On your mark: County coaches meet ready for starter’s gun

April 20, 2017

One of the must-read releases for track athletes is the performance lists that shows the season’s top times and distances in the WPIAL.

The top 16 in each event in Class AA and top 24 in Triple-A advance to the WPIAL Championships. On Saturday, those sheets won’t matter as the County Coaches Track Meet will allow an opportunity for athletes to be judged on head-to-head competition.

The meet begins Saturday at Canon-McMillan with the field events at 9:15 a.m. and the track prelims at 10 a.m.

One athlete to keep an eye on is Chyna Beck, a senior from Canon-McMillan. She leads Class AAA girls in the triple jump, where her school-record 39-0 1/2 is one-and-a-half feet better than Elaine Longjohn of North Hills.

“In the past, she has had some injury issues,” said Mike Koot, Beck’s coach at C-M. “Now, she is feeling good and you can see it in her performance.”

Beck finished second in the triple jump in the state indoor finals, setting a school record with a leap of 39-11 1/2. She also will compete in both hurdles and 100 dash. Last season, Beck was a state qualifier in the 100, 200 and 400 relay team.

“She has been jumping since middle school but this is as healthy as she’s been in a long time,” said Koot.

Beck, headed for Duquesne, is fifth in the 300 hurdles (48.25) and ninth in the 200 (26.48).

California has two athletes listed No. 1 in their respective events, but only one is planning on competing. Ashley McIntosh is second in the 100 hurdles (15.70) and first in the 300 hurdles (46.10), while Marissa Bitonti heads the Class AA javelin with a throw of 132-6. California is not participating in the meet, but coach Matt Loomis expects Bitonti to enter on her own and throw.

“She’s our top thrower and has put in a lot of work,” said Loomis. “She was in a walking boot to start the season. In our first official meet, she got the boot off and threw it. She’s been in the 120s consistently since.”

McIntosh, a senior, has been working hard since missing the state tournament last season in the hurdles by one-tenth of a second.

“I was surprised in the sense she was No. 1 (in the performance sheets), but I expected her to be competitive,” Loomis said.

One name not on the sheets is Bentworth’s Brenna Cavanaugh. The Benworth junior’s marks were submitted a day after the deadline passed to make this week’s sheet. But her 17-10 in the long jump would be good enough to put her at No. 1. So would her 36-3 in the triple jump.

“The long jump is her strongest event,” said Bentworth coach Jerome Nixon. “She’s just learning the triple jump. The county coaches meet is always a big test for her. We’ll see what happens.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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