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HIGH SCHOOL TRACK AND FIELD: McDonald gets redemption with WPIAL title

by on May 19, 2017 10:34 AM

BALDWIN — Kara McDonald remembers last year all too well. She spent the past 364 days stewing over it.

Her promising junior year ended abruptly as she fell two inches short of the qualifying mark for the PIAA Championships last season. This time around, McDonald didn’t leave anything to chance.

The Derry senior uncorked a throw of 137 feet, 9 inches, the best throw of her season by three inches, to claim the individual title in the Class 2A girls’ javelin at the WPIAL Individual Championships at Baldwin High School on Thursday. South Park’s Maura Huwalt was a distant second with a throw of 124-4.

“It was my motivation all year,” McDonald said. “It all comes down to this meet. This is the big meet to send you off to states, so definitely, all year that was on my mind. … As I was training, I looked back at videos from last year of how I threw. I went to different camps. I talked to my coach from college and stuff like that. I put everything together, worked super hard on technique, and it’s definitely paying off, consistently getting 130s. I’m definitely happy with that.”

In addition to her javelin title, McDonald claimed two other medals and qualified for next weekend’s PIAA Track and Field Championships in three individual events.

She also earned a pair of third-place finishes in the discus (113-3) and high jump (5-0) to walk away with three medals, the only area athlete to place in three events at the meet.

Apollo-Ridge sprinter Dillon Butz-Retzer claimed the only other WPIAL title for area competitors, winning the 400-meter dash in 50.25 seconds.

In total, six individuals and two relay teams advanced to the state meet.

“It’s definitely nice coming from a small school and showing that you can win something like this,” McDonald said. “A lot of people think, ‘Small school, you can’t really do much with that.’ But with hard work, dedication, and especially with last year, coming back from that injury, missing going to states by one inch, that was definitely a letdown. To come back and go in three events, it’s definitely nice. Not so much winning the title. That was nice, but just proving to people you can do multiple things. You can have a down season, come back and do great.”

It was a great day for Derry. Three individual athletes and one relay team advanced, the largest Trojans’ contingent going to the state meet in years.

Shawn Broadway will also compete in three events at the state meet. He took second in the 300 hurdles, fourth in the 110 hurdles and ran a leg on the Trojans’ third-place 1,600-meter relay team. Senior Zach Baum placed second in the javelin (178-8).

A junior, Broadway was the No. 2 seed in both of his individual events. He set a personal-best with his time of 39.99 seconds in the 300 hurdles, the first time he’s broken the 40-second barrier.

“I was hoping for both,” he said. “I knew the times would be a lot closer. I didn’t know if I was going to make it today or not. I was nervous coming in. I didn’t know why. I just didn’t want to be done yet. I just want to keep pushing. I’m not satisfied yet. I just want to keep working harder.”

“I’m excited to be going to states, and I’m not disappointed that I didn’t win,” said Baum, who entered the meet as the top seed in the boys’ Class 2A javelin field. “I’m more disappointed that I’m not hitting the distances that I should be. I was seeded at 192 and I only threw 178. That’s my frustration.”

A senior, Butz-Retzer already owns one medal from the PIAA Championships. He was a sophomore two years ago when the Apollo-Ridge 400-meter relay team took fifth at states. This year, he’s hoping to add an individual title after qualifying in two events. He also placed second in the 200 (22.94).

“Obviously, my highest goal coming as the No. 1 seed in both events was to take gold,” he said, “but I knew that was a little bit far-fetched just because of the fact the 400 is a killer. But honestly, I’m happy and positive with how today went, and it just gives me all the confidence going into states. I’m excited.”

Joining Butz-Retzer in Shippensburg next weekend will be freshman teammate Maycen Anthony, who impressed with a fourth-place finish in the 400 (1:00.24).

“I didn’t expect this, not at all,” Anthony said. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to WPIALs, and I did. I was just thinking about it today when I was fixing my track spikes. I noticed that whenever I bought them, I was just thinking about running track and not really about going to WPIALs at all. I just wanted to run and have fun.”

In the Class 3A field, one individual and one relay team advanced from Indiana.

Senior Abby Myers shattered her personal-best in the 400 (58.75) by nearly a second to earn an automatic berth to the state championships despite her seventh-place finish. Myers qualified by running the state-qualifying standard. Before Thursday, she had never posted a time under 59 seconds.

“That was my first time in the 58s,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it, so it’s good to surprise myself, I guess.”

For a while, it looked like the Indiana girls wouldn’t be sending anyone to the PIAA Championships. One of the Indians’ last hopes on the day, Myers came through emphatically and will be the Indians’ lone representative at the state meet.

“I was confident that we’d be able to send someone either on the boys’ team or on the girls’ team,” she said. “We all wanted it so bad, we’ve been practicing really hard, so I was confident that the team was going to send someone, and whoever that was, I was going to be really proud of them.

The Indians’ 3,200 relay team of Grant Sharp, Kendall Branan, Joey Bujdos and Sam Lenze placed fifth with a state-qualifying time of 8:01.73.

“I’m really glad I’m with this group of guys, and I’m really glad I’m able to go with them,” said Sharp, a senior who ran the opening leg, “just have a good time because that’s three days we get to spend together. Hopefully, we can place at states and just have a fun time to end the season.”


Mirza Zukic is a sports writer that primarily covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and is the Gazette's track and field beat writer.
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