Molly Mangan may have been out of sync during the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, but the senior harmonized nicely when it came to anchoring Mt. Lebanon’s 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 relays to victory during the WPIAL track and field championships held May 16 at Slippery Rock University.
After helping the Blue Devils set a school record of 48.24 in the 4-by-100, Mangan failed to defend her title in the hurdles because of a simple misstep.
“I stuttered,” she said, “and that’s a hurdler’s worst nightmare. Like kryptonite. You stutter and you are done.”
Though Mangan actually equaled her championship time (43.21) of a year ago, Danielle Bryant, a sophomore from Pine-Richland, won the race in 42.92.
“In practice you can simulate the strides and your steps are perfect,” explained Lebo hurdle coach Aaron Panczyk. “When you have the adrenaline flowing after you just set a school record in the relay and you are amped up, then 24 steps turns into 24-and-a-half. So there is a difference.”
Mangan though proved the difference as she ran the final legs of two relays. She combined with Patrice Smith, Flynn Begor and Jane Chavez for the win in the 4x100. She closed out the meet teaming up with Smith, Alison Hodgson and Aoife-Ruby Dunne for the victory in the 4x400.
“Winning relays is a lot different. More special than winning yourself cause you get to run out there with our friends, your teammates and you all get to share in the victory,” Mangan said. “It’s not just on you. You are part of a bigger picture.”
Yet the focus falls on the final leg and Mangan embraces that weighty responsibility. “It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s good pressure, because I get to be the one crossing the line and I love doing that. My teammates basically set me up and then I go for it.”
Mangan will go for the gold in the PIAA championships, set for May 24-25 at Shippensburg University. While she should be a constant on the relays, she hopes to improve her performance in the hurdles. Last year, she was a state runner-up.
“WPIALs was not my best executed race,” she admitted. “So I am looking forward to bettering my times at state and correct my steps.”
Panczyk promises to help. “We are going to make sure she hits the hurdle in perfect stride,” he said.
In the high hurdles, Begor hit her stride. She secured silver behind Oakland Catholic’s Jayla Ellis and posted a state-qualifying time of 14.36.
In the 100-meter dash, Smith qualified with a 12.41 time. She finished seventh in a race dominated by Avonworth’s Hayden Robinson. Smith earned a bronze in the long jump, while Matisse Gelblum was sixth.
Though she missed the cut in the 100, Jane Madson of Upper St. Clair earned a PIAA berth with third place and a 25.60 time in the 200-meter dash. Robinson also won that event in 25.27.
Additionally, Hodgson and Dunne earned PIAA berths with fifth- and sixth-place showings and times of 2:17.78 and 2:17.91, respectively, in the 800 run. USC’s Claire Hoffman finished fourth with a qualifying time of 2:17.52.
Other area female qualifiers included:
• Amy Allen from South Fayette with third in the intermediate hurdles (45.12).
• Bethel Park’s Sarah Gilliam with sixth in the shot put with a throw of 38-03.25.
• SF’s Hailey Bair finishing fifth in the high jump.
• SF’s 4x800 relay of Emma Fleck, Steffanie Kozak, Hailey Poe and Lauren Iagnemma taking fourth in 9:29.09
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