When Patrick Anderson finished as runner-up in the WPIAL during the cross country season, he used that showing as motivation.
The Mt. Lebanon junior went on to win the PIAA state title last fall.
After his performance at the Penn Relays, Anderson is adopting the same approach to the upcoming track and field championships.
The individual district championships are set for May 16 at Slippery Rock University and the PIAA finals are scheduled for May 24-25 in Shippensburg.
Invited to participate in the oldest and most prestigious track and field event in the nation, Anderson finished seventh in the high school boys’ mile run championships. He clocked a 4:20.83, just off the winning pace of 4:18.22 set by Foster Malleck of St. Mary’s in Kitchener, Ontario.
“Being (at the Penn Relays) was an accomplishment,” Anderson said, “but I was pretty disappointed in my performance. I’m definitely going to use this as fuel for the rest of the season. I’m going to work hard and come back better from this experience.”
While it was exciting for Anderson to run at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, the thrill was tamped down by miserable conditions. Anderson weathered several delays because of lightning and thunderstorms. Plus, his race was held during a torrential downpour.
“It was definitely pretty exciting going there and it was quite the experience for sure to race in that stadium but it did not go as well as I was hoping,” he said. “The weather was not good and because of that they were running behind schedule.
“As for the race itself, I was disappointed with that because my times were slow,” added Anderson, who has run a best time of 4:17 this spring, three seconds off his pace at the Penn Relays. “Also, I hung back in the pack too long. So that’s the thing I would change regarding my race strategy.”
After his event, Anderson had an opportunity to relax and take in the other races. He noted the following day, a sunny and warm Saturday, the stadium was packed with 50,000 fans.
“On Friday when I ran, it was not as energetic,” Anderson noted. “Watching the races on Saturday was amazing. The atmosphere was awesome and running on that track in front of a crowd like that would definitely be amazing.”
When Anderson competes in the WPIAL 1,600- or the 3,200- meter runs, he dominates.
After setting a personal-record of 4:17.64 during the indoor season, Anderson captured the Tri-State Track Coaches Association championships April 13 when he clocked an outdoor-best time of 4:18.03 in the 1,600-meter run. He also won the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:38.51.
“It’s awesome to see Patrick compete,” said Doug Petrick, who coordinates Upper St. Clair’s boys and girls cross country teams and the Panthers track and field program. “He is a phenomenal athlete.”
Petrick noted Anderson’s appearance in the Penn Relays, which have been run since April 21, 1895, is great for the runner, Mt. Lebanon, the South Hills and the WPIAL.
“Patrick has had a fantastic junior year beginning with cross country through indoor and now spring. I can’t wait to see what he does in the district and state championship meets.”
Last year, Anderson was the runner-up in the 1,600-meter run at the WPIAL championships. He then placed sixth in the event at the 2018 PIAA championships.
This spring, the Pennsylvania Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year has helped the Blue Devils advance to the WPIAL Class AAA team track and field championships to be held at 4 p.m. May 6 at Peters Township. The Blue Devils will battle North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and Hempfield for the title.
“The WPIAL championships are pretty important,” Anderson said. “We have all worked hard to get to this point and we have pushed each other so I don’t want to let the team down. We’ve won section title before and that seems to be Lebo’s thing but we really want to win a WPIAL team championship.”
After capturing an undefeated section title, the Lebo boys hosted a semifinal meet and posted wins against Central Catholic, 110-40, Norwin, 79-71, and Connersville, 105-45, to advance to the team finals.
After they, too, won a section title, the Lebo ladies, however, did not fare as well.
The Blue Devils failed to advance to the girls team championships, falling in the semifinals to Norwin. North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and Butler were the other teams to move on to the girls finals, also set for May 6 at Peters Township.