Penn Hills athletes primed for WPIAL competition

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Friday, May 11, 2018 | 1:06 AM


A trio of Penn Hills seniors — Alex Trower, Emmanuel Mitchell and Jaden Rouse — have worked on their consistency in their final season as they approach their final WPIAL Class AAA track and field championship.

The latest example of their growth came when all three athletes took first place with near personal bests at the Baldwin Invitational on May 4.

Trower won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, while Mitchell won the high jump and Jaden Rouse won the triple jump.

“First of all, to see them achieve this as seniors is just terrific. All the hard work is paying off, and for them to achieve that consistency is really nice. It just seems like they are starting to peak now and there are just better things to come for them,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said.

“You know you can depend on them because you know what you're going to get in every event and every meet. Even when they have a so-called bad meet, they are still doing well.”

Mitchell finished with his personal best mark in the high jump (6 feet, 7.5 inches) to edge McKeesport's Terron Taylor (6-2.5). Mitchell's new personal best is just shy of the school record of 6-8 set by Dion Bentley in 1988.

‘We all knew Emmanuel had it in him; it's just a matter about getting the right jump in,” Zelkowitz said.

Trower won the 100-meter dash in 10.86 seconds, which was ahead of Baldwin's Angelo Priore (11.16). In the 200, Trower finished in 22.31, which was ahead of Baldwin's Brendan O'Malley (22.74).

Rouse won the triple jump with a mark of 43-5.25, which was ahead of McDowell's Caleb Mabins, who finished at 43-5.

“We hope they really peak during Memorial Day weekend. That has been the plan for them all year,” Zelkowitz said.

Trower acknowledged he was pressing earlier in the season to make sure he got the times he wanted on the track. The consistency came after relaxing his mind as well as going out and having fun on the track.

“Overall, it's a good season. It's been tough, not so much physically but mentally,” Trower said.

“At the beginning of the indoor season, I was putting so much pressure on myself, and I didn't hit my times. As the season goes on, my coach just reminds me to enjoy the moment and have fun with it. If you're not having fun with it, then what's the point?”

Outside the trio of seniors, the Penn Hills boys will have other athletes competing at WPIALs on Thursday at Baldwin. The athletes include senior Joshua Allen (discus), sophomore Deshawn Jackson-Ralston (200) and the 1,600-meter relay team. Rouse also will compete in the long jump.

On the girls team, sophomore Eliza Brennan (200), sophomore Omokemi Kemi Balogun (triple jump) and the 400-meter relay team all qualified for WPIALs.

Even though Trower has won events during the outdoor season, he knows it doesn't matter unless he finishes on top of the podium at states.

In his eyes, a win at WPIALs would be nice, but he wants to make sure he will have that opportunity to stand on the podium at states by finishing in the top four in the 100 and 200 at WPIALs.

“I really just worry about my own lane and just try to run my own race,” Trower said. “I know there are a lot of fast people there, and I'm really looking forward to running and enjoying the moment and not getting nervous. I just need to make sure I know what I have to do, and I think it will be a good day.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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