The WPIAL Track & Field Championships was one of many events cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The district meet returns to Slippery Rock University Wednesday after a year hiatus and several local athletes are poised for a strong comeback on the awards stand.
Brownsville sophomore Jolena Quarzo enters the 2021 meet as the girl to beat in Class AA in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Her seed time in the 3,200 is 54 seconds faster than the next girl and joins Moon’s Mia Cochran, in Class AAA, as the only girls in the WPIAL to crack 11 minutes in the eight-lap race. Quarzo will likely have her sights set on the WPIAL record in the 3,200 of 10:34.35, set by her older sister Gionna in 2019.
Quarzo is also the top seed in the 1,600 by six seconds.
Aziya Dade (100), the girls 400 relay, Malaree Duggan-Hudock (triple jump), and Cooper Salvay (100) also qualified in the Class AA meet for Brownsville.
The last time Waynesburg Central’s Taylor Shriver competed in the WPIAL finals she broke former Lady Raider standout Marissa Kalsey’s record in the pole vault. Shriver’s qualifying mark entering the finals is 12-9, two inches higher than her meet record mark of 12-7.
Teammate Gabe McConville looks to continue his strong season after he qualified for the 1,600 with the fastest time this spring in Class AA and the third-fastest time in the 800. McConville placed 10th in the 1,600 two years ago.
The Lady Raiders’ Ashlyn Basinger has the second-fastest time in the 400 entering the Class AA meet. She also qualified in the 200.
The Waynesburg boys also qualified Breydon Woods (110 high hurdles), the 3,200, 1,600 and 400 relays, Tyler McIe (high jump), Anthony Kutcher (300 intermediate hurdles), Andrew Layton (pole vault), and Dawson Fowler (triple jump, javelin). The Lady Raiders have the 400 relay, Jordan Dean (300 intermediate hurdles), Emily Mahle (pole vault), and Regan Carlson (javelin) competing.
California’s Makayla Boda placed fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles and finished sixth in the 100 high hurdles two springs ago. The senior enters with the second-fastest time in Class AA in both races.
Southmoreland’s Makayla Slack sprinted to fourth place in the Class AA 100 two years ago, and the senior returns for another shot at a medal and PIAA berth in the sprint. Teammate Alexis Jacobs just missed the awards stand after she finished ninth in the shot put, but will have another chance as the second seed in the event. She also qualified in the discus.
Southmoreland sophomore Olivia Cernuto enters the Class AA triple jump with the second-longest distance this spring. She also qualified in the long jump.
The Scotties’ Ray Hribal earned a spot in all three Class AA throws and enters as the second seed in the javelin. Teammate Jake VanArsdale is seeded second in the 110 high hurdles and earned a spot in the 300 intermediate hurdles, as well.
Southmoreland’s JJ Bloom (100, 200), Isaac Trout (long jump, triple jump), and Gracie Spadaro (shot put, javelin) will also be competing.
West Greene qualified Brooke Barner (200, 400) and Colin Brady (100, 200) in the Class AA sprints. Barner finished sixth in the 400 two years ago.
Yough’s Hunter Bakewell won Class AA bronze in the javelin in 2019, and enters as the No. 3 seed.
Albert Gallatin’s Emily Sanders looks to improve her 11th-place finish in the Class AAA 300 intermediate hurdles in 2019. She also qualified in the 100.
Belle Vernon senior Grace Henderson just missed the Class AAA awards stand in the high jump two years ago, and will have three chances to medal in her final WPIAL meet after qualifying in the 800, 1,600 and high jump.
Teammate Dane Anden placed eighth in the Class AAA high jump in 2019 and returns with the expectation to better his finish.
Devin Whitlock (100), Hunter Meade (400), Tyler Kovatch (javelin), the girls 3,200 and 1,600 relays, Francesca Scaramucci (high jump, triple jump, long jump), Gianna Anderson (triple jump), and Emily Sokol (javelin) will also be competing for Belle Vernon in the district final.
Uniontown’s Sam Jubin returns for one last shot at a Class AAA medal in the high jump after finishing tied for ninth place in 2019. The Red Raiders’ 3,200 relay and Hope Trimmer (1,600) also qualified.
Ringgold freshman Ryan Pajak posted the third-fastest time in Class AAA in the 3,200. The Rams’ Ben Daerr (800) and Lucas Pajak (3,20), along with the Lady Rams’ Angelina Massey (200, triple jump) and 400 and 1,600 relays also qualified.
Elizabeth Forward’s Andrew Smith placed 11th in the 800 in Class AA two years ago, but the senior will be competing in Class AAA this year. Teammate Robbie Hrabosky is one of the top seeds in both the 110 high and 300 intermediate hurdles.
The boys 400 and 1,600 relays, Ethan Bowser (400), and Paige Myers (triple jump) will also be competing for Elizabeth Forward.
Mount Pleasant qualified Cassidy Cole (100 high hurdles), the girls 3,200 relay, Tiffany Zelmore (shot put, discus), Kennedy Rogers (shot put, discus), Nicole Shinsky (discus), Olivia Stone (javelin), Joe Barrick (3,200), Robbie Labuda (high jump), and the boys 3,200 and 400 relays.
California’s Gianna Grillo (100 high hurdles), Anastasia Georgagis (1,600, 3200), Tayla Pascoe (300 intermediate hurdles), Jordyn Cruse (javelin), Kolby Kent (800, 3,200), Seth Rerricha (pole vault), and Tanner Pierce (shot put) all qualified for the WPIAL Class AA championship.
Albert Gallatin has a solid contingent in the Class AAA meet, including DJ Thomas (shot put), Elizabeth Murtha (discus), Tylar Frezzell (100), Bruno Fabrycki (long jump), and Quentin Larkin (javelin).
Hunter Kooser was the lone Laurel Highlands boy to qualify for the Class AAA meet, in the high jump. The Fillies have three girls in the championship: Annika Tajc (100 high hurdles), Sterling Scott (400), and Mia Pierce (discus, javelin).
Connellsville’s Zach Bigam dropped nearly 10 seconds in the final week for a berth in the Class AAA 1,600, while Dylan Marchewka earned his berth into the long jump at the last chance meet. Nathan Reese (shot put) and Isabella Roebuck (discus) also qualified for the Falcons.
Kendall Shaporka is Frazier’s lone representative after she qualified in the Class AA 400. Beth-Center has two athletes entered in the Class AA meet, Ella Boothe in the 400 and Jacob Sinclair in 1600.
Monessen’s Venchy Michel earned a spot in the Class AA long jump and triple jump, while Bentworth’s Meghan Tennant qualified the Class AA discus and javelin.
Yough’s Levi Gebadlo (1,600) and Nick Gunther (discus) also earned a berth into the district final. Greensburg Central Catholic’s Ella Zambruno qualified for the Class AA 100 and 200.