District Three champs!

By on May 22, 2018

Golds in three relays lead Warwick girls to the team title

The Warwick girls’ 4x100 relay, including (left to right) Cassidy Kline, Leah Graybill, Emily Williamson and Meghan Quinn, are shown atop the District Three podium after receiving their gold medals last Saturday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

The Warwick girls’ 4×100 relay, including (left to right) Cassidy Kline, Leah Graybill, Emily Williamson and Meghan Quinn, are shown atop the District Three podium after receiving their gold medals last Saturday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

The anchor leg’s job wasn’t done when they crossed the finish line in a relay last Saturday.

Due to rainy, cold conditions which gripped the District Three Triple-A Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, runners wore their sweats to the starting line — looking to stay warm for as long as possible — and the anchor then collected them at race’s end.

At the completion of the 4×800 relay, when a PIAA official reminded Cassidy Kline, the Warwick sophomore responded that she’d already done it.

It was that kind of day for the Lady Warriors.

They were always one step ahead of everybody.

Boosted by winning golds in all three relays, the Warwick girls took home the District team crown, amassing 73 total points to easily pull away from runner-up Central Dauphin (36). It was Warwick’s first District team title in any sport since 2009 —when the WHS girls cross country team climbed to the summit. The last District track championship for the Lady Warriors was another seven years back, in 2002.

“It’s huge,” Warwick coach Alex Daecher said. “I mean, a District championship … that’s what you shoot for in every sport and it’s just a huge goal. The girls had the goal from the start. It was a stepping stone last year at the L-L, and then this was the next step and they got it done. Winning all three relays, that’s ridiculous.”

That, in fact, was the strategy. Junior sprinter Leah Graybill had qualified for Districts in five events and was the top seed in the 400. But she opted out of the 400 to run the anchor leg on the 4×400, teaming with Emily Williamson, Kline, and Meghan Quinn to win gold in 3:54.04.

“You start talking about selflessness again,” Daecher said. “I mean, as much as they wanted to get medals and gold medals, I think having a District championship as a team was very important.”

Earlier, Deirdre White, Caitlyn Wagner, Williamson and Kline joined forces to claim gold in the 4×800 in 9:26.45, and then the foursome of Graybill, Lily Palacio-Lewis, Quinn, and Juliette Delmotte took the 4×100 relay in 48.65 seconds.

“I don’t know if that’s ever really been done before, winning all three relays, so that’s definitely a big accomplishment,” Williamson said, “especially being at Districts right now.”

Individually, Graybill and Palacio-Lewis each added a silver and bronze in the sprints to help lead the Lady Warriors’ medal haul, Kline stepped up with a second in the 300 Hurdles and Kate Dickow chipped in with a seventh-place finish in Friday’s 3,200 in 10:55.12.

But it was the 4×800 relay, following a one-hour delay, which got Warwick started on the right foot. A week earlier, the WHS girls took silver at the L-L Meet, close behind McCaskey.

“I give a lot of credit to the 4×8,” Daecher remarked. “I think coming in and winning was like, ‘OK, we can do this now,’ and I think that was a huge way to start the day.”

White, Wagner, and Williamson all ran solid splits on the opening three legs and then Kline overtook McCaskey’s anchor with about 200 meters left and held on down the stretch. Warwick’s time of 9:26.45 was less than two seconds ahead of the Red Tornado (9:28.13).

“I was thinking, ‘This is going to have to be a lot faster than what I usually run,’” Kline recalled. “I did make (the opening lap) faster than normal, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep it up for the second lap, but it turned out pretty well.”

Indeed it did, as the Lady Warriors shaved nearly five seconds off their seed time of 9:31.11.

“It’s definitely a PR,” White said, “so when we heard it, we were like, ‘That’s so great.’ Warwick loves the rain because we’re mentally tough, so when everybody else is not mentally here, we’re like, ‘It’s the same as any other day.’ We were ready to run and we did what we needed to do.”

“We were ready to go before they called the hour delay,” Wagner said.

They were ready to go in the 100 as well, placing three girls in the top four, led by Palacio-Lewis’ silver-medal finish in a PR of 12.03 seconds, not far behind Dallastown’s Riyana Owens (12.00). Graybill (12.11) and Quinn (12.47) took third and fourth place, respectively.

“(Friday) in the semi-finals, my blocks weren’t as powerful as normal and I PR’d,” Palacio-Lewis said, “and I knew if I could just get my blocks more powerful than what they were (Friday), I could really drop my time. I’m just really excited.”

