NEPA Sports Nation

WA’s Keating first to two golds

Pictured above: Montrose’s Chloe Diaz won the 100-meter hurdles Monday. (Tim Drewes Photo)

By Tom Robinson,

SCRANTON – In many ways, the District 2 Track and Field Championships were just getting started Monday.

Just one-third of the events were completed in Class 3A and a little more than that in Class 2A.

But, Wyoming Area’s Madelyn Keating is already well on her way to another big meet in the Mississippi State-bound distance runner’s final appearance at Memorial Stadium.

Keating emerged from Monday’s action as the only athlete with two gold medals.

There was nothing stopping her – not Wyoming Area’s jump up from Class 2A to 3A this season, not a 3¼-second deficit when she received the baton in the 3200-meter relay and certainly not the presence of two other district cross country champions in the 3200-meter run.

Keating won the 3200 in 11:00.44, a fast enough pace to beat Dallas sophomore Madison Hedglin by 3.35 seconds while Hedglin was still running more than seven seconds faster than necessary to meet the state meet Class 3A qualifying standard, which is not an easy task in any event.

The showdown between the last two District 2 Class 2A cross country champions took place a week late after Hedglin, the top seed, missed last week’s Wyoming Valley Conference Championships.

“I knew she was sick so I just took last week as more of finding what pace feels comfortable for me,” said Keating, who will race again in the 800- and 1600-meter runs Tuesday.

Keating, Hedglin and Abington Heights freshman Anna Pucilowski, the reigning district Class 3A cross country champ, separated themselves from the pack early, running in that order for the first six laps.

While they looked strong, Keating was right at the qualifying pace and the other two were just off of it at the midway point.

As it turned out, Keating and Hedglin were just getting started. Keating was nine seconds faster over the second half of the race whle Hedglin was seven.

“I knew I was just slightly off coming through the mile, but the plan with my coach before the race was just take the first mile controlled,” Keating said, “but since the second mile is always the hardest one in longer distance races, I had to focus in on really closing on laps 6 and 7 to really gap away from the field.”

The two leaders were stronger in Lap 7 and at their strongest in Lap 8.

Lap 7 turned out to be faster for Keating and Hedglin than the previous five laps. The eighth and final lap was easily the fastest for each as Keating closed in 1:13.1 and Hedglin in 1:14.4. Third-place finisher Emily Franklin from North Pocono was the only other runner under 1:20 over the final 400 meters.

“I knew that I had a good shot,” Hedglin said, “especially running with Madelyn. She was going to push me.”

Ella McKernan and Keating did the chasing in the 3200 relay, the first medal event in the two-day meet format.

Hannah Stoss gave Wyoming Area the early lead and Nina Angeli kept the Lady Warriors in contention, handing off the McKernan in third place.

McKernan passed Dallas into second place on her first lap and continued cutting the Abington Heights lead in half in her second lap.

Keating turned in another impressive split – 1:03 on her first lap – as part of her 2:13.46 closing leg to surge into the lead.

Emma Horsley fought back, closing the gap at one point in the last half lap, but Keating had enough to stop that surge coming down the stretch.

When she made it to the line in 9:34.50, Horsley completed another state-qualifying effort by a second-place finisher. The team of Maia Arcangelo, Marygrace Sabatini, Reese Morgan and Emma Horsley also advanced Abington Heights to Shippensburg.

Riverside’s Daniel Danilovitz also won a battle of cross country champions in the Class 2A boys 3200.

Danilovitz joined his sister, Lacey, who won the Class 2A girls race, as 3200 champions by knocking off defending champion Nick Hockenbury in the only Monday event to produce three state qualifiers.

Jack Novelli from Wyoming Seminary, who competes with a handful of athletes from the school in invitationals because the Blue Knights do not have a team during track season, also met the state standard.

Danilovitz and Hockenbury finished each of the first seven laps less than a second apart before the Riverside junior closed in 1:05.2 to finish in 9:36.231 for a nearly two-second victory.

“I just used all of my remaining energy in that last 200 or 300 meters,” Danilovitz said. “I think that was the first time I ever had a kick like that.

“Usually when I try to do it, I don’t have anything left in the tank.”

While Keating was the only double-winner so far, other athletes set themselves up for the potential of multiple wins.

Susquehanna’s Tatum Norris won the Class 2A girls long jump and led qualifying in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the events where she is the defending state champion.

Chloe Diaz from Montrose won the 300 hurdles and led qualifying in the 100 hurdles, also in Class 2A.

Dallas hurdler Sophia Filali did the same in Class 3A.

Wyoming Seminary’s Chief Montalvo, who lost the long jump on a second-jump tiebreaker to Lake-Lehman’s Seth Berry, led Class 2A qualifying in both the 100 and 200.

Tight multi-team races are intact in Class 3A through the first day while two-team races began developing in Class 2A.

Lake-Lehman jumped in front of pre-meet favorite Lakeland, 64½-50, in Class 2A girls behind a first, second and fourth-place tie in the high jump, an event where the Lady Chiefs were expected to score the most points.

“I knew we had three alive so I kept checking in, then I could see them hugging,” Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski said. “I found out our freshman, Kathryn Morgan, finished first and we got a third and fourth.

“That really kind of set the tone.”

There were other positive developments for the Lady Knights, who had at least a top-four finisher in all seven events that were completed.

Sophia Lanza, who led Norris after the preliminary round, and Autumn Palka finished in the top five in the long jump and qualified for the 100-meter final.

“Sophia and Autumn did a nice job,” Sobocinski said. “Our 4×8 (second in 3200 relay) ran its best time of the year.

“A lot of things happened and before you knew it, we had 38 points.”

Mid Valley, the clearest favorite coming in, holds just a 48-44 lead after a strong first day by Riverside in Class 2A boys.

Abington Heights has 30 points in Class 3A boys to lead WVC Championship Meet titlist Hazleton Area with 28½ and Spagna Lackawanna Track Conference Championship Meet winner Valley View with 25.

WVC division champions Dallas and Wyoming Area are 1-2 in Class 3A girls with 33 and 28 points. LTC Division 1 and 2 champions Abington Heights and Wallenpaupack are tied for fourth with 23 points, two behind North Pocono.

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