open 800.

At last weekend’s Lady Rocker meet, Brophy won the silver medal in the 400 at 59.29 and placed fourth in the 200 at 27.01. At the Helman meet two days prior, she snared the gold medal with a time of 2:21.02.

“That 2:21 was a pretty good time for this time of the season,” said Brophy. “(The) district qualifying time is 2:21.74 and I just made it with a 2:21.02. It was really hot but then clouds came about 10 minutes before the race and cooled things down. It was nice weather to run in. I stayed with the leaders and then took the lead in the last 200 meters.”

Brophy, a strong academic student who is a member of Class Council and Key Club, came by her running prowess naturally.

“Running is a family thing,” said Brophy. “Both my parents (Douglas and Kimberly) ran cross country in high school in Arizona. And, I have three older brothers who run. I started running when I was six doing one-mile fun runs and was running 5K races by the time I was seven.

“My oldest brother doesn’t run any more. My next oldest brother Jake runs in college and John, the youngest brother, is a senior at East.”

Her brother Jake Brophy is well-known to area track fans. He was the 2014-15 Gatorade PA State Cross Country Runner of the Year. He won back-to-back PIAA titles (2014, 2015) and won the 2014 PIAA race with a course-record time.

There is another tradition in the Brophy family. Jake now is one of the premier distance runners at the United States Naval Academy and was the top finisher for the Midshipmen at the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships. His father Douglas Brophy graduated from the Naval Academy in 1992 and his brother John will start as a USNA student this summer.

“I don’t know if I’ll go to the Naval Academy too,” said Mckenna Brophy. “It is something I think about.”

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Many of the teams from the Suburban One League stayed close to home and competed at the Lady Rocker Invitational, the Helman Memorial Meet, Wissahickon’s Trojan Track Classic, the Montgomery Memorial Meet and the Neshaminy Invitational -- meets that featured a predominance of teams from the SOL and from schools in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

Four SOL teams went in another direction – south to Ardmore to compete in the Lower Merion Invitational. There, they faced seldom-encountered opposition.

The annual meet, which celebrated its 31st anniversary this year, featured teams from the southern and western parts of District One such as Conestoga, Great Valley, Westtown School, Bishop Shanahan, Church Farm School and perennial district powerhouse Coatesville along with Norristown, Pottstown and West York.

The field also included a number of teams from Philadelphia – old school teams like Overbrook and Central; New Age-named schools like the Promise Academy and the Motivation High School; and a school that would be a foodie’s delight, Academy at Palumbo (which shares its name with a legendary South Philly Italian restaurant) with its featured thrower Tasty Abdul-Hafi.

Plymouth Whitemarsh, which has been competing in the meet at Lower Merion for more than two decades, was led by Taylor O’Brien. The versatile Colonial took first in high jump with a height of 5-3 and first in the 300 hurdles at 44.44. The PW girls also placed fourth in the 4x400 relay.

The Colonials swept the high jump gold medals when Tristan Jones took first by clearing 6-2. Another top finisher for the Plymouth Whitemarsh boys was Justin Calhoun, who placed third in the 200-meter dash.

Cheltenham, which sent only its boys’ team, was led by Kylan Willis, who won the gold medal in the 800, and Jason Dunham, who was fourth in the 110 hurdles.

Truman showed the out-of-area schools why it is one of the best sprinting teams in the state.

In the boys’ meet, Sayyid Saunders was first in the 100 with his teammate James Koliyah crossing fifth. The Tigers claimed two medals in the 400 by Jeshran Gayle (third) and Terrance Rogers (fifth) and took the gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

In the field, Lateef Adewale was silver medalist in triple jump, Mutah Walton was bronze medalist in shot put and Jackie Valentine finished fourth in high jump.

Truman’s girls were led by Jaleezia Gibson, who was first in the 100 and fourth in the 200; Naomi Hallman, who was first in the 100 hurdles; Erim Williams, who won gold in shot put; Tierra Lloyd, who took silver in triple jump; and Kayla Walker, who was fifth in the 100.

North Penn’s girls medaled in all three relays – gold in the 4x800, silver in the 4x100; and bronze in the 4x400.

The Knights had a trio of individual gold medalists -- Amelia Eshraghi in the 800, Janie Diedel in the 1600, and Emily Duff in discus.

Other top finishers for the NP girls were Madeline Brouch (second, javelin), Cynthia Sheehy (second, 100 hurdles), Maeve Gimbert (third, 1600), Rachel Ahlmark (third, 800), Raivyn Brown (fourth, Shot put), and Anais Williams (fourth, 100).

There were also a few other SOL athletes who headed south to compete in a big invitational meet last weekend – the Hoka One One Henderson Invitational, which was held May 4 under the lights at West Chester Henderson.

Two of the most prestigious invitational meets in the state are held each year on this weekend. The Hoka One One Henderson Invitational  features many of the best athletes from eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware while the Baldwin Invitational at Baldwin High in Pittsburgh attracts many of the top athletes from the western part  of the state.

Pennsbury was one of the SOL schools that travelled to Chester County for the meet. The Falcons returned with three medals. On the boys’ side, Aiden Sauer was silver medalist in the 800 and Javier Linares was bronze medalist in the 400. In girls’ action, Pennsbury’s Madison Hackman was silver medalist in the 400.

In the same event, Central Bucks West’s Stephanie Hiltpold placed sixth. Her Bucks’ teammate Samantha Ronald won the silver medal in pole vault.

Neshaminy’s Rusty Kujdych, one of the premier distance runners in the state, crossed first in a deep and talented field in the 3200.

In other action, Abington had a pair of runners fare well in the 400 -- Ori Frazier (eighth) and Cameron Mitchell (ninth). The Ghosts also snagged the silver medal in the 4x400. In the girls’ portion of the meet, Abington’s Rorie Spencer picked up a fifth-place medal in the 200.