Megan Malecki of Bethel Park and Dani Prunzik from Upper St. Clair hurdled many obstacles on their way into the winner’s circle for track and field.

A senior, Malecki earned a gold medal in the pole vault while Prunzik, a sophomore, claimed first in the 100-meter dash during the WPIAL Class AAA championships held May 19 at Slippery Rock University.

For starters, both lost last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Malecki, meanwhile, also forfeited her chances because of injuries. She broke her ankle and required surgery her sophomore year. She also tore a quad muscle.

“It’s been a rough four years but I made my dreams happen,” Malecki said. “I am more than thrilled.”

In addition to capturing the pole vault with a mark of 11 feet, 9 inches, Malecki also met her goal of qualifying for the PIAA championships to be held May 28-29 at Shippensburg University.

“I am very excited about going to states,” she said. “I didn’t think that was going to happen.”

Sticking to protocols and safety measures schools negotiated a spring season that continued to be threatened by COVID-19.

Because the disease prevented her from competing as a freshman, Prunzik failed to gain valuable experience that could have calmed her nerves before settling into the blocks for the 100-meter dash.

“I was very nervous,” Prunzik said, “but, honestly, I think nerves bring out the best in me because it pushes me knowing I have more competition and I have to try harder and do my best.”

Prunzik’s best was a personal record. She breezed to victory in 12.33.

“I just ran my race,” she said. “I try not to worry abut anybody except myself and try to get a PR. My original PR was 12.34. So I got a 12.33 which still is a PR. So it was good.”

Prunzik ran a 25.40 in the 200 meters but the time was not good enough to stop Amy Allen. The South Fayette senior won the race in 25.33.

Alaina Koutsogiani from Peters Township followed Allen and Prunzik in sixth place in the 200. She also secured seventh place in the 100. Melanie Schumaker from South Fayette was eighth in the 200.

Though the warm weather conditions did not favor the runners, the gentle breeze shone upon Malecki.

“I liked the weather,” Malecki said of the 84-degree temperature. “We didn’t have any wind. So it was really nice not to have to fight a tornado going over the bar.”

Malecki hopes to have equally cooperative conditions when she closes out her scholastic career at states. She will compete at Millersville College next fall.

While she acknowledges she would like to win the PIAA championships she said that may be a little out of her reach because some in the competition have cleared 12-9. Malecki’s personal best is a school-record of 12 feet, 1 inch, set at the last-chance qualifying meet for WPIALs.

“Top 8 would be good,” Malecki said. “I’m going to states to place.”

The top four finishers at the WPIAL Class AAA championships qualified for the PIAA finals. Those who finished in slots five through eight needed to meet qualifying standards to advance.

The WPIAL awarded medals to the top eight finishers in each race. Among the other top local female finishers were:

  • From Bethel Park: Jenna Lang, second and fifth in the 1,600 and 3,200; Alexa Psotka, fifth in the javelin.
  • From Mt. Lebanon: Matisse Gelblum, second, long jump; Logan St. John Kletter, third and fourth, 1,600 and 3,200; Kathryn Hart, fourth pole vault; and Carolina Adams, fourth and seventh, 1,600 and 3,200.
  • From South Fayette: Grace Howard, eighth, long jump; Melanie Schumaker, fifth, pole vault; Emma Fleck and Baylee Carpenter, third and seventh in the 800 run.
  • From Peters Township: Abby Scott, seventh, pole vault
  • From Upper St. Clair: Claire Hoffman, fourth, 800

Lebo’s 400 and 1,600 relays finished sixth and seventh.

The 4x100 featured Anya Clougherty, Chloe Destain, Kendall Donati and Gelblum. The 4x400 consisted of Isabella Primm, Julianne Gallo, Alison Hodgson and Gelblum

SF’s 3,200 relay unit of Carpenter, Jessica Stabile, Lauren Iagnemma and Fleck earned silver medals.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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