SU women's outdoor track & field: Lady Raiders are Conference champions

The Lady Raiders of Shippensburg won their 14th championship title in the outdoor track and field category over the weekend.

 Shippensburg University’s women’s outdoor track & field team scored in 17-of-21 events and had 24 individual place-winners, including 16 on Saturday, to claim the 2021 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championship in competition held at Seth Grove Stadium.

The victory marks Shippensburg’s 14th outdoor conference championship and its first since 2018, which was the final year of a streak of nine consecutive championships won by the Raiders. In 2021, SU was victorious thanks to a balanced approach in which it scored double-digit points in eight different events – winning four.

SU finished with 131 points, posting a 36.5-point victory over second-place Slippery Rock. The Rock ran second in the 4×400-meter relay to separate itself from third-place Cal U. (88 points).

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The Raiders beganSaturdayin third place but began to pull away with a huge momentum swing in the middle of the day that was punctuated by a rousing performance in the 400-meter hurdles – SU’s most successful event of the championships. Three women in their debut PSAC outdoor meet combined to yield 17 points for the Raiders, highlighted by a conference title by Lieke Black (Ambler, Pa./Wissahickon).

Competing in the second heat of a timed final (prelims were postponed Friday), Black was in a battle down the final straightaway with Seton Hill’s Sarah Johnson. Black had an excellent conclusion to her race and crossed the finish line in a PR of 1:04.10, giving her the win by nearly a full second. Johnson, meanwhile, stumbled after getting over the final hurdle and ended up in 16th place.

READ: Shippensburg University sports: Women’s Track & Field championships

Thriving with personal bests

Just prior, Malayna Rowe (Mifflinburg, Pa./Mifflinburg) and Kiamorey Clark (Lancaster, Pa./J.P. McCaskey) ran in the first of the timed finals heats and thrived with huge personal bests. Rowe had an absolutely magical run of 1:05.28, a new PR by 1.5 seconds, to claim the opening heat with a time that proved to be an All-PSAC, third-place finish. Clark, who secured her spot in this year’s league meet with a PR last week at West Chester, improved that PR by nine-tenths of a second with a time of 1:07.59 that was good enough for eighth place and provided another pivotal team point.

Around the same time, Kate Matrisciano (Whippany, N.J./Whippany Park (Sacred Heart)) won the shot put title with a top throw of 47 feet, 7 inches. It marked the third consecutive meet in which Matrisciano notched a new PR with a NCAA-provisional qualifier, this time enhancing her personal best by nearly a foot. The victorious throw came on her second attempt and was the highlight of an excellent sequence in which four of her other five throws would have also won the competition.

It is Matrisciano’s first career conference title in the shot after a fifth-place finish in 2019 and a fourth-place finish at the 2018 NEC Championships as a competitor for Sacred Heart.

SU punctuated the victory with a win in the 4×400-meter relay, as the quartet of Rachel Bruno (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg), Caroline Mastria (Sykesville, Md./Century), Black and Leah Graybill (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) ran 3:55.12 to post a four-second victory.

READ: SU Lady Raiders : Graybill 200 meters record tops

Raider sprinters

The Raider sprinters, directed by assistant coach Doug Knol, contributed 75 points toward the team score from just seven events. Among the heavy lifters was Graybill, who finished as the PSAC runner-up to Most Valuable Athlete winner Divonne Franklin in the 100 and 200. Graybill’s time in the 100 meters of 11.95 seconds improved her school record by a hundredth of a second while her 200-meter time of 24.83 seconds was within a tenth of a second of her school record.

Mastria and Bruno combined to run 3-4 in the 400-meter dash. A final surge by Mastria put her past Bruno as the women ran respective times of 58.14 seconds and 58.19 seconds. It is Bruno’s second scoring performance in the event; she finished second in 2019. Bruno also placed fifth in the 200 with a time of 25.63 seconds, while Sara McKean (Shinglehouse, Pa./Oswayo Valley) took eighth in the 100.

Megan Kendall (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock) and Brooke Emery (Brookville, Pa./Brookville Area) combined for 12 team points in the 100-meter hurdles. Kendall broke the 15-second mark for the first time, running 14.89 seconds for a runner-up finish. Emery’s time of 15.35 seconds resulted in fifth place.

In the mid-distance/distance events, Kyra Gerber (Dillsburg, Pa./Northern York) capped a solid campaign with a third-place finish in the 1,500 meters, running 4:49.32. Isabelle Gulgert (Herndon, Va./South Lakes) delivered with a sixth-place time in the 5K of 18:17.12.

The 4×100-meter relay of Adriana Baxter (Philadelphia, Pa./Parkway Northwest), McKean, Zarria Williams (Mount Laurel, N.J./Camden Catholic (Ohio Christian)) and Kayla Dalhouse (Middletown, Md./Middletown) finished fifth in 48.37 four one-thousandths (.004) of a second behind Slippery Rock.

READ: SU track and field: Graybill improves school record

Personal bests across the board

Raiders across the board were achieving new personal bests. Jenna Lytle (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) impressed in the triple jump with a new PR of 37 feet, 4 ½ inches that resulted in sixth place. Also in the field, Maddie Sieg (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) took eighth in the javelin enhancing her PR to 117 feet, 10 inches.

Of the 23 Raider place-winners either individually or in a relay at this year’s PSAC Championships, only six of those women had ever scored at an outdoor league championship prior tothis weekend.

Saturday Finals
2. Leah Graybill 11.95
8. Sara McKean 12.71
2. Leah Graybill 24.83
5. Rachel Bruno 25.63
3. Caroline Mastria 58.14
4. Rachel Bruno 58.19
No finalists
3. Kyra Gerber 4:49.32
6. Isabelle Gulgert 18:17.12
12. Bella Marchini 19:05.70
14. Leah Moffitt 19:34.66
2. Megan Kendall 14.89
5. Brooke Emery 15.35
1. Lieke Black 1:04.10
3. Malayna Rowe 1:05.28
8. Kiamorey Clark 1:07.59
5. Adriana BaxterSara McKeanZarria WilliamsKayla Dalhouse 48.35
1. Rachel BrunoCaroline MastriaLieke BlackLeah Graybill 3:55.12
Pole Vault jump,
12. Ashlee Newton 10′ 3 ¼” (3.13m)
Ellie Kuhn NH
Triple Jump
6. Jenna Lytle 37′ 4 ½” (11.39m)
15. Ariel Jones 33′ 3 ¾” (10.15m)
Shot Put
1. Kate Matrisciano 47′ 7″ (14.50m)
8. Maddie Sieg 117′ 10″ (35.92m)

Photos by Bill Smith/Shippensburg University

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