Local runners shine at WPIALS, head for states

Hunter Robinson made a clean sweep of the individual events at the WPIAL championships, and went on to win gold in two events at the state championships this past weekend. Photo by Alex Domencic

By Jack Reed

The Avonworth-Northgate track team headed off to the WPIAL championship meet on Thursday, May 18, to compete for WPIAL medals as well as for a chance to qualify for the state meets. There has been much anticipation in the local track community to see these special Avonworth-Northgate teams compete in the WPIAL championship and state qualifier meets.

First, in the boys’ 4 x 800 meter relay, Chase Rowsey, Jonas Jason, Kenny Azzarello and Jacob Noethiger ran a time of 8:25.56 to finish fourth in the WPIAL and qualify for a trip to state competition.

Later on in the day, Azzarello ran again in the boys’ 4 x 400 meter relay with his teammates, Noah Clickett, Elijah Thomas, and Michael Allen. This historic 4 x 400 team placed first in the WPIAL AA and broke a school record with a time of 3:35.86.

In the men's 400 meter dash, Elijah Thomas placed third and Michael Allen placed fourth, both successfully qualifying for states individually.

Thomas and Allen qualified again in a third race during the men's 4 x 100 meter relay with the help of teammates Ray Mangone and freshman Kyrose Thorpe. The 4 x100 team ultimately placed second in the WPIAL, earning a trip to Shippensburg. Both the 4 x 400 meter and 4 x 100 meter squads are ranked in the top five in the state and have a shot to make history this year.

And then Hunter Robinson came to compete in the girls’ meets and dominated the day, winning the WPIAL championships in three different races.

First, in the 400 meter individual, she broke the WPIAL record by running a time of 54.49, replacing the previous record set by Breehana Jacobs of Laurel Highlands in 2007.

She again won a first-place medal in the 100 meter individual sprint and once more won first place during the 200 meter individual, accomplishing the extremely rare feat of placing first in all women's individual events.

Robinson is expected to continue to place very high, and possibly even make history with a sweep while competing in all of her events during the state meets this weekend.

Asked her thoughts on the upcoming state track meet, Robinson said, “I’m feeling pretty good about states right now. I know I've done everything I can to prepare physically and mentally for this meet, and my coaches have done all they can to get me ready. I'm confident about how everything will play out.”

Michael Allen, state qualifier in the 400 as well as part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, said, "At Baldwin, I went in with the mindset of "To be the best you have to beat the best." Going into the state meet, I feel very confident that we can bring home some medals."

The PIAA state championship track meets will be held Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at Shippensburg University.