BROOKVILLE — The St. Marys girls track and field team made the switch from Class AA back to up AAA this season, but that didn’t phase the Lady Dutch Wednesday.
All they did was capture five titles, set two meet records and finish with 16 Top 3 finishes at the District 9 Class AAA Championships at Brookville Area High School.
The trio of senior Michelle Bauer and juniors Amanda Foster and Arianna Kleppinger led the charge for the Lady Dutch, who finished third (74 points) in a tight team battle with Bradford (99.5 points) and DuBois (83 points).
Bauer and Kleppinger set meet records in winning the 3,200 and 100 dash, respectively, with Bauer adding a second win as part of the Lady Dutch’s 4x800 relay. Foster, who was a member of that relay squad, collected three D-9 crowns, nearly setting a meet record while crossing the line first in the 1,600.
“It was a great day for our girls, and I thought a lot of them had their best races of the season, honestly,” said head coach Amanda Clark. “We were very impressed with the whole team. They pushed hard, especially for it being a hot day. We’ve been use to umbrellas and 10 layers of clothing, so this was nice.”
Kleppinger erased the second-oldest meet record left on the girls side when she pulled out a victory in arguably the most exciting race of the day in the 100 dash.
She and Bradford freshman Regan Johnson were neck-and-neck the entire race, with Kleppinger outleaning Johnson at the line by the slimmest of margins, 12.52-12.56. Both runners actually bested the old record in the event, but Kleppinger is the one who goes in the book as erasing the 24-year-old mark of 12.64 set by Bradford’s Jennifer Tessena back in 1994.
Tessena had two other meet records in the 200 and 400 that she set in 1996 broken Tuesday by Lady Owl junior Ashton McGriff, who shared the James Manners Memorial Award (most points scored in meet) with older sister Brooke McGriff (senior).
Kleppinger finished third in the 200 dash finals and added a silver medal in the 4x400 relay and a bronze in the 4x100 event.
Bauer also placed her name in the D-9 Meet record books in the 3,200 as she cruised to victory in 11:31.53 to beat freshman teammate Lucy Anthony by nearly 1:11. Bauer’s time bested the meet record of 11:36.12 held by Bradford’s Sarah Lonzi (2006).
Bauer and Foster teamed up with freshmen Tessa Grotzinger and Megan Quesenberry to claim top honors in the 4x800 relay. The quartet posted a time of 10:10.7 to beat DuBois by a little over a minute. Clark said junior Autumn Majchrzak and sophomore Kira Pesce will be added as alternates for the relay at states in case they are needed to run.
Foster’s impressive day included individual wins in the 1,600 and later the 800 runs. Foster won the 1,600 in 5:16.95, besting Clearfield’s Jaclyn Freeman by just under 33 seconds. She just missing the meet record of 5:15.14 set by Clearfield’s Gwenn Porter back in 2010.
In the 800, Foster jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back as she crossed the line in 2:25.64 to beat second-place finisher Lauren Usaitis of DuBois by just under nine seconds.
“Our top runners had a great day today, and our relays came out exactly how we thought they would,” said Clark. “Amanda had a very good day, and Arianna with the meet record was phenomenal, and I know she was proud of herself too. She pushed hard for that one.
“Michelle ran a great race in her final district race and got the meet the record, and she really proved herself. She worked hard for that, and they all worked hard for this day. I’m excited to take this group to states.”
Qusenberry and Grotzinger weren’t limited to just their gold in the 4x800 relay, as the freshmen duo capitalized on their first district experience. The pair teamed up with Foster and Kleppinger to finish second in the 4x400 relay.
Grotzinger also finished second behind Aston McGriff in the 400 (1:02.72), while Quesenberry was third in the 800 (2:32.11). Fellow freshman Summer Herring added a second place in the 300 hurdles (48.82) behind Brooke McGriff and a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles (16.83).
The Lady Dutch’s success wasn’t limited just to the track though.
Junior Sierra Nunamker placed in three field events. Nunamaker won silver in both the long (15-0 3/4) and triple (33-3 1/4) jumps and a bronze in the pole vault (7-6).
Freshman Sage Heigel added a third-place finish in the shot put (31-5 1/2), while senior Kara Reiter was fourth in the long jump (14-3 3/4).
“I’m also excited about our our freshmen and sophomore group, and there is room to grow from this,” said Clark. “It’s going to be a really good next couple years, and we have a really good foundation to work with.”
The Lady Dutch’s third-place 4x100 relay squad (53.44) featured Caitlyn Bankovich (senior), Reiter, Courtney Pistner (freshman) and Kleppinger.
All of St. Marys’ winners will compete at the PIAA Class AAA Track and Field Championships next weekend at Shippensburg University.