WHS girls bring home six PIAA medals

By on May 30, 2018
Ecstatic about winning a State medal in a PR time of 9:18.78, Warwick senior Deirdre White (right) embraces teammate Emily Williamson after the Lady Warriors’ 4x800 placed seventh last Saturday. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Ecstatic about winning a State medal in a PR time of 9:18.78, Warwick senior Deirdre White (right) embraces teammate Emily Williamson after the Lady Warriors’ 4×800 placed seventh last Saturday. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Lady Warriors’ 4×400 leads way with bronze medal

On the eve of the State Track and Field Championships, Warwick’s athletes had the perfect remedy to relieve their nervousness.

It was the first annual Warwick Mini-Golf State Championship Showdown, won by the team of junior Leah Graybill and head coach Alex Daecher.

“It was a super competitive game, let me tell ya,” junior Emily Williamson laughed. “We’re not just competitive on the track.”

Two long, hot days later at Shippensburg University, that competitive fire was still burning bright.

In fact, in the final event from a wildly successfully season for the Section One, L-L League, and District Three Triple-A champion Lady Warriors, the 4×400 foursome of Graybill, Cassidy Kline, Meghan Quinn, and Williamson took home the bronze medal in a time of 3:50.98.

It was just 41-hundredths of a second off their school-record time of 3:50.57 in the trials on Friday.

“We’re happy with our time and how we stayed consistent throughout the race,” Kline said.

“It just means bigger and better things coming in the future, for sure,” Williamson added.

As it was, the Warwick girls had a big weekend while bringing home six PIAA medals. Graybill was 4th in the 200 (24.70) and 8th in the 100 (12.38), Lily Palacio-Lewis took 5th in the 100 (12.35), Kate Dickow ran to a 7th-place finish in the 3200 in 10:54.83 and the 4×800 team consisting of Deirdre White, Caitlyn Wagner, Williamson, and Kline placed 7th in 9:18.78.

In the end, the Lady Warriors tied for 8th in the overall team standings with Berwick and Abington Heights, all with 20 points.

“This whole meet has been such a good experience for us,” Quinn said, “and I think we can go home saying we had a super successful season.”

The 4×400, of course, was a big part of that, and they started their weekend Friday by shattering the previous school record of 3:53.11. Graybill, Kline, Quinn and Williamson also shaved nearly four seconds off their seed time (3:54.04) with their finish of 3:50.57 in the trials.

They had a new wrinkle from the District Meet, as Quinn got the call to run the opening leg of the relay again on Saturday.

“Whatever the order is, I think we run great,” she said. “(We improved) four seconds, so everyone is PRing together and it’s amazing.”

Graybill, who is normally the anchor, was running her 10th race in two days, so she went to the second leg, and Kline took the fourth.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to be feeling after 10 races this weekend, and I felt so confident with (Cassidy) anchoring,” Graybill said. “I knew she was going to do amazing and she did. We all did amazing.”

Getting out of the gates with a strong start, Kline was able to maintain her pace and nearly overtook Penn Wood for second place. The Lady Patriots held on for the silver by an eyelash in 3:50.84.

“It’s such a great, fun race to run with all these ladies,” Kline said, “we just all pulled through and ran the hardest we could. I thought I took it out fast. I wasn’t sure if I’d to be able to hold up all the way through.”

The Warwick girls credited their coaching staff — led by head coach Alex Daecher and including assistants Matt Bomberger, Joe Hallowell, Bob Rhoads, and Dan Shelly — not only for their training, but also for the support they received from them.

“I wouldn’t trade our coaching staff for anything,” Williamson said.

“They have lives of their own, they all have kids, so for them to come out every single day to practice with us, no matter what it is, and really just be there for us, it’s something pretty special,” Quinn said.

Speaking of special, Graybill stepped up with a huge effort to bring home a fourth-place medal in the 200 in 24.70 seconds.

Not long before that, the junior sprinter was part of the 4×100 relay which suffered disappointment when the baton was dropped on an exchange, resulting in them being disqualified. One day earlier, Juliette Delmotte, Graybill, Palacio-Lewis, and Quinn ran the second-fastest 4×100 time (47.84) in L-L history to punch their ticket to the finals.

But Graybill used her frustration as fuel for the 200 and shattered the school record. improving from her seed time of 24.73. Earlier, she finished in 25.36 in Friday’s prelims and 24.87 in Saturday’s semi-finals.

“The 4×1 is definitely heartbreaking,” Graybill said. “We were all super excited. Out of anything today, that was one I was really looking forward to. What happened is unfortunate and I’m really upset that it happened, but I went into the 2 thinking, ‘This is my race. I’m just going to show everything I have and just forget that anything else ever happened.’ I just wanted to prove myself again after the 4×1.”

Palacio-Lewis and Graybill certainly proved themselves in the 100. A mere three-hundredths of a second separated the fifth through eighth-place finishers. By a nose, Palacio (12.35) edged Obama Academy’s Raven Haston (12.35) and Dallastown’s Riyana Owens (12.35) for fifth and Graybill was on their heels in eighth in 12.38.

