KANE — The Tri-County Area enjoyed a stellar day Wednesday at the District 9 Class AAA Girls Track and Field Championships at Kane High School.
DuBois and St. Marys each won five events — tied for the most on the day — with the Lady Beavers using their depth to win their second straight team title. The crown also is DuBois’ eighth in nine years, with only Bradford (2014) putting a small hiccup in the Lady Beavers’ D-9 dominance.
DuBois’ team-title run was led by its abundance of talent that saw the Lady Beavers place (Top 5) two or more girls in 10 of 15 individual events en route to scoring 119 points. DuBois had two athletes place in three events.
“What a great overall performance from these young ladies,” said Lady Beavers coach Scott Sullivan. “My coaching staff and I could not be prouder. Very rarely do you have so many season best performances at the district championships.
“I would like to thank (my coaches) Justin (Marshall), Rosary (Pennington) and Brad (Sweet) for their countless hours of hard work and dedication to our program. This past decade has been an incredible ride and winning never gets old when you put your heart and soul into something.
“Our girls, both past and present should be proud of the legacy they have created.”
The Lady Beavers weren’t the only ones who put their talent on display Wednesday though, as St. Marys matched DuBois in wins and also had multiple athletes place in five events.
The Lady Dutch’s strong showing saw then end in a tie with Bradford in the team standings with 82 points. Bradford won four events on the day. Punxsutawney (69) and Clearfield (21) finished fourth and fifth in the team, with all five schools winning at least one.
No one had a bigger day than DuBois senior Dayna DeSalve, who collected three wins and a runner-up finish to join the long list of past Lady Beaver standouts to win the James Manners Award as the meet MVP.
DeSalve put together another strong day in her jumping events, winning both the long (16-5 3/4) and triple (34-1) triples. She also teamed up with younger sister Chelsea DeSalve, Brooke Leithner and Reese Sayers to win the 4x100 relay in 51.54. It marked the ninth straight year the Lady Beavers have won the event.
DeSalve added a second-place finish in the 100 dash. Sayers was third in the 200 dash and fourth in the 100.
“Dayna once again was our top performer,” said Sullivan. “She has certainly established herself as one of the school’s all time bests and can cement her legacy next week by winning a state medal.”
Other Lady Beavers to capture the Manners Award during DuBois’ current run of team titles include Anna Pfingstler, Bethany Naugle, Jordan Ball, Danielle Sciremammano (twice) and Catherine Sheffo (twice).
Outside of DeSalve, DuBois also got individual victories by Jessica Smith and Ashley McCluskey.
Smith, who has returned from a severe ankle injury in the preseason to compete at a high level, won the 800 run (2:26.27). She added a fifth-place finish in the 400 dash — one of the two events DuBois placed three girls in.
“Jessica Smith has certainly had the most up and down season of anyone,” said Sullivan. “She nearly had a season-ending ankle injury before our first meet. She rehabbed like no other athlete I’ve ever seen and got herself as close to 100 percent as possible.
“It all paid off as she won the most exciting race of the day, holding on down the stretch to win the 800 meter dash. With nine days until the state meet, she will have even more time to completely heal.”
As for McCluskey, she led a DuBois sweep of the top three places in the javelin. McCluskey, a first-year track athlete, won with a personal-best throw of 111-6. Teammates Brandi Johnson and Nicole Schalk followed behind in second and third, respectively.
“The event of the day for us had to be the javelin,” said Sullivan. “To sweep a throwing event over the Punxsy and Bradford kids is quite an accomplishment. A special mention to Coach Marshall for helping Coach Sweet get these three ready to perform at such a high level. Ashley McCluskey and Nicole Schalk have improved more in the last 2 weeks than any throwers we’ve ever had. To have all three athletes over 100 feet is simply amazing.”
DuBois appeared to have a sixth victory on the day in the meet-ending 4x400 relay, as the quartet of Alaina Heberling, Smith, Kate Sutter and Sayers ran a season-best time. However, the squad was disqualified when officials ruled the team had switched lanes too early on the back stretch of the second leg.
DuBois also got second-place finishes from Payton McAninch (1,600), Valla Palmiere (shot put) and Courtney Clinger (discus), while Sutter (400), Maddison King (100 hurdles), McKensy Peles (300 hurdles), Jerica Fischer (high jump), Leithner (triple jump) and Crystal Clinger (shot put) were third in their respective events.
Other Lady Beaver who placed fourth were Heberling (400), McAninch (3,200), Ellie Welch (100 hurdles), King (300 hurdles). Lizzy French (800), Cassie Folmar (1,600) and Crystal Clinger (discus) chipped in fifth-place finishes.
As for St. Marys, the Lady Dutch were led by the duo of junior Michelle Bauer and sophomore Amanda Foster, who played a part in three of St. Marys’ five wins. The pair teamed up with Jenna Cherry and Kaitlyn Barackman to win the 4x800 relay in 10:05.94.
Bauer captured the 3,200 (11:38.71) and added a third-plade finish in the 1,600 and fourth in the 800. Foster won the 1,600 (5:19.08) while placing third in both the 800 and 3,200.
St. Marys also got wins from Rachel Bauer and Arianna Kleppinger.
Bauer, a senior and older sister of Michelle, came away with an interesting win in the pole vault as she cleared a season-best 9-0 to win the gold medal over top seed Brooke McGriff of Bradford.
Both girls cleared 8-6, with McGriff doing it on her first attempt and Bauer her second. Bauer cleared 9-0 on her first try. McGriff then decided to pass on the height despite having an advantage in scratches at the time. Neither athlete was able to clear 9-6. Since Bauer was the only one to actually clear 9-0, she was declared the winner.
Kleppinger ran to victory in the 100 dash, as she was the lone runner to break 13 seconds at 12.78. She added a second-place finish in the 200 dash and was part of the Lady Dutch 4x100 relay squad that placed second to DuBois.
St. Marys also got a runner-up finish from Sierra Nunamaker (triple jump), while Barackman (long jump), Rachel Glass (pole vault) and Sophie Geitner (discus) placed fourth in those respective events. Barackman (200 dash) and Sydney Eckert (shot put) added a fifth-place finishes.
The PIAA Class AAA Track and Field Championships will be held May 27-28 at Shippensburg University.