By Rich Rhoades
BROOKVILLE — Instead of a newcomer standing atop the team title list for the girls at Friday night’s District 9 Class AA Championships, it was an old standby taking over the top spot again.
The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders, after a two-year hiatus with Brookville’s back-to-back titles in 2012-13, edged Johnsonburg in a 105-103 slugfest. Together, the Lady Crusaders and Ramettes combined to win 11 of the 18 events.
But it was ECC that got the slight edge at the end as a second-place finish to Johnsonburg in the 4×400-meter relay secured the 2 ½-point win. The Lady Crusaders won their 11th title in 14 years and 15th overall. They won 10 of 11 crowns from 2001 through 2011.
Leading the way, Georgetown University recruit Kennedy Weisner won her fourth straight district title in both the 800 and 1,600 runs and will defend state titles in both of them next weekend at the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University. Weisner broke her own meet record by almost a second in the 800 with a 2:11.8. She came within a second of besting her meet record in the 1,600 run by winning in 4:56.29.
Teammate Victoria Dippold, runner-up to Weisner in the 1,600, won the 3,200 run in 10:54.93. Junior Nicole Florio doubled in the 400 dash (1:00.54) and high jump where she won her third straight high jump title, clearing 5 feet, 2 inches.
The Lady Crusaders picked up valuable points elsewhere, helping negate some of Johnsonburg’s relay dominance. While the Ramettes won all three relays, the Lady Crusaders finished second in both the 4×800 (Julia Sweeney, Dippold, Lauryn Wortman and Kara Detsch) and 4×400 (Emma Daghir, Wortman, Florio and Rachel Glatt) and fifth in the 4×100 (Marla Scacchitti, Daghir, Glatt and Florio). Wortman added a third in the 800 run.
In the field events, ECC had Camille and MacKenzie Gahr finish third and tie for sixth respectively in the discus, Cassidy Cunningham and Smithbauer were third and fourth in the shot put, Macy Neureiter was sixth in the long jump and Hannah Oninkn was third in the pole vault.
Johnsonburg notched three 10-point wins in the relays. Emily Dubler, Alanna Schiafone, Caitlin Viglione and Kayli Metheney won the 4×100, Chelsea Benson, Gabbi Genninger, Taylor Wolfe and Angela DeAngelo won the 4×400 and DeAngelo, Benninger, Wolfe and Rachel Guyer won the 4×800.
Benson had a strong day, adding wins in the 100 and 300 hurdles, and the freshman Viglione won the 100 dash. Schiafone was second in the 200 dash, and Guyer placed fourth in the 1,600.
In the field, returning state runner-up Benninger finished second but still qualified for states — top two go to states, plus any athlete who meets qualifying standards below second place — in the triple jump. Ashley Imbrogno did that in both the discus where she was second and finished third in the javelin with a state-qualifying throw. Kiersten Hinton was sixth in the high jump.
Kane’s Morgan Nicholson won the James Manners Award for the outstanding performer scoring the most meet points. She defended her shot put title, won the discus and finished second in the javelin.
Both Nicholson and javelin champion Brooke Hinderliter (139 feet, 9 inches) of Redbank Valley, along with Johnsonburg’s Ashley Imbrogno all threw over 130 feet and should be among the top seeds at states. Fourth-place finisher Jennifer Ochs also qualified on distance with a toss of 124 feet, 4 inches.
Coudersport’s Jenna Gabreski doubled in the long and triple jumps. Brookville’s Brandi Cooper broke the only meet record in the field events when she cleared 11 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault, breaking the 2010 record of 11 feet by Otto-Eldred’s Jocelyn Cochran.
DuBois Central Catholic’s Maddie Meyers, a returning state qualifier in the 100 dash and two-time state qualifier in the 200, won her first title in the 200 and also earned a trip to Shippensburg with her second in the 100 dash.
Brookville’s Emily Rickard became a four-time state qualifier in the high jump with her fourth-straight runner-up finish. Her teammate Amanda Ray, a provisional qualifier and 21st seed in the long jump, nearly pulled off a rare feat but impressive one nonetheless with her third-place finish, just 2 ½ inches away from a runner-up spot.