SCRANTON – The biggest individual performance was placed right in the middle of an impressive team effort.
Abington Heights junior Tessa Barrett outran a decorated opponent, destroying a 28-year-old meet record while helping fuel a comeback that carried the Lady Comets past Hazleton Area to the Class AAA girls championship in the District 2 Track and Field Championships at Memorial Stadium in Scranton.
Barrett’s record effort in the 3,200-meter run May 14 helped Abington Heights win the title for the fifth time in seven years.
One day earlier, Lakeland captured the Class AA boys championship.
Athletes and teams from the area excelled during the two days of district track championships. Barrett and Jessica Kurey led Abington Heights to its title. Gavin O’Donnell and Mark Arzie helped lift Lakeland to its championship. Cassidy Jenkins won a pair of titles while helping the Lakeland girls tie for second in Class AA.
Each of the champions qualified for Friday and Saturday’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships at Shippensburg University. Barrett, who won a state indoor title at 3000 meters, confirmed her status as a threat in the outdoor 3200 while outrunning Regan Rome, the Dallas junior who finished second in the state in Class AA cross country last fall.
Barrett stayed on Rome’s heels for the first 2000 meters then surged into the lead as the sixth of eight laps began. She led the rest of the way to finish in 10:32.78, well below the record of 10:52.24 set by Honesdale’s Renee Robbins in 1985. Rome finished in 10:37.81.
“Having such great competition in our district is what gets me out the door running,” Barrett said. “It’s really great to have them on your heels the whole way or for me to be on their heels.”
Rome finished third in the state 3200 last season when 10:38.40 was good enough to take the title. According to milesplit.com, only Unionville’s Courtney Smith has run a faster 3200 than Barrett and Rome this season.
When Jenn Burke followed Barrett in, taking 4th place, the combination of the 15 points the two produced in the 3200 put Abington Heights into the team lead to stay. The Lady Comets pulled out the title, 102-93, over Hazleton Area by outscoring the Lady Cougars, 32-18, in the final four events.
Barrett came close to another prestigious record earlier in the day, holding off another of her frequent distance track and cross country opponents. Barrett and Honesdale’s Summer Hill each broke five minutes with Barrett’s 4:56.19 coming just 1.15 seconds short of the 1995 record set by state champion Lisa Roder of Wallenpaupack.
After winning the 3200, Barrett said she actually felt like she pushed harder in the 1600. She scratched from the 1600 in Shippensburg to concentrate on the 3200.
“I actually killed myself in the 1600, then for (3200) I sort of took a step back,” said Barrett, who spent the time between races with her legs propped up in her car in an attempt to drain lactic acid and bounce back fast. “I think it showed that my strength is actually in the distance.”
Jessica Kurey also played a big role in the team title. She won the 100 hurdles in 15.81 seconds and was part of the winning 400-meter relay team that also featured Kelsey O’Donnell, Ally Christman and Isabelle Clauss. Kurey also was fourth in the pole vault and fifth in the 300 hurdles.
Clauss ran the relay anchor leg despite an injury that led to her scratching from the 300 hurdles and false-starting from the 100-meter hurdles finals to forfeit a finish in the top eight.
Alex Chapman finished second in the shot put and third in the discus.
The Lady Comets got several fourth-place finishes in the meet where the top six earned medals and the top eight scored points. Jen Burke (3200), O’Donnell (200), Abigail McMinn (high jump), Katherine Rosencrance (javelin), Kurey and the 3200-relay team of Jen Burke, Katrica Helcoski, Erin Jaeger and Barrett placed fourth.
Jaeger was fifth in the 800, Mia Gurganus was sixth in the pole vault, and Johanna Show was sixth in the javelin and seventh in the shot put. The 1600 relay team of Missy Burke, Tiana Yarns, Michaelina Holmes and Emma Henzes finished seventh.
Scranton Prep was 11th with 29.25 points.
Elizabeth Pattera won the triple jump with 36-2 ¾.
Elena Falcone was second in the javelin.
