Belle Vernon’s Ezra Johnson extended her final season of track & field by a week and did so by winning bronze in the discus Thursday afternoon at the WPIAL Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Johnson’s bronze medal-winning throw was 123-4.
She joins teammates Hunter Martin, Casey Weightman, Hannah Seitzinger and Ryan Marek in the PIAA Championships to be held Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium on Friday and Saturday.
ALSO ON THE MEDAL STAND: Elizabeth Forward senior Hannah Hughes earned a return to the Class AAA state meet after placing fifth in the shot put with a throw of 38-4.
“It’s my PR of the season,” said Hughes, who was 10th last year. “(Hitting the state distance) in the prelims took a lot of pressure off, but I strove to get better.”
“I had a different mental frame. We got a new coach this year and it put a lot of stress on me. Plus, I have a job,” explained Hughes. “I was nervous. I didn’t think I’d get a state distance.
“My goal is to place in states.”
Teammate Dejuanna Gile was sixth in the high jump, clearing 5-3, meeting the state qualifying standard to advance to the state meet.
Waynesburg Central’s Madison Brooks closed her career with an eighth-place finish in the Class AA discus with a throw of 112-4.
West Greene freshman Brooke Barner finished sixth in the Class AA 400 with a time of 1:00.75 and California’s Bre Trusler was close behind in eighth place in 1:02.04.
Connellsville senior Rachael Grimm placed eighth in the Class AAA 400 with a time of 1:00.75.
Elizabeth Forward’s 3,200 relay just missed qualifying for the state meet in Class AAA with Hannah Hebda, Sophia Lee-Hauser, Bailey McLaughlin and Corrine Lee-Hauser placing fifth in 10:22.29.
Beth-Center’s Sydney Urbine finished seventh in the Class AA 800 in 2:22.34. Brownsville’s Jamilah Copeland finished sixth in the Class AA 200 in 26.57 seconds.
EXCITING NEWS: Brownsville coach Jim Barak found out before the close of the meet that Copeland, a junior, would be running in the PIAA Championships when one of the top-five finishers withdrew from the state meet.
Barner will also compete in the Class AA state meet after a top-5 finisher opted out of the 400. Barner just missed qualifying for the WPIAL finals in the 200 by a mere .01 seconds after placing ninth in 26.61 seconds.
SO CLOSE: Brownsville’s Aniya Tarpley won silver in the Class AA triple jump, but was just that close to winning gold.
Tarpley had the longest jump of the preliminary round, 35-9, on her first attempt, and the distance held through the first two rounds of the final.
Brentwood’s Quintasia Streeter entered the final round with a top jump of 34-7, but launched a gold medal-winning effort of 35-9¼ on her final attempt to edge Tarpley by ¼-inch.
Waynesburg Central senior Daniel Layton dropped the 300 intermediate hurdles with the hope of helping the Raiders’ 1,600 relay earning a berth into the state meet. The Raiders placed sixth in 3:32.65, falling short Greensburg Central Catholic by .58 seconds for fifth place and the automatic state berth.
Uniontown’s Ahmad Hooper finished ninth in the Class AAA 100 with a time of 11.10 seconds, missing the finals by .01 seconds.
Teammate Isaiah Melvin won medals in the high jump (bronze) and 300 intermediate hurdles (silver), and advanced to the state meet in both, but missed a third medal after finishing ninth in the 110 high hurdles.
Melvin missed a high hurdles medal by .21 seconds after the senior finished in a time of 15.52 seconds.
Belle Vernon’s Isaac Evans placed 10th in the Class AAA 800-meter run with a time of 1:58.67. He fell short of a medal by .30 seconds.
Southmoreland’s Mercedes Smartnick, Burgettstown’s Madeline Newark, and Waynesburg Central’s Bree Echegaray all cleared 4-10 in the Class AA high jump, but Newark and Echegaray did so with fewer misses to earn automatic berths into the state meet after tying for fifth.
Smartnick slid to seventh.
California senior Charles Roberts was positioned to qualify for PIAA Cross Country Championships last fall when he encountered physical issues in the final 250 meters in the WPIAL final and fell out of contention for a berth.
Roberts was tantalizingly close to ending his distinguished career with a trip to the PIAA Track & Field Championships, but his sixth-place finish in 4:34.93 was .38 seconds shy of automatically qualifying for the state meet.
Beth-Center’s Michael Berdar, Keystone Oaks’ Charles Morrow and Riverside’s Nathan Sciarro all cleared 5-11 in the Class AA high jump, but Morrow won the jump-off for fifth place and the berth into the state meet.
Elizabeth Forward’s Robert Hrabosky finished sixth in the Class AA 300 intermediate hurdles. His time of 41.69 seconds was shy of an automatic berth into the state meet by .35 seconds.
SO CLOSE, PART TWO: Waynesburg Central’s Caleb Blair earned a berth into the state meet by the slimmest of margins. The senior earned an automatic berth after placing fifth in the Class AA 400 meters with a time of 51.66 seconds, a mere .01 seconds ahead of Beaver Falls’ Quadir Thomas.
WINNING IN CONVINCING FASHION: Elizabeth Forward senior Bri Spirnak successfully defended her Class AAA gold medal in the javelin, and did so in convincing style with her winning throw of 141-3. Belle Vernon’s Weightman won the silver medal with a throw of 129-3.
Brownsville’s Gionna Quarzo was surprised when she starting lapping girls in the fourth lap of the eight-lap race, but the speed paid off with the junior repeating her Class AA gold medal in the 3,200 in a WPIAL record time of 10:34.35. The junior crossed the finish line 63 seconds ahead of Shenango’s Carmen Medvit.
Quarzo also won the silver medal in the 1,600, but opted out of the race at the state meet to focus on the 3,200.
Waynesburg Central senior Daniel Layton’s journey to the WPIAL Class AA 110 high hurdles final was well chronicled, but he showed why he deserved to run when he won the gold medal in 14.58 seconds. Layton’s winning time was .56 seconds ahead of Brentwood’s John Milcic.
PERSONAL BEST: Connellsville’s Dominic Prestipino didn’t make the Class AAA medals stand in the 800, but was still pleased with his run in the district final because he finally cracked two minutes in the two-lap race. Prestipino finished 13th overall in a time of 1:59.54.