North Hills athletes prep for WPIAL track championships

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Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 11:00 PM


Despite having one of their smaller rosters in recent memory, the North Hills boys and girls teams managed to qualify a combined 10 athletes for the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships set for Thursday at Baldwin High School.

Three of the qualifying athletes are from the girls track and field team.

Sydney Kirsch, a first-time WPIAL qualifier, will be competing in the triple jump while Elaina Longjohn and Amberly Valeriano will return to the championship event in an attempt to improve upon their solid finishes at last year's meet.

Longjohn took 11th place in last year's long jump, an event she qualified in again this season.

The sophomore also scored high enough to compete in the triple jump.

Valeriano, meanwhile, will represent North Hills at the WPIAL meet in the 100-meter hurdles and the long jump.

The senior took fourth in last season's 100 hurdles and was second in the long jump.

While she did well enough to place on the podium last year, Indians track and field coach Doug Sundo believes she has a real shot to race up the standings this year.

“She's ranked fourth right now in the WPIAL in the 100-meter hurdles and sixth in the state. She has run it in 14.60 seconds, and that's without being pushed too hard,” Sundo said.

“I believe once she gets into this meet and goes against the top competition that she's familiar with, I think we'll see her elevate her game to another level.”

On the boys side, senior Andrew Longjohn is returning to the WPIAL event in the long jump and triple jump. Isaiah Kinley also will participate in the long jump.

Lirion Murtezi qualified in the shot put, and Jeremy McPherson will participate in the pole vault.

In the sprinting events, sophomore Tom McDonough will look to continue the success he has sustained all season when he toes up the start line in the 100-meter dash and the 200.

“He's right in the thick of things,” Sundo said of McDonough.

“I call it ‘race day magic;' you never know what's going to happen on a given day. This kid, he's as raw as raw can be. He's just figuring it out, and if he can get out of the blocks well, there's a tremendous upside to this kid. Once he figures it all out, he's going to succeed immensely.”

Keygen Bryant also will run the 200, and Joey Beuhner will race in the 3,200.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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