Molly Mangan seized the moment during the 46th annual Baldwin Invitational and shattered a school record. The Mt. Lebanon senior clocked a 55.78 in winning the 400-meter race.

“We wanted to give her an opportunity to break the record, but the trouble was that event comes right before two events that she excels in and we count on her the most at meets,” said Mt. Lebanon track and field coach Oscar Shutt of the race order that has the 400-meter dash preceding the 4x100-meter relay and 300-meter intermediate hurdles.

Shutt was grateful meet director Ed Helbig allowed Mangan to compete in the afternoon session of the 400-meter dash.

“I would like to thank Coach Helbig,” Shutt said. “He made these three events possible for Molly and she made it count by breaking our school record by over a second and winning the race.”

The 400 wasn’t the only event Mangan dominated.

She finished first in her premier event, the hurdles, capturing the gold medal in 44.32. South Fayette’s Amy Allen followed in second place and Upper St. Clair’s Ashleigh Conn was eighth.

She also anchored the relay team of Patrice Smith, Flynn Begor and Jane Chavez to victory in 49.25 time.

Mangan was not the only Lebo standout at the invitational. Smith and Begor excelled individually as did Matisse Gelblum, Aoife-Ruby Dunne and Alison Hodgson.

Smith took silver and Gelblum the bronze in the long jump. She also made the most of her opportunity in the 100-meter dash, finishing fourth in 12.59, a scant .34 off the winning pace set by South Park’s Maddie Raymond.

Begor had a solid showing in placing second in the high hurdles. Her time of 15.03 was runner-up to Oakland Catholic’s Jayla Ellis (14.56).

In the 800-meter run, Dunner finished with her second best time, posting a 2:18.13 and taking the bronze medal.

In the McKinney Mile, Hodgson secured sixth place. According to Shutt it was a “solid showing” for a sophomore experiencing the event for the first time.

For the Lebo girls team and most other performers, the Baldwin Invitational is the final preparation for the WPIAL individual championships, which are set for May 16 at Slippery Rock University. The events begin at 11 a.m.

The meet also left Shutt with many options for the district finals.

“We are now at the point that we need to determine what events each of the athletes will focus on heading into the WPIAL meet since several athletes are qualified in multiple events and are members of the relay teams,” he said.

Upper St. Clai

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While Upper St. Clair participated in the Baldwin Invitational, the Panthers will use the Last Chance Meet, held at West Mifflin, to tune up for the WPIAL championships. When the meet concludes, the Panthers and the rest of the district competitors will see how the event’s top 24 shakes out as it is the number of entries that advance to the Class AAA competition.

“We always have a fun day at the Baldwin Invite and Coach Helbig is a fantastic meet director and is always looking to do what’s best for the athletes,” said USC head coach Doug Petrick. “It’s a well run meet with a lot of history and the best in AAA and AA always show up ready to compete.”

“Everyone focused on competing and chasing personal bests and we had a lot of those and medal winners,” he added

Claire Hoffman and Ashleigh Conn were triple medal winners for the Panthers. They both led the relays to medals. Individually, Hoffman was sixth in the 800-meter run and Conn took eighth in the intermediate hurdles.

“They had awesome days,” Petrick said. “It’s fantastic to see those two perform at a high level during a long day, really a testament to their patience and ability to zone in and focus when it’s race time.”

Isaac Kane and Alex Shaw were equally focused. Kane took the bronze in the 400-meter dash while Shaw placed eighth in the McKinney Mile.

USC’s medal-winning relays included:

n 4th–girls 4x100-meter relay team of Ashleigh Conn, Anne Ferry, Cara Marsh and MacKenzie Veglia

n 5th–boys 4x400-meter relay team of CJ Hess, Alex Shaw, Zach Ioli and Justin Straight

n 6th–boys 4x100-meter relay team of Holden Ford, Cary Young, Justin Straight and Isaac Kane

n 7th–girls 4x400-meter relay team of Conn, Claire Hoffman, Marsh, and Ferry

n 7th–girls 4x800-meter relay team of Sophia Shi, Steph Grunwald, Vianna Shiry and Hoffman

n 7th–boys 4x800-meter relay team of Ethan Mann, Tommy O’Brien, Kasey Turner and Hess

“We were very pleased with our crew at Baldwin,” Petrick said. “They are really independent athletes that enjoy competing at a high level. This type of maturity bodes well as we continue on the road to the WPIAL individual championships. It’s at a new venue this year but the good news is that 400 meters is 400 meters no matter where it’s placed.”

Team finals

Hempfield won the WPIAL Class AAA boys team championship with 79-71 victories against North Allegheny and Seneca Valley as well as 87-63 against Mt. Lebanon.

Although Lebo dominated the distance and jumping events with Patrick Anderson and Mason Ventrone, the Blue Devils, Tigers and Raiders were no match for the Spartans, who clinched the title with a win in the pole vault.

Lebo advanced to the finals defeating Central Catholic, 110-40, Norwin, 79-71, and Connellsville, 105-45, in one of four semifinal sectionals. The Blue Devils were undefeated Section 6-AAA champions during the regular season.

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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