Other point-scorers for the Classics were: Lexi Davis, fifth, pole vault; Emily Carr, fifth, 3200; and Rachel Marsili, seventh, 300 hurdles; Mary Lundin, eighth, 800; and Brianna Caljean, tied for eighth, pole vault.
The Lakeland boys outscored Dunmore, 106.5-83, for the Class AA team title.
O’Donnell won the triple jump with 41-10, was part of the winning 1600 relay team and placed second in both hurdles events.
Arzie won the 800 in 1:57.89 and was on two winning relay teams with Casey Albino.
O’Donnell, Arzie, Garth Estadt and Albino formed the 1600 relay team that won in 3:32.34. Zack Krieger, Mark Arzie, Nathan Morgan and Albino won the 3200 relay in 8:16.14.
Morgan was third in the 800 and second in the 1600.
“We felt confident coming in,” said Lakeland coach Art Davis, whose team had already captured Lackawanna Track Conference divisional and championship meet titles this season. “We had a lot of momentum from our previous meets and we just carried that through.
“Our depth really showed again.”
Dante DeAntonio added a second-place finish in the shot put.
Others scoring points for the Chiefs were: Estadt, third, 300 hurdles and, eighth, long jump; Chet Anuszewski, third, 110 hurdles; Albino, third, 400; Andrew Urban, fifth, 400; and Cody Morcom, seventh, pole vault.
Justin Barber won the discus with a throw of 157-11 for Lackawanna Trail, which placed ninth with 35 points. Barber was also seventh in the shot put.
The Lions took third place in the 1600 relay with Isaac Barbolish, Zack Wetzel, Matt Decker and Dylan Harris.
They also got points from: Dylan Harris, fourth, 300 hurdles; Matt Decker, sixth, 100 and 200; and Barbolish, seventh, javelin.
Jenkins, a sophomore, won the 100 hurdles in 15.20 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 46.31 to repeat titles in both. She also was part of the fourth-place 400 relay and seventh-place 1600 relay teams. Jenkins led the way as the Chiefs compiled 85 points to tie Montrose for second, behind Holy Redeemer, which won the title with 133.
Ashton Boyarsky was second in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump. She part was part of the fourth-place 400 relay.
The Lady Chiefs got third-place finishes from Mackenzie Kiaser (400), Natalie Tuffy (triple jump) and Kayla Agentowicz (high jump).
Sarah Larkin was fourth in both the 100 and 200 while Dana Buskovitz was fourth in the pole vault. Agentowicz, Boyarsky and Taylor Flynn were also on the 400 relay.
Agentowicz was sixth in the 800.
Natalie Tuffy (100 hurdles) and Flynn (javelin) added seventh-place finishes.
Lauren Holt and Kaiser were also on the 1600 relay.
Lackawanna Trail was 14th with 18 points.
Vanessa Ellsworth took fourth in the 400 and seventh in the 200.
Vanessa Furneaux was fifth in the 300 hurdles and part of the eighth-place 3200 relay.
Kiernan Dougherty was fifth in the 3200 and seventh in the 1600.
Tunkhannock beat Coughlin, 78.5-76, for the Class AAA boys title. Scranton Prep was eighth with 46 points and Abington Heights was 12th with 27.
Mike Brier won the 1600 in 4:28.83, edging Scranton Prep teammate Pat Feeney by nine-hundredths of a second.
Ryan Burke was fourth in the same race.
Ben Evans and Brier finished third and fourth for the Cavaliers in the 3200.
Jake Dickinson was fourth in the pole vault.
Nick Solfanelli was sixth in the javelin, Zack McGrath was seventh in the high jump and the 3200 relay team was seventh.
Abington Heights was led by a second-place finish from the 3200 relay team of Patrick Haggerty, Pat Stoughton, Jacob Ross and Evan Phillips.
Zack Bird was fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump.
Pat Williams (discus) and Jonathan Galyadick (300 hurdles) were fifth. Haggerty (800) was seventh. Phillips (800) and Kyle Ouellette (1600) were eighth.