Graybill, who entered Districts as the top seed in 12.02 seconds, admitted that her start was a bit off.

“For the most part, I did everything as I normally do,” she said. “My drive phases were a little bit shorter than it normally is, so I think that kinda affected me toward the end. But overall, I’m happy. We’re standing here second, third and fourth at Districts — that’s pretty amazing.”

Right behind Graybill, not much separated Quinn from East Pennsboro’s Cece Insalaco (12.49) and Harrisburg’s Jada Thompson (12.49).

“The race was really exciting,” Quinn smiled. “I wasn’t expecting fourth place at all. I felt like I was tied with with at least four other girls. But sometimes, you’re just leaning over that line really well. Overall, I’m really happy that we got second, third and fourth.”

Daecher added, “The talent is just so high. When you go 2-3-4 in a District meet in such a huge area with such huge schools, it makes it a lot easier putting a 4×1 together.”

Without much time to rest, Graybill, Quinn and Palacio-Lewis were, in fact, back together for the 4×1, along with Delmotte on the anchor.

Sure enough, by the time Delmotte got the baton, Warwick had the lead over second-place Wilson, and the rest was history. The Lady Warriors’ winning time of 48.65 seconds was 31-hundredths of a second ahead of Wilson (48.96).

“I was just focused on getting out really quickly and driving through the whole 100, because I’m technically the slowest on this team and I’m racing against the fastest girls on their teams,” said Delmotte, who also placed ninth in the triple jump with a distance of 35-9. “It’s kinda nerve-wracking sometimes, so I just tried to push the whole way and come through for these girls.”

Being seeded number one in the relay carried some pressure for Warwick’s foursome.

“We were really nervous before the race,” Palacio-Lewis said, “but we were trying to calm each other down, like, ‘We’ve done this a thousand times. We’re going to make it around.’ So it was just exciting once we finished.”

“We want all three relays to just do their best,” Graybill said, “and I think we’re on our way.”

Kline certainly did her best in the 300 Hurdles, shaving time off her No. 4-seed time of 45.0 to win the silver in a PR of 44.63 seconds.

“Mostly not stutter-stepping on the hurdles (was key) because I’ve had trouble with that recently,” Kline said. “But coach Rhoads has been working with me a lot to not get those stutter-steps and to make quick steps instead. So that helped me get through that.”

From there, Warwick had two more place-finishers in the 200, with Graybill winning silver in 24.73 seconds and Palacio-Lewis taking the bronze medal in a time of 24.77 seconds.

Dallastown’s Owens (24.64) edged Graybill for the gold medal.

“I was just focused on what was ahead of me and wasn’t really concerned about where everybody else was around me,” Graybill recalled.

Palacio-Lewis, meanwhile, dropped her time by 35-hundredths of a second from her finish at the L-L Meet the previous week.

“I really was happy because I think it takes me awhile in the season to start peaking,” she said, “and I feel like it’s finally starting to all come together. Just from last week, running a 25 and this week being able to run a 24, it’s really exciting to be able to do that. I’m really excited for (States) and seeing how that ends up.”

Things definitely came together for the 4×400 relay as well to close out the meet, finishing in 3:54.04 to beat out silver-medalist Susquehanna Township (3:55.88).

Kline overtook a pack of runners on the second leg before handing the baton off to Quinn, who passed a Lady Indian runner with 200 meters left on her lap.

“Like I said at Leagues, getting that lead is easier than keeping it,” Quinn remarked. “I could hear them the whole time behind me breathing down my back. I was just hoping I could finish this 400 as strong as I could after a long weekend. I think it really motivated us that every single leg, we always had someone on us.”

Graybill knew she didn’t have much margin for error when she took the baton for the final leg.

“When Meghan was coming down the home stretch, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re right on top of her,’” Graybill recalled. “So I was super scared getting baton and I ran the entire race terrified, because like I said before, we wanted to win all three relays, so I knew that I couldn’t let them down. I just ran for my life.”

And in the end, Graybill and her teammates got a lifetime memory with the District team crown.

“Exeter was our biggest competition,” Daecher said, “and after (Friday) night, they had done very, very well and we were starting to sweat a little bit. We were kinda like, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen to us and the best thing that could happen to them?’ And the thing is, (Saturday) it was just coming out all Warwick.”

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