Madison Mimnaugh has posted most of the race wins in her high school career at 800 and 1600 meters.
Unlike sprinters, middle distance and distance runners generally don’t have to worry about edging competitors at the finish line.
Mimnaugh had never talked about, let alone put into practice or action the concept of leaning.
Yet, when she needed it, in just the third competitive 400-meter dash of her career, instincts took over. The Pittston Area sophomore out-leaned North Pocono’s Kailtyn Lewis to win the district title in a race so close that Mimnaugh was among those who did not immediately know who had won.
“I got her with the lean right at the end,” Mimnaugh said. “I knew she was right on me.
“I wanted it. I wanted to make it to states.”
Both Mimnaugh, the newcomer to the event, and Lewis, the defending champion, not only had come in under the state standard in the event, they also had bettered the previous best 400-meter times run in district history.
Beating the state standard would have meant Mimnaugh could have still gone to the state meet in the event even after Lewis caught and inched ahead with about 15 meters left. The perfectly timed lean, however, means she goes into the record books and takes the gold medal with a time of 57.58 seconds, three-hundredths better than Lewis.
Mimnaugh, a sophomore had never run the 400 until she ran a relay leg at the Jordan Relays in her return from an ankle injury suffered when she stepped in a hole while doing a distance training run.
“It worked out perfect,” said Mimnaugh, who put up such an impressive time that she ran the 400 in her next meet, putting up the 59.50 that brought her to Scranton as the fourth seed.
Mimnaugh and junior Olivia Giambra both won two events and made other contributions Monday at Memorial Stadium, leading the way as Pittston Area claimed its first team championship since 1988, doing so by a comfortable margin. The Patriots scored 104.7 points while second-place Dallas had 82.
“Coming into it, we knew we had a chance,” Giambra said. “We knew everyone had to perform, which everyone did.”
Mimnaugh also knocked off defending champion Lewis in the 800 and ran anchor legs on relay teams that finished second and fourth.
Giambra won the long and triple jumps and placed fourth in the high jump.
Mimnaugh began her day by running an opening leg of under 2:16 in the 3200 relay. That time would have been within a fraction of a second of the 800 record.
The strong start, combined with efforts from Tara Johnson, Eastin Ashby and Samantha Mayers to bring Pittston Area home in second place with a time of 9:31.66, good enough to qualify for Friday and Saturday’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships.
When she ran the 800 later, Mimnaugh won the gold by a little over two seconds with a finish of 2:18.87.
With the team title already clinched, Mimnaugh finished her day by anchoring a fourth-place 1600 relay team that included Allie Barber, Mayers and Eastin Ashby.
Giambra won the triple jump with 37-4 ¼ and the long jump with 17-10 ¾. She cleared 4-11 in the high jump.
While she was favored to win the long jump, Giambra outperformed higher-seeded opponents in both the triple jump and high jump.
“I thought I was going to do best in long jump,” Giambra said. “I was just trying for a (personal record) in triple jump and I ended up winning both, which just an amazing surprise.”
Mimnaugh and Giambra were clear standouts, but Pittston Area used points from 19 athletes to win the team title.
Those who finish in the top six receive medals and the top eight score team points.
The Patriots had three of the top seven in the high jump. Mia Cain was third with 5-1 while Giambra was fourth and Abby Sheerer tied for sixth.
Mayers added a fourth-place finish in the 800 to her two relay medals.
Taryn Ashby was fourth in the javelin and Erin Senese tied for fourth in the pole vault.
Liz Waleski took fifth in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 100 hurdles.
Allison Parrent was fifth in the javelin.
Taylor Powers placed seventh in both the 100 and 200 and was part of the sixth-place 400 relay team with Rhiannon Avvisato, Jamie Chisdock and Mia Barbieri.
In addition to her two relay medals, Eastin Ashby scored in the 300 hurdles with an eighth-place finish.
Barber added an eighth in the 400 to her fourth in the 1600 relay.
Iana Davis was sixth in the shot put, Lauren Senese tied for sixth in the pole vault and Sydney Williams seventh in the triple jump.
Wyoming Area finished eighth out of the 18 teams that scored points in the meet, compiling a total of 37.
Haley Stackhouse led the way for the Warriors, finishing second in the high jump and sixth in the long jump.
Marcyssa Brown was fourth in the long jump, sixth in the triple jump and tied for sixth in the high jump.
Bree Bednarski placed fourth in the 400 and eighth in the 100 while also joining Brew Bednarski, Maya Custer and Alexa Malloy on the seventh-place 1600 relay.
Danielle Bulger was fifth in the high jump and eighth in the triple jump.
Danielle Stillarty finished sixth in the 300 hurdles.