SHIPPENSBURG – Quorteze Levy remembers the sting he felt when finishing third last year in the 300-meter hurdles at the PIAA Class AA Track & Field Championships.
Levy, a senior at Washington High School, dedicated the past year to prepare for a shot at a gold medal. During the preliminary round Friday at Shippensburg University, he put himself in that position.
Levy ran a time of 38.60 – second-best in Class AA to qualify for today’s semifinals. His time beat that of the meet’s perceived favorite, Austin Shupp of Palmerton. The senior got a glimpse of his top competition when he was placed in the same heat as Donaldo Benjamin of Philadelphia’s Del-Val Charter.
Benjamin maintained an early lead over Levy to defeat him by 0.37 seconds.
“I could have done better,” Levy said. “I started off bad. I didn’t hit it hard enough over the first few hurdles. I started catching him around the bend, but couldn’t make up for it.”
After running the final leg of the 3,200-meter relay that qualified for the semifinals and helping the 1,600 meter relay team qualify for the semifinals with a time of 3:26.08, Levy could leave Shippensburg with three medals.
The Prexies’ started the 3,200 relay with D’Heaven Kelley, who held a substantial lead after two laps. Ben Heim followed and narrowly lost the lead. That’s when DeQuay Isbell, who was inserted into the lineup last week, helped Wash High pull away. Isbell also qualified for the semifinals in the 400-meter dash with the second-best time in the classification (50.21).
“That’s only prelims,” Levy said. “We have to do the same thing (today). It’s not official until we get the medals and cross the finish line.”
Levy ran the final leg as the Prexies took first place in the second heat with a time of 8:04.41. The composition of the legs has been an ongoing process for Wash High head coach Teresa Booker.
“We looked at their splits and individual races, then it was just watching them in practice,” Booker said. “It fell together for us. We tried DeQuay at Baldwin to see how he fit with the team, and it was a perfect fit. It is like a little family. They connect off the track as well, and I think that’s what helps with them.”
Rideout takes third in discus
Canon-McMillan senior Alec Rideout, who set a personal and school record at the Washington-Greene County Coaches Championships with a distance of 185-11 in the discus, took home a bronze medal in the Class AAA event.
Rideout overcame a tough start to finish at 181-3. He was defeated by the WPIAL Class AAA champion, Max Adams of Hempfield. Adams’ winning throw measured 198-3.
“I wasn’t getting my leg under me,” Rideout said of the performance. “I started getting into it. I had two more throws that I just needed to hit. I threw some motion into there, popped my chest and it soared.”
Three of the top five in the discus hail from the WPIAL. Jordan Geist of Knoch joined Adams and Rideout as a silver medalist. After coming up short in the discus, Rideout’s focus turns to the shot put, where Adams and Geist will be his top competition. His goal is to break 60 feet, a distance Adams and Geist have hit with regularity.
“It shows how good the WPIAL is, how good the coaching is, how good the athletes coming out of there are, and it shows how much we want to win,” Rideout said.
Natalie Hilton of South Fayette advanced to the semifinals of the Class AA 1,600-meter run by placing fifth in the first heat with a time of 5:12.90. Fellow classmate Mitch Valko moved on in the Class AA 110-meter hurdles.
Valko’s time of 14.30 was the best in the second heat to reach the semifinals. Ringgold’s Bailey Cooper advanced to the semifinals of the Class AAA 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.36.
South Fayette’s Tori Valachovic, who set a personal record in the 100 hurdles at the WPIAL Team Track Championships, barely missed the semifinals after turning in a 16.36.
“My start wasn’t as good as it normally is, and if I don’t get a good start, I don’t have the rhythm. You know when you have it,” Valachovic said.
Others who failed to advance to the semifinals were Gavin Anderson of California in the 100, the Canon-McMillan boys 3,200 relay team, Erin Allison of Fort Cherry in the 800 run and the South Fayette girls 3,200 relay team.
California senior Kailyn Clancy, who placed first in the shot put at the Penn Relays, will participate in the event today. She is the top-seeded competitor with the best distance in the state at 46-10.
She placed sixth in the discus Friday with a distance of 125-4. Emily Campbell of Slippery Rock won the event at 146-8.
Fort Cherry senior Jenna Lucas, a Central Florida recruit, took 18th in the Class AA discus, but will defend her state title in the javelin today. Her throw of 157-4 is the top mark in the state and is 10 feet better than her winning attempt last year.