SHIPPENSBURG — Waynesburg Central’s Taylor Shriver and Brownsville’s Jolena Quarzo took different routes to the same ending — a gold medal — Friday morning at the PIAA Class AA Individual Track & Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.
Shriver’s performance mirrored that of the WPIAL finals, needing all three attempts at the opening height before finishing strong.
“I was not where I wanted to be in the warmups, so I decided to come in at 11 feet,” said Shriver. “That’s a height I know I can clear.”
Greensburg Central Catholic’s Corinne Brewer also came in at 11 feet and cleared on her first attempt.
“That got in my head a little bit. It pulled the competitive side out of me,” said Shriver. “Coach Butch (Brunell) is not one to change things. He left the third attempt up to me.
“That was a lot of pressure off my chest after I cleared 11 feet. Everyone else expected me to win states.”
Shriver calmed down after nearly no-heighting and went to work on winning her gold medal.
She sailed over 13 feet and her coaches decided she should go for the state record by going for 13-4¼. Shriver wasn’t close to clearing the height, but was satisfied to make 13 feet.
“I wanted to get 13,” said Shriver, who will attend Akron. “After clearing 13 feet, it was all off me.”
As for winning the gold medal in her final high school meet, Shriver added, “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I’m going to miss (vaulting in high school) a lot.”
Quarzo, on the other hand, grabbed control of the 3,200 with about three laps to go on her way to her first state gold medal.
The girls 3,200 was the first race of the day on the track, so Quarzo was awarded the first gold medal of the championships.
Quarzo and North Schuylkill’s Cori McCormick pulled out early and ran together through the first four laps.
“I felt pretty calm in the first mile, but then I wanted to go. The pace was a little slow,” said Quarzo. “I was going to pick it up in the second mile. I waited until the last 800.”
Quarzo returned to the track and finished fourth in the 1,600 in 5:03.81.
“I was a little hesitate about running the 1,600,” said Quarzo. “My legs definitely started to feel it on the last lap.
“My main goal was the 3,200. The 1,600 was to medal and have fun.”
Southmoreland’s Olivia Cernuto won two fifth-place medals in her first state meet. She cleared 36-7½ in the triple jump and hit 17-1¾ in the long jump, both personal-best efforts.
“I hit the jump on my second jump in the preliminaries (in the triple jump),” said Cernuto, adding “I scratched on my last attempt in the prelims and my last two in the finals.
“I’m upset I scratched on all those jumps.”
Cernuto was just hoping to land a PR in the long jump, so the medal was a nice bonus.
“I did not expect to medal in the long jump. To come out and win all that is pretty good,” said Cernuto.
Cernuto had a pretty successful year with the soccer and basketball teams.
“This year was just great for me. This is the cherry on top,” added Cernuto.
California Makayla Boda finally won a state medal after she finished fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 46.48 seconds.
She ran out of Lane 2 in her heat.
“I’m usually in four or five. It was a little different,” said Boda.
Boda said she needed to work on her final 100 meters, and the extra practice paid off.
“My finish felt a lot faster,” said Boda. “I hit the last hurdle and stumbled a bit.”
Boda, who missed the 100 high hurdles final by .02 seconds, was happy to cap her career on the awards podium.
“This is definitely a good finish to my career,” said Boda.
Waynesburg’s Ashlyn Basinger (12, 400) and 400 relay (21) and Southmoreland’s Alexis Jacobs (12, discus; 20, javelin) did not make the medal stand.