If the Tri-State Track Coaches Association’s Meet serves as a barometer as to teams’ and individuals’ playoff readiness, Mt. Lebanon looks to be a formidable opponent for all challengers in the WPIAL.
The boys and the girls teams are undefeated heading into their final section meet April 23 against Canon-McMillan and Baldwin at home. The Blue Devils are already qualified for the WPIAL team tournament as the top two teams in each division earn a playoff berth. The semifinals are scheduled for April 30. The WPIAL team track and field championships are set for May 6 at Peters Township High School stadium.
The WPIAL individual championships will be held May 16 at Slippery Rock University. The top 24 Class AAA and top 16 Class AA athletes with the best times and distances qualify for the finals.
Based on its showing at Tri-States, Lebo should be well represented, especially the girls, who walked away from West Mifflin with a plethora of medals as well as the runner-up trophy in the team competition.
“This was a good opportunity to measure how we stacked up against teams across the WPIAL,” said Lebo girls’ track coach Oscar Shutt. “The TSTCA meet is a good opportunity to begin focusing on the second half of the season and determining what events individuals will aim for going toward the WPIAL meet.”
Molly Mangan and Flynn Begor will be focused on the hurdles, having qualified for states in the past. Mangan is a state runner-up as well as defending WPIAL champion in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Despite dealing with some injuries this spring, the pair dominated their races at Tri-States. Mangan won her race in 44.77 while Begor won the 100-meter high hurdles in 14.44.
“With rest, therapy and recovery, we felt they were ready to go out and execute the type of races that they’re capable of,” Shutt said. “Coach Aaron Panczyk (hurdles) and Dave Carl (sprints) had them in a great position. We believe their times will continue to go down as they recover some of the fitness and technique they missed while managing their injuries.”
The pair showed no evidence of lingering injuries as they combined with Patrice Smith and Jane Chavez for victory in the 4x100-meter relay. A junior, Smith set the pace on the lead leg and Mangan anchored.
“This group of three seniors and a junior have the chemistry from the past few years to have a great season and the drive to get back to the PIAA meet after just missing a state medal last year,” Shutt said.
Mangan again anchored the 4x400-meter relay to victory.
In addition to Smith, the unit also included Alison Hodgson and Aoife-Ruby Dunne. The group finished the race in 3:58.52. According to PennTrack, that finish ranks No. 2 in the state.
“They had an excellent day,” Shutt said of the relay. “Patrice put the team in the lead on the opening leg and Alison and Aoife maintained it then Molly finished the race, winning by about three seconds.”
Less than three inches separated Smith from another gold medal.
In the long jump, she laped 17 feet, 9 inches but settled for second place as Oakland Catholic’s Jayla Ellis posted a winning mark of 18 feet, 10.75 inches.
“Patrice has a great day,” Shutt said. “She is a very talented individual. We have a difficult time deciding what events to enter her in because she is so gifted in so many ways.”
During a busy weekend, senior Kelly Donis set a personal record with a seventh place finish in the 300 hurdles. She also helped organize the school’s mini dance marathon that raised money for pediatric cancer.
Dunne finished in second in the 800-meter run, Miheala Toader secured seventh in the triple jump and Jessie Wolf was sixth in the high jump after a ninth-place showing in the triple jump.
Additionally, Lebo’s 4x800-meter relay team of junior Emma Stanton, sophomore Isabella Primm, junior Pfeifer Hill and freshman Lauren Ghil finished in fifth place.
All of those girls “made great contributions,” Shutt said.
Anderson wins twice
Patrick Anderson was the biggest contributor for the Lebo boys. The junior dominated the distance races, winning the 1,600 in 4:18.03 and the 3,200 in 9:38.51.
Mason Ventrone won the silver medal in the long jump and Seth Morgan won the bronze in the high jump. Fifth-place finishes by Lawrence Wincshel (pole vault), Tim Walters (300 hurdles) and Duncan LaDuke (800 run) highlighted the rest of the Blue Devils’ top efforts.