Relay team gets revenge on Rovers
On the opening day of the District 11 Track and Field Championships, the quartet of Sabrina Mertz, Sarah Segan, Carly Pierce and Rachelle Cerrone gave a talented Easton team all it could handle in the Class AAA 3200-meter relay but came up just short, finishing with a time of 9:34.38 to the Red Rovers' 9:31.03.
On Wednesday, Northwestern made sure it didn't happen again.
"We knew that Easton was up there, and just said, 'Guys, we're not losing to them again. That's not going to happen,'" Segan said. "We made sure we worked really hard. This is our last race in the whole meet; we had to go out with a bang and we did."
Segan ran the anchor leg as the Lady Tigers finished in 4:06.15 to Easton's 4:09.69.
The senior was ahead when she took the baton from Mertz while Emily Renner ran the first leg and Alexis Gawelko had the second. The senior stretched the Tigers' lead during her run to secure the victory.
"Knowing that we're a small school that has little to pick from, and we go out against these major schools, that's such a huge accomplishment for us," Segan said. "It shows how hard we work. It's fantastic. It makes the win even more great."
The performance was especially satisfying for Northwestern coach Chuck Groller, who knew the group was capable of hanging with, and beating, a powerhouse like Easton.
"We knew we were strong in the relays," Groller said. "I talked to the girls before (the 1600) relay and said, 'It's your day. Let's show them what a Colonial League team can do.'
"And they did, and I'm so happy for them."
Though the result in the 3200 relay on Day 1 wasn't exactly what the top-seeded Lady Tigers were hoping for, the opportunity to compete in Shippensburg is one Pierce in particular is thankful for after missing much of last season with an injury.
"It feels really good," she said. "I'm still very proud to be a part of this team even though we didn't get gold. We're still going to make it to states and I'm still very happy with my team and proud of how we did."
While Segan and Mertz will be competing in both relays, Gawelko secured her spot in a second event at Shippensburg with a fourth-place finish in the 100 hurdles. The senior's time of 15.54 was solid and under the AAA SQS of 15.65 for the event.
After feeling like she didn't perform up to her potential in Tuesday's trials, Gawelko was looking forward to having another chance Wednesday.
"The wind was pretty strong today so I was hoping for my personal best," she said. "[Tuesday], I hit a hurdle so I almost didn't even qualify (for the final) but I was just able to get in there, and today I was determined to do a lot better.
"I definitely had a lot of motivation. After not having a good race [Tuesday], I really wanted to end my season on a good one. But luckily, I made a state qualifying time so I was able to extend it."
Northwestern's success wasn't limited to the track, as Natcheli Gomes won gold in the high jump with a mark of 5-3, tying her personal best.
The victory didn't come easy for Gomes, who defeated Whitehall's Iyana Jones in a jump-off after both cleared the SQS of 5-3.
When neither was able to surpass 5-4, or do 5-3 again and both missed the first attempt at 5-2, Gomes was able to claim the title by clearing the height on her second attempt, something Jones was unable to do.
"We were both so tired," Gomes joked. "We both had about 18 jumps today. But the fact that we had to do a jump-off made it very rewarding."
After winning two individual titles last year in Class AA competition, Northwestern's Cam Richardson adapted well to the bump up to AAA this season. Richardson advanced to states with a second place finish in the 200 (22.29) and a fourth place result in the 100 in 11.04, faster the state qualifying standard of 11.20 in the event.
While Richardson knows the competition will be stiff, the senior is looking forward to having the chance to show what he can do at states, regardless of what class he's in.
"I don't look at times," Richardson said. "I've never been in AAA before, but I know it's fast. I remember watching (Demetrius) Lanier (of East Stroudsburg South) run it (200) last year. I know the times are going to be fast, I know they're going to be good.
"But I'm just going to go into it and run, and whatever I come out with, I come out with."