“I knew coming in, just looking at all the seed times, it was going to be really close,” said Palacio-Lewis, who finished in 12.23 in Friday’s prelim and 12.25 in Saturday’s semi-finals to advance. “I knew there was a chance I could make finals and I knew there was also a chance that I could quickly be kicked out. So I was just trying to focus.”

Graybill posted back-to-back times of 12.11 in her opening two races in the 100 to move on.

“Anything can really happen in the 100, it’s such a fast race and running against such fast girls,” she said. “Everyone’s running really fast this weekend and it’s crazy.”

The State Championships capped a remarkable post-season run in the 100 in which Graybill, Palacio-Lewis, and Quinn took the top three spots at Leagues, then three of the top four places at Districts.

“Even for Meghan to have gotten to States, I’m just so proud of the three of us,” Graybill said. “Like I’ve said multiple times before, we definitely push each other the most on this team and that’s the reason we’re standing here fifth and eighth at States.”

The Warwick girls’ 4×800 foursome of Kline, Wagner, White, and Williamson pushed each other as well, helping them drop eight seconds off their seed time of 9:26.45 to place seventh in a PR time of 9:18.78. Central Bucks West won the gold in 9:13.71.

“I knew we were going to come into this meet and PR, but eight seconds? That’s just extraordinary,” Williamson said. “I’m just so proud of us coming to the State Meet and medaling as a team.”

“The field we’re in is insanely amazing that we ran a 9:18 and we’re seventh,” Wagner said. “You just know that these teams are high-caliber and that’s amazing to run with here. I thought that was pretty cool.”

It all started with White on the opening leg. She found herself boxed in during Friday’s prelims and she went into Saturday’s race determined not to let it happen again.

“I led the race out for this first 100 meters or so, and I was like, ‘Well, these girls are really fast, should I be up here?,’” she said. “But I knew I had to do it that way so that I didn’t get boxed in. I was really happy with my time.”

Later, Williamson got the baton with Warwick in 11th place, but she quickly chased down several runners in front of her and moved up to fourth by the end of her leg.

“Going into that first lap, I just kept thinking, ‘I’m getting closer and closer to each one of these girls,’ and I kept passing one after another,” Williamson recalled. “I said, ‘Well, just keep doing what you’re doing and let’s see where we can get in position for Cassidy.’”

Kline found herself among a pack of runners as they made the final turn, but she was able to hold on to seventh, just behind sixth-place McCaskey (9:18.28) and a second ahead of Butler (9:19.79) in eighth.

“In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I just want to place for our team,’” Kline recalled. “We were talking before the race and we were like, ‘We don’t care if we don’t place. We just want to run and have fun together.’ But running that last stretch and seeing two girls coming both on my sides definitely scared me and made me run faster. And I didn’t know if I could run faster because I was pretty much dead.”

Knowing, however, that it would be their final time running with White, a senior, each of the girls dug deep.

“It’s been very emotional, even before the race,” Kline said. “We were so happy we were able to pull through for the medal.”

Taking home a medal was also the number one goal for Dickow in the 3200. She did so by running a personal-best time of 10:54.83 — roughly a second ahead of her previous PR (10:55) — good for seventh place.

“It’s my first time medaling at the State Meet, so for me, it’s a really big accomplishment,” Dickow said. “That was one of my season goals, so I’m really happy with that.”

At the end of a fast first mile, the Warwick junior was 9th behind North Allegheny’s Clara Savchik and Cedar Crest’s Gwyneth Young. But she closed the gap by the end of the fifth lap and then overtook both for the seventh position on the next oval.

“I could feel the pace was slowing down and usually that’s typical after the first mile,” Dickow said. “So I knew it was time for me to go and pick up the pace again.”

Dickow was still seventh as they entered the home stretch, with Savchik and Young closing ground. But she used a solid kick to clinch the seventh-place hardware. Young was eighth in 10:55.92 and Savchik finished ninth in a time of 11:02.45.

“I knew I had to really finish strong or people would have passed me,” Dickow said. “It wasn’t like, ‘I’m in seventh place, I can slow down.’ It was, ‘I’m in seventh place, I need to go faster.’”

***

On the boys side, senior Brenden Gates and junior Connor Shields competed in the State Championships for the Warriors.

Gates finished in 15.56 seconds in Friday’s 110-Meter High Hurdles, just 3-hundredths of a second behind Jared Bannon (15.53), of Hempfield in District Seven, in his heat for a berth in the semi-finals.

Later, in the 300-Meter Hurdles, Gates finished in 40.62 seconds in his heat and was unable to advance.

Shields, meanwhile, placed eighth in 4:23.31 in the second of two heats in Friday’s 1600-Meter Run prelims, but fell just a little bit short of his goal to reach Saturday’s finals